THE UPPER MISSOURI NATIONAL WILD & SCENIC RIVER
LEWIS AND CLARK NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL INTERPRETIVE CENTER
CHARLES M. RUSSELL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
HISTORIC FORT BENTON
CANOE AND FLOATING
THE UPPER MISSOURI
NATIONAL WILD AND SCENIC RIVER
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UPPER MISSOURI BREAKS NATIONAL
The Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River was designated in 1976 because of its uniqueness, special values and wild, scenic and recreational qualities marking its 149 miles as America’s longest undeveloped river stretch. To this day the Upper Missouri remains relatively unchanged and its settings vary from riparian vegetation, to the unique and beautiful White Cliffs, to the sharply carved and rugged Badlands, to the rolling, pine and juniper covered slopes of the Breaks. These contrasting habitats provide for a diverse and plentiful wildlife population, numerous recreational opportunities, livestock grazing and other multiple use activities. Though the Upper Missouri lacks the stimulating whitewater runs much sought after by thrill seekers it more than makes up for the river runners fix with its mesmerizing glimpse of the American west as it once was.
From the beginning novice to the expert paddler to the leisurely motor boat aficionado, visitors embark into a river corridor that swallows even the largest groups and treats them to a wilderness remoteness impossible to find elsewhere. Optimum periods for boating are May through September with fishing and hunting use replacing leisure boating during the shoulder seasons. Trip lengths may vary from one day to ten days or more. By far the most popular float, taking in the scenic White Cliffs, expends two nights with the takeout on the third day. In this section, visitors will find developed boat camps with vault toilets, fire rings and superb hiking opportunities, not to mention the hauntingly beautiful, geographic splendor of the region. For those with more time an extension of this trip permits experiencing the even more remote and uniquely appealing Breaks of the lower river section.
The Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument is a national monument created by Presidential proclamation in 2001 protecting the Missouri Breaks of central Montana and a complement to Montana’s two National Parks. Called “The Breaks” by locals, it is a series of badland areas characterized by rock outcroppings, steep bluffs and grassy plains. The Monument encompasses 495,502 acres, most of which were already managed by the U.S. government. The adjacent Missouri River was designated a Wild and Scenic River in 1976 and forms a western boundary while the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge is to the east. The Breaks country was a model for many of the paintings done by painter Charles M. Russell.