The trip descriptions to follow aren’t all inclusive. Space does not allow for us to detail the history and things to do and see in each place. Special sections of this planner discuss events, the reservations, museums, recreation, wildlife refuges, fishing, hunting, etc. for all of Missouri River Country. Most larger communities have museums, a visitor information center and a library. Look and ask for information. Local folk are very happy to help you. The more knowledge you have of Missouri River Country, the better you’ll enjoy it.
MOUNTAINS AND WILDLIFE ROUTE
All of northeastern Montana witnessed the “Old West,” but this province saw it at its wildest … big ranches, outlaws, vigilantes, frontier towns, gold mining, cowboys, steamboats and trappers were all part of this historic area. Seventy miles south of Malta, at the Fred Robinson Bridge, Hwy 191 crosses the big Missouri, and your exploration of the eastern reaches of Missouri River Country begins.
Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery walked the shores and plied the river you are looking at from the bridge. On May 23, 1805, they camped about seven miles downstream. Although it is not quite clear in their journals, it appears that the view from the hills above the campsite provided them with their first look at the Little Rocky Mountains. A spot about two miles upstream from the bridge served as their camp on May 24, 1805.
James Kipp Park, directly off of the bridge, has camping facilities allowing you to spend a couple of days here. Exploring historic and fabled sites, wildlife viewing and warm water fishing will fill your time. While this trip doesn’t cover many miles, we recommend that you take from two to four days to see it … this is great country.
This stretch of the river is part of the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. The CMR, as it is called locally, contains more than 1,100,000 acres and is the second largest wildlife refuge in the United States outside of Alaska. Heading south on the highway and up the hill is the refuge office and the Slippery Ann Wildlife Station. Folks on duty can provide you with ample information on the back roads, wildlife, etc. Ask about conditions before wandering off on roads other than the tour route.
One of the highlights of this part of the refuge is the 20-mile long, self-guided auto tour, which will take you out near Lewis & Clark’s May 22, 1805 campsite and in the vicinity of the site of two historic frontier towns … Rocky Point and Carroll. At the refuge station, get a map that explains what you will encounter on the way. Take a camera and your time … the scenery and the possibility of wildlife sightings is well worth it.
Camping, with certain restrictions, is allowed anywhere on the refuge. And whether you are hiking or driving, note that there is very little, if any, drinking water available so carry plenty with you.
Leaving the Fred Robinson Bridge, head north on Hwy 191 and up out of the Missouri River Breaks. As you crest the hill, you’ll be looking at the Little Rocky Mountains, one of the most colorful and storied mountain ranges in the west. From this high bench, it’s about 13 miles to the Hwy 66 junction, where you’ll take a left to the old mining town of Landusky.
Kid Curry and his band of outlaws roamed this country. Together, along with Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid’s Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, they held up a train at Wagner just north of here.
After visiting Landusky, back track to Hwy 191 and then turn left for about 20 miles following the road into the mountains to the once lively town of Zortman. A stroll through the quiet, forested cemetery hints at a way of life that once was.
Out of Zortman there are roads and trails that will enable you to climb up high into the hills to enjoy some great views of the prairie country to the east.
With the passing of the bison, the land became cattle country and still is today. Following Hwy 191 north to Malta, you’ll be traversing the former Circle C Ranch, one of the first, big late 1800s cattle operations in these parts. Also here was a segment of the trail of the legendary drives of longhorn cattle up 1,800 miles from Texas to winter in Montana.
En route to Malta you’ll find several roads heading east and southeast into the Missouri Breaks, the CMR and the Larb Hills. They are enticing and lead to and through very remote and beautiful prairie country … back road exploration at its best. Certainly follow some of them if the weather is dry, but it is best to inquire at the BLM Office in Malta about primitive “road conditions” and to obtain a map. Then go and explore.
Forty miles north of the Zortman turnoff you’ll drop into the Milk River Valley and the ranching town of Malta. Make this your base to further explore the Larb Hills or spend some time at the Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge just a few miles to the east. While in Malta, make sure you see the Phillips County Museum. It’s a collection of the area’s history. And while there, ask about the Dinosaur Institute and the digs open to the public. Before cattle and bison, great pre-historic giants roamed this landscape.
FORT PECK LAKE ROUTE
Glasgow, named for Glasgow, Scotland, came to be, in 1887, as the Great Northern Railroad was pushing its way west. This bustling town on the Milk River is your starting point for this and a couple of other trips through Missouri River Country.
On May 8, 1805, the first “tourists” to this region, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, camped at the confluence of the Milk and Missouri rivers, about 18 miles southeast of town. Lewis explored the Milk for about three miles and said, ” … the water of this river possesses a peculiar whiteness, being about the colour of a cup of tea with the admixture of a tablespoon full of milk. from the colour of it’s water, we called it Milk river.”
