Public access to the Upper Missouri River is limited, so you need to plan ahead about where you will put in and take out. Private landowners along the river are able to enter the river from their own land, but visitors must use the developed public access sites. Principal launch points are: Fort Benton Canoe Launch (mile 0), Fort Benton Motorboat Launch (mile 1), Wood Bottom (mile 20.3), Coal Banks Landing (mile 41.5), Judith Landing (mile 88.5), and James Kipp Recreation Area (mile 149). Additional launch opportunities at Virgelle Ferry (mile 39.1) and McClelland (or Stafford) Ferry (mile 101.8) make possible trips of various lengths.
Under the Montana Stream Access Law, the public may use rivers and streams for recreational purposes up to the ordinary high-water marks. Although the law gives recreationists the right to use rivers and streams for water-related recreation, it does not allow them to enter posted lands bordering those streams or to cross private lands to gain access to streams. Complete rules are available at any Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks office or http://www.fwp.mt.gov/fishingmontana/default.asp