There is not a river trip without ample hiking opportunities. In Fact, expect to go on at least one hike a day. We start each trip by gauging the groups hiking needs and pick hikes accordingly. A lot of the hikes we choose are off the beaten path due to their remote nature and lack of traffic. However, there are also plenty of hikes that offer low gradient and consist of a quick out and back. Due to the variety of hikes, we will make sure to give each plenty of options.
We may be bias, but we believe the Upper Missouri River Breaks offer some of the best hikes in Montana. On about every trip we hear people say, “we could spend a whole month here and not have the time to see it all”. That is why we are here. We will make sure to show you what we think are the best places to explore.
There are 11 Corp. of discovery campsites along the 149 river miles of the Upper Missouri River Breaks. All of the campsites have been located and are marked with a small plaque. The plaques can often times be hard to see and their is no real signage.
On the Missouri River, there are multiple sites with petrified trees and petroglyphs. We are happy to show you a couple of them along the way.
Missouri River Outfitters has its favorites spots to swim. We usually pick our swimming holes in relation to water depth and natural features.
In the Breaks there are multiple spots to locate teepee rings. The most common one is at Little Sandy Campsite.
Eye of the Needle is located across form Eagle Creek Campground. It was a sandstone natural arch of 11 feet tall. At some point prior to May 27th 1997, it collapsed. The cause of the collapse is still yet unknown but there are many theories including; human involvement, natural erosion, sonic boom, etc. What is left of the arch are two six-foot pillars. Although the hike can be difficult with lack of foot holds, the reward of topo views can be worth it.
The Narrows take us through weathered, narrow sandstone passages, past ancient insect burrow casings in the sandstone, and then up on top for expansive views of the surrounding river valley. Usually a must-see hike!
Another “must see,” and arguably one of the premier hikes on the White Cliffs section of the river. We hike up into a natural hole that time and wind have eroded into the soft sandstone; endless “hoodoos” (the local name for cap-rocked sandstone), weathered formations, and wide vistas of the surrounding river bottom and prairie await the visitor.
“Seven Sisters” are the seven sandstone columns that represent seven nuns in their habits with Sister Superior leading them up the hill. Karl Bodmer painted the seven sisters and it was a known landmark used during the steamboat era. There are small creeks that have converged to create what is known as “Ballet of the Walls”. Hikes around the seven sisters’ area are short and off the beaten path.
Steamboat rock is a large rock formation that resembles a twin stacked steamboat. From Dark Butte campsite, we hike up the ridge to marvel at the Large Sandstone rock formation up close. For those groups that want a off-the-beaten-path hike, Steamboat rock is a great option.
Dark Butte is a large Shonkinite (igneous) rock hovering over an Eagle Sandstone Archangel structure with wings spread wide. This hike offers a bushwhacking, high elevation gain, good time above the Missouri River Corridor. When on top there are views that will not disappoint.
On the lower river section, homesteaders would often hew out “dugouts” to serve as year-round cold storage before refrigerator. The Murray Dugout on river right is a good representative sample, located just up off the river bank; and easy and quick hike up.
A BLM-maintained homestead and outbuildings, built after the passage of the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909.
The U.S. Army built the trail in 1869 to recover cargo from the wrecked steamboat Peter Balen. The trail leads up the ridge and has spectacular views of the rugged upland breaks.
There are numerous homesteads throughout the breaks. Each homestead has its own unique history with colorful characters, trepidations, survival, and unique features of the past. We will often stop throughout the day to tell of their past.
Hike up to a point near where William Clark first believed he saw the Rocky Mountains in May of 1805. An abundance of geological features and sweeping views of the surrounding mountain ranges and river bottoms. Another “can’t miss” hike.
An elevated point where one gets a superb view of the geological splendor of the lower river. The hike starts at a river access point and goes up a decently maintained road. Once on top, there are views of a perfect 90-degree bend in the river. Exposing layers of time in the formation below.