U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
 
Print Page

Home << UMRBNM


Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument Anniversary

A towering cliff stands guard over Cow Creek a tributary of the Upper Missouri River as it drifts past cattle grazing in a stand of cottonwood trees near the border of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument and the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. 
A majestic cliff stands guard over Cow Creek, a tributary of the Upper Missouri River, as it drifts past cattle grazing in a stand of cottonwood trees near the border of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument and the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. 
Meandering through the heart of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument is the 149-mile Upper Misso uri National Wild and Scenic River, flanked by towering cliffs, slopes perfumed with the rich fragrance of sage and gentle benches occasionally blanketed by stands of majestic cottonwood trees.

The river and rugged surrounding uplands are sewn together by the Missouri Breaks, a complex network of steeply banked fingers and draws, called coulees (cool-ease) in the local vernacular.

The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, born by presidential proclamation Jan. 17, 2001, encompasses approximately 375,000 acres on Bureau of Land Management-administered public land in central Montana. 

Monument visitors are presented with a bounty of recreational opportunities.

These lands feature an intriguing spectrum of wildlife, unique geological features, plants, and significant historical and cultural values. This ideal western landscape retained much of its unspoiled character over the centuries.

The monument is home to magpies, eagles, world-record setting bighorn sheep, elk, white tail deer, mule deer, antelope, mountain lions, coyotes and more.

The Missouri Breaks are defined in part by their storied history. The entire region was first the homeland of American Indians.

Today, the northeast portion of the monument brushes up against the south-east side of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, home to the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes.

The river served as the pathway for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Later in the 19th Century, steamboats
  The lands of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument feature an intriguing spectrum of unique geological features.
 The lands of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument feature an intriguing spectrum of unique geological features.
  
 Towering slopes perfumed with the rich fragrance of sage form the walls of a maze of coulees in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
 Towering slopes perfumed with the rich fragrance of sage form the walls of a maze of coulees in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
  
  The McClelland/Stafford Ferry offers Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument visitors the rare opportunity to cross the Missouri River with a vehicle in central Montana.
 The McClelland/Stafford Ferry offers Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument visitors the rare opportunity to cross the Missouri River with a vehicle in central Montana.
churned the waterway, ferrying in goods for traders and exporting trappers’ furs. Outlaws fled into the labyrinth of the Missouri Breaks to evade justice.

Several generations of homesteaders tried to forge a new life from the land. Some succeeded and their descendants can be found working the same land today. Others failed miserably, their abandon homes remain as relics of their broken dreams.  

Today, monument public lands make a significant contribution to the local lifestyle and the regional economy.

Visitors can also experience the cultural and natural history of the monument at the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center in Fort Benton, Montana.

The Center interprets the grandeur and wonder of Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River and the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. The Interpretive Center keeps alive stories of hawkers, riverboat captains, bullwhackers, paddlefish, sturgeon, and bighorn sheep.  Hands-on exhibits, special educational programs and riverside walking trail, tell about the area’s cultural and natural history.

Lloyd Road squeezes through the steep banks of a coulee in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Vast portions of the monument are serviced only by graveled and unimproved roads. Some of these roads are not suitable for low clearance vehicles and many roads cross gumbo-type soils that become impassable when wet. 
Lloyd Road squeezes through the steep banks of a coulee in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Vast portions of the monument are serviced only by graveled and unimproved roads. Some of these roads are not suitable for low clearance vehicles and many roads cross gumbo-type soils that become impassable when wet. 
Roads and Access
The monument lies roughly centered between Havre to the north and Lewistown to the south; and Jordan to the east and Great Falls to the West.

U.S. Highway 87 accesses the western portion of the monument at Fort Benton. On the eastern edge, U.S. Highway 191 crosses the monument (and the Missouri River) at the James Kipp Recreation Area. Montana Highway 236 provides access through the communities of Lewistown, Winifred and Big Sandy near the center of the monument.

Between these three routes, vast portions of the monument are serviced only by graveled and unimproved roads. Some of these roads are not suitable for low clearance vehicles and many roads cross gumbo-type soils that become impassable when wet. Much of the monument is not accessible by any road, inviting visitors to explore on foot. Off-road driving is not allowed in the monument.

Be Prepared
Significant areas of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument have no cell phone service, no CB signal and no human beings. Visitors should be well prepared for self-extraction contingencies.

There are no motels, service stations or eateries in the interior of the monument. Visitors are encouraged to obtain supplies in the gateway communities on the perimeter of the monument. Before setting out, it's important to get a good map, listen to weather information and inform others of your travel plans.

For more information, contact either the:

Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
920 N Main St.
Lewistown, MT 59457
(406) 538-1900

Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center
701 7th St.
P.O. Box 1389
Fort Benton, MT 59442
(406) 622-4000
(877) 256-3252 toll free

A sliver of the 149-mile Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River meanders past a private ranch field, in the heart of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument features a unique spectrum of geological features. In Montana’s big sky country the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument stretches beyond sight.     
A sliver of the 149-mile Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River meanders past a private ranch field, in the heart of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument features a unique spectrum of geological features. In Montana’s big sky country the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument stretches beyond sight.     


 
Last updated: 01-14-2014