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Upper Missouri National Wild & Scenic River, “White Cliffs” / “Missouri Breaks” – 8 days (May 5-11, 2024)

May 5May 11

Upper Missouri National Wild & Scenic River   Montana     2024

8 Days. May 5th thru May 11th.   150 river miles.   Class I.  This is an ACA trip.

It is 777 miles from, Denver to the put in at Fort Benton.         

Trip Coordinator: Mat Bozek – contact trip coordinator to sign up or for questions

No sign ups before March 1st  (note- I will be in CA in April w/o e-mail access)


We will be camping 7 nights on the river.  This is the famous “White Cliffs” / “Missouri Breaks” 

Section of the Missouri RIver.   No little kids, no dogs, NO WHINING allowed.


Mandatory equipment will include an alarm clock for each tent.  Yes, an alarm clock! for the mandatory 8 AM start each day.  This section is known for high upriver winds, and we will be on the water each day by 8 AM so as to get to camp by early afternoon to avoid the worst of the winds.   Aside from high winds, other hazards include rattlesnakes, ice cold water, falling cottonwood branches, soft crumbly rock (on hikes) and all the usual other hazards of river travel, as well as some (not so minor) potential for spring blizzards.


We will be camping in a mix of “primitive” and “developed” boat camps (and potentially just bushwhack camping if necessary).   River toilets are mandatory, except that WAG Bags are an acceptable alternative if you put them into a waterproof container.  Everyone will be responsible for their own Poo – No S***!.  I’m not hauling yours.  The river water is not fit for drinking, even if filtering, as it contains agricultural runoff of fertilizers and pesticides (and it’s not known as “The Big Muddy” for nothing).  Everyone is required to carry enough drinking water for the full trip.  I expect to carry 7 gallons myself – ½ gal for first and last days and a full gallon for each day between.  Recommended is a gallon per person per day.   At 8 lbs/gallon, that 56 pounds to start with (per person, at least).  


 I hope to get to camp early enough to allow time for some hiking in the afternoons.  I am planning on 6 camps and 6 travel days, with one day in reserve to use as a layover, or makeup day if needed.  May is the highest flow rate, so I anticipate a fair current – expect to paddle at least one or two 30 mile days, which means you need to be in good enough physical condition to paddle (not float) for 6 to 8 hours each day. If the current is flowing at 2mph and we paddle at 3 mph, that’s 5mph and 6 hours of actual paddling time to cover 30 miles.  Could be more or less depending on conditions.  You need a fast boat!


The shuttle service in Ft. Benton has a 10 passenger van . We may need to use two shuttle services, or maybe pre-shuttle some of our vehicles.  Depending, shuttle service will cost a minimum of $75  per driver- could be double that or more (assume $450 div by # of drivers)

 The shuttle is 150 miles one-way, which is why I prefer to use a shuttle service.


FEES:  aside from the shuttle fees, you should bring enough cash to pay for camping at the pay campgrounds if we are forced to use them (varies from $5 to $12 per site)

BLM River Trip Fees = $4 per person per day = $28 per person – we will pay at the Coal Banks Landing ranger station. 

While this can be characterized as a beginner level trip, a beginner would have to have moving water experience and be physically and mentally able to paddle the 6 to 8 hours per day, day after day.  The river is Class 1 – there are about 15 named rapids which are mainly at islands, and would seem to be just large wave trains.  In higher water, most all of those rapids get washed out.  No slow boats for this trip – you will need to be able keep up a moderate pace all day,especially if we are fighting headwinds. We won’t be “floating”.


May 5
May 11