Before heading out to explore, make sure you visit the Valley County Pioneer Museum; it’s an outstanding place with extensive Lewis & Clark exhibits.
Leaving Glasgow, head southeast on Hwy 24 for about 18 miles to Fort Peck. You’ll traverse a mixture of rolling and level country. Once you see the lake, realize that you’re looking at the largest body of water in Montana. Fort Peck Lake has almost 1,600 miles of shoreline and is backed up for 134 miles behind the dam. The waterline is equal to the total coastal front of the state of California.
In 1871, near the site of today’s dam, an Indian agency and a trading post for the Assiniboine and Sioux people was established. In the fall of 1933, with the commencement of the dam project, Fort Peck townsite, planned and built by the Army Corps of Engineers to house its employees, began its orderly development.
The dam is one of the largest earth -filled river impediments in the world. Its original purpose was not only to control floods but also to create jobs in a depression saddled economy. At that time, the undertaking was the nation’s largest public works project. Completed in 1940, it provided at its peak in 1936, 10,456 jobs. The headgates of the dam were featured on the first cover of Life Magazine.
Fort Peck Lake is a Montana treasure both for its size and outdoor opportunities. Six recreation areas within a few miles of the dam provide access for water sports, fishing and hunting. The Beaver Creek Nature Trail starts at the campground downstream from the dam and leads through wildlife habitat. A wildlife viewing auto route … the Leo B. Coleman Wildlife Exhibit, takes off from near the Fort Peck Summer Theater.
Montana’s Governor’s Cup Walleye Fishing Tournament, held the second weekend in July at Fort Peck, is a national event.
While at Fort Peck, you can either camp or stay in the 1930s style Fort Peck Hotel. (The rooms were remodeled in 1993) And if you’re there between June and August, be sure and visit the Fort Peck Museum to view its collection of Indian artifacts and fossils uncovered during the construction of the dam. And attend the Fort Peck Theater built in 1934 as a movie house for the new town. Today it boasts of a fine summer theater company.
This part of Fort Peck is surrounded by the eastern unit of the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Many roads lead to the lake and through the CMR area.
When you leave Fort Peck, strike out north on Hwy 117 for 13 miles to Nashua, and then turn left on Hwy 2 for 14 miles back to your base in Glasgow.
Before leaving Glasgow, make sure you visit the South Valley Wildlife Viewing Area for an opportunity to see antelope, deer and other animals. The road route is about 65 miles long and can take three hours or more depending on how much time you have and what you want to see. Inquire at the Chamber of Commerce or the Glasgow Office of the Bureau of Land Management for maps, road conditions and information.
RANCHING COUNTRY AND MILK RIVER ROUTE
This tour through Missouri River Country’s northwest corner starts in Malta. US 191, a quiet road leading north out of town winds through a mix of beautiful river bottoms, canyons and bench lands. It’s 38 miles from Malta to Loring, your northern most destination.
At about mile 16, a byway veers northwest off of US 191 and climbs to a high point. From the top you will be treated to a grand and distant view. The canyons of Cottonwood Creek snake off to the west. Looking east you will see the Milk River and its tree-lined banks. Follow this road for about four to six miles and you’ll reach some places where you can look north into the deep gorge of Little Cottonwood Creek Canyon.
Returning to the main highway, head north to Loring, a tiny picturesque community six miles from the Port of Morgan and the Canadian border crossing.
Heading back south on US 191, about 20 miles from Loring, a road stretches east through the Milk River Valley. Turn left here. It’s about 23 miles via this route to Hwy 243 and then to Saco. On the way, you’ll pass by Hewitt Lake National Wildlife Refuge and an access road to Nelson Reservoir, one of northeast Montana’s popular water recreation and fishing areas. This back road through the valley lets you approach the Milk River in several places. Human sightings will be few, but you’ll probably encounter deer and antelope. Upon reaching Hwy 243 turn right … it’s six miles to Saco and US 2, where stories have it, that before grizzlies disappeared from the Larb Hills, local cowboys use to rope the big bears for amusement.
The Larb Hills, south of town, present interesting country to explore and Nelson Reservoir is nearby if you’d like to fish. You’ll need to spend the night in the Saco area or in Malta, 28 miles away. Then allow another full day or more to enjoy the surrounding country.
Saco features a museum located in a renovated one-room county schoolhouse … the Huntley School, named after student Chet Huntley who went on to become a famous TV newscaster. Nearby at Nelson Reservoir is the Sleeping Buffalo Resort with its hot springs and spa.
Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, about eight miles east of Malta, is another reason to spend time in this part of Missouri River Country.
