Upper Missouri Wild and Scenic River
The Missouri is the longest river in the United States, flowing more than 2,500 miles from its source on the eastern slope of the Rockies near Three Forks, Montana, to its confluence with the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri. Congress designated 149 miles of the Upper Missouri as a component of the National Wild and Scenic River System in 1976, calling it an irreplaceable legacy of the historic American west. The Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River section starts at Fort Benton, Montana, and runs 149 miles downstream ending at the James Kipp Recreation Area.
49 species of fish (ranging from 1/2-oz. minnows to 140 lb. paddlefish) reside in the river. Fishermen are most likely to catch goldeye, drum, sauger, walleye, northern pike, channel catfish, carp and smallmouth buffalo.
As a route of western expansion, the Missouri River had few equals. Lewis and Clark spent 3 weeks, from May 24 through June 13, 1805, exploring the segment that is now the Upper Missouri National Wild & Scenic River. Today, this portion is considered to be the premier component of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.
The public lands of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, both under federal and state management, make a significant contribution to the local lifestyle and the regional economy. Within the monument you can float the river, fish, hike, hunt, camp, drive for pleasure, find a little solitude, enjoy a sense of exploration, or simply marvel at the variety of resources around you. Vast portions of the monument are serviced only by graveled and unimproved roads. Much of the monument is not accessible by any road; visitors are invited to explore on foot.
Photo by Bob Wick, BLM.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act provides three levels of river classification: wild, scenic, and recreational.
Wild rivers are free of dams, generally inaccessible except by trail, and represent vestiges of primitive America.
Scenic rivers are free of dams, with shorelines or watersheds that are still largely primitive and shorelines that are largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.
Recreational rivers are readily accessible by road or railroad, may have some development along their shorelines, and may have been dammed in the past.