Missouri Breaks - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-27-2017   #1
tetoncounty's Avatar
wilson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 68
Missouri Breaks

A friend from Montana told me about this stretch of the Missouri. Looks like three sections of easy water comprising about 150 miles.
We're thinking about a trip up there concentrating on photography and hiking. Two of us, and I'd like to take a raft.
Anybody raft these stretches? Low water? Camping? Upstream winds?

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Old 04-27-2017   #2
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,814
We did that run in August a couple years ago.

6 of us in tandem canoes, a couple and their dog in a 16 ft self bailer and one man in a super puma.

We did the trip in style with the rafts taking a couple of ice filled coolers for cold drinks and comforts of home.

Camps were just awesome except that last section was the pits. Seems like there had been a big ice dam the previous winters and all the camps were basically torn down. Other camps were awesome. Most camps had cottonwoods and other trees with plenty of shade. We made our miles early and had long cocktail time in the shade.

We were just astounded as we had winds pushing us down stream almost all of the time. There was also plenty of current and the two rafters mostly floated little time on the oars. Could not believe this.

Scenery runs from mind building rock structures reminding me of medieval castles to rolling hills. I live in Oklahoma and thought we were the wheat capital of the world. Montana tho has us beat. As we drove around we saw mile upon mile of golden wheat fields.

Look into the steam boats that used to run this river up to Ft Benton. Just awesome for me to see how they "walked" these boats up these shallow rapids. On the other hand, all the cottonwood trees were cut for miles from the river to run the boilers. The Rangers are working to replace cottonwood trees along the banks and I very much appreciate their efforts.

We had a couple awesome lightning and rain storms mostly in the evenings. Take good tents and even better tent stakes. Storms were awe inspiring with wind, rain and lightening bolts out the yeng yang. The best part is the storms were usually short in duration.

If you are a lewis and clark fan (all of us are) this float is a treat. History every where. On the way up we stopped at the Great Falls historical site. Do not miss this for the falls and the displays.

I am hoping to make this float again as it was that enjoyable.

Lots of range cattle to deal with but most of the camps are fenced off from them.

River is wide but not that deep, we could wade out to midstream at most of the camps.

You need to carry drinking water, river has all sort of fertilizer run off and not recommended you drink.

Ft Benton is a nice little town. Good little grocery store. We stayed there an extra rig day. Really nice camping at the fair grounds. Several neat places to eat. We used a local outfitter for shuttle and he was great to deal with.

There is a nice Ranger station there in Ft Benton with all the information you need plus it has some nice displays as well.

All I can say is do this trip. I sure hope to do that run again. The Breaks is a float that needs doing multiple times in my opinion. August was a good time. Warm to hot days but cool nights. There are a lot of river camps with shelters. Very nice however, several were just loaded with biting fly insects. If you use them, take plenty of bug spray.

bottom line is go and do this float. I do not know if the current and downstream wind we had is there every August but it worked just great for us.
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Old 04-28-2017   #3
Renaissance Redneck
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Huson, Montana
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,214
Search MB for Missouri threads I remember a discussion of the run a while back.
We did the white cliffs stretch a couple of years ago in a 15' oar rig and a canoe.
We used 3 bail buckets as drift anchors to pull us through a brutal headwind.
All the campsites have toilets and the shuttle is a bitch if the road is muddy.
There is also a mile by mile Lewis and Clark guide that gives some cool history info.
If your interested, reply and I'll look for the name of the book when I get home.
"You're gonna be doin a lot of doobie rolling when youre LIVIN IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER"
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Old 05-02-2017   #4
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Salem, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 56
I was a BLM Ranger on this stretch of the Missouri in the early 90's. Beautiful country and a good float. However, there is no whitewater on this river. "Rapids" listed on maps are named from paddle boat days and are not really even riffles.

I would not suggest rafting it. It will be a LONG and tiring trip pulling and pushing on the oars and if the wind kicks up...brutal!

Canoes are the way to do this. There are lots of outfitters to rent from and you will enjoy the canoeing experience. The best stretch is the "White Cliffs" section, If I remember right, it is the second section.

There are a lot of good camp sites with a number of side hikes to enjoy. This is open range, so you might end up being woken up by a curious cow. I have a great picture of a cow with it's two front legs actually standing in my canoe.

Pick up the guide book available online by Glenn Monahan and Chanler Biggs (my old boss). It is a wealth of information on the amazing history and geology of the river. Enjoy!
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Old 05-07-2017   #5
Helena, Montana
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Apr 2010
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^Thanks for the helpful info!^

I've been thinking about trying to put a solo float/hunt together there for this fall or next, any pertinent information you could share along those lines?

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Old 05-10-2017   #6
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Salem, Oregon
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Check this link for outfitting services in the area.

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Old 05-10-2017   #7
Helena, Montana
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