Missouri River Outfitters Fort Benton Montana

Important considerations when selecting an Outfitter for a Guided Trip on the Upper Missouri River

Selecting an outfitter for a guided canoe trip can be somewhat daunting. First, it helps to break down the various types of guided trips.

One common type is what I call the Sierra Club Model. These trips typically feature backpacking tents with pads to sleep on. Sometimes you are required to bring all or a portion of your own camping gear. Food tends to be of the “one pot” variety with lots of starch and stir-fry, you may have to help with the kitchen chores. A hot breakfast consisting of oatmeal and dried fruit is common. Lunch is often “on your own” or some community type sandwich making fest before you launch. Large non-profit groups such as Sierra Club and Outward Bound follow this format in their extensive catalogs of trips worldwide. Some of their former employees have spun off with their own “outdoor adventure” companies using the same model. Not a bad choice if you are supporting your favorite cause, not such a good idea if you are supporting a marginal enterprise.

Another type of company we see occasionally is non-resident whitewater outfitters using their previous client list to expand their reach. These companies will often list numerous domestic and international destinations. The rafting industry as a whole is a mature industry and these folks provide a good “package” that travels reasonably well. You could do worse…or much better. 

Our company is based on a model with roots in the exploration and hunting tradition of outfitting. Traditional expedition or safari style trips emphasize living and traveling in the outdoors in comfort and safety so you and your family and friends can maximize the enjoyment of the activity you came to experience. The equipment we provide is the finest available; the food is created and packed in our commercial kitchen. Our local guides have been with us for years. This is the only river we operate on and we are the oldest establishment in operation on the Upper Missouri River. No one does better trips…not even close. Below are important questions you should ask your outfitter.

1) Is all camping gear provided and what exactly are the accommodations?
Missouri River Outfitters provides 2- person wall tents with cots, sleeping bags with liner and pillow, and waterproof gear bags.

2) Will I be required to set and break camp or participate in meal prep or clean up?
You are not required to do anything beyond carrying your bags to your tent and back to
the canoe in the morning, however we enjoy having our guests pitch in.

3) What is the guide to guest ratio?
We maintain at least a 1 to 4 ratio. It is imperative to have the trip fully staffed for
the comfort and safety of our guests.

4) Is alcohol served and can I bring my own?
Some outfitters will not allow it, some will let you bring your own. I like a cold beer after
a day on the river and a glass of wine can really set off Meredith’s Portabella Mushroom
Chicken. Not only do we allow it, we provide it. We are careful not to drink on the water
but we see nothing wrong with a couple of cold beers after a hot day. Our complimentary
cooler will also have a variety of soft drinks.

5) What if I need help paddling my canoe? 
This goes back to the guide to guest ratio and why it is so important. If the need arises we can switch off and put a guide in your canoe.