OUTLAWS, OLD TRAILS AND THE SIOUX AND ASSINIBOINE ROUTE
Wolf Point is the start of your route of exploration into the northeast corner of Missouri River Country. The highway distance covered for this circle trip is 188 miles. You can do it in one or two days, but you’ll see much more and have a chance to cover some back roads if you take 3-4 days.
Lewis & Clark camped near Wolf Point on May 5, 1805, where they noted in their journals that Clark killed a large grizzly bear on the riverbank.
Documentation of Wolf Point’s exact beginnings is hard to come by. An 1834 map noted an “Indian Fort” at the location. As a settlement, it was probably first established as a trading post and then grew to a cow town when huge cattle herds came through on their way to the rich and tall grasses of northern Montana. The place was a real frontier outpost and even featured a dugout hotel along the river.
Today, Wolf Point is part of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, home to the Dakota-Lakota-Nakota (Sioux) and Nakota (Assiniboine) nations.
If you’re in Wolf Point around the second week in July, you’ll have a chance to witness the Wolf Point Wildhorse Stampede-the oldest pro-rodeo in Montana. Even before the term “rodeo” was coined, this was an event staged by Native Americans for wild riding skills and celebration.
Leaving Wolf Point , head east on Hwy 2 to Poplar, 14 miles away. This community, just off the Missouri River, serves as headquarters for the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes. Make time to see the cultural center and the museum.
On May 3, 1805, Lewis and Clark camped about 3.5 miles upstream from here where the Poplar River empties into the Missouri.
Six miles east of Poplar, State Secondary Road 251 turns left. Follow it to Flaxville 52 miles away. The route passes the Poplar River and as you climb the rise to the north, the land is almost solid agriculture … wheat fields stretch out in every direction and you can see forever, Big Sky Country. From benches like this one, you can marvel at building summer thunderstorms being whisked by the wind into Canada or east into North Dakota. The view is 360 degrees.
Stay on the main road. Eventually, it makes a sharp turn westward before resuming its northbound direction. Somewhere south of Flaxville, you’ll cross the old Wood Mountain Trail (it isn’t clearly defined in this area). Wood Mountain in present-day Saskatchewan, Canada is where the Plains tribes often wintered. Sitting Bull and his warriors used the pathway on their escape to Canada after the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Look around and try to imagine these native people trekking across the landscape. The trail began somewhere along the Yellowstone River to the southeast and went through Fort Union near Sidney. Hunters, trappers and eventually homesteaders also made use of this passage.
State Secondary Road 251 ends at Flaxville, known for good antique finds. At one time, flax was the only crop grown in the area, so the name came easily. If the afternoon is still young when you reach Flaxville, continue north through town, seven miles on County Road 511 to Whitetail, another interesting small place. On a rise, just before town, you can get good photos of Whitetail sitting in the beautiful valley of Whitetail Creek. If you have fishing gear and a license with you, a public fishing pond is located on the community’s edge. The place was established around 1911 with the coming of the homesteaders and the railroad. Next, head back south to Flaxville and turn west on Hwy 5 towards Scobey. En route, stop by Madoc and photograph the lonesome grain elevator. It looks great in the late afternoon sun.
Known as a center of one of Montana’s most productive grain growing regions, Scobey is an idyllic prairie town … clean, orderly and picturesque. Like so many places in northeast Montana’ its roots are with the railroad. Spend the night here.
The Daniels County Courthouse on main street, was once One-eyed Molly’s “house of pleasure,” and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Scobey’s (and northeast Montana’s) featured attraction is Pioneer Town, one of the nation’s finest re-creations of an early 1900s homestead town. Forty-two original structures, some 100 years old, have been brought to the site from nearby places such as Whitetail. This is a must visit.
Going east again on Route 5, it’s only 30 miles to Plentywood, but take your time getting there. Rise with the sun and plan on a day of working the back roads. Even if you want to drive mostly o the main highway, at least poke around on some of these off-shoots. Here’s where your Montana Atlas and Gazetteer is needed. It’s not always clear as to which way to go. There are very few signs along the roads.
Stop in Redstone. The landscape is very charming. Redstone, established somewhere around 1900, took its name from the red shale in the area. “Dutch Henry,” a rough outlaw leader had one of his camps near town.
South from Redstone, in the vicinity of Eagle Creek and at Eagle Nest Butte, the Wood Mountain Trail intercepts the Moose Mountain Trail. This historic path started at Wolf Point and snaked northeast into Canada, leaving the United States in the area of Port Raymond, north of Plentywood. The Assiniboine used it, as did other early day wanderers.
The area around Redstone and east, especially in the badlands of Big Muddy Creek, is cattle country. Every side road you follow offers great scenery and a lack of civilization.
This now quiet corner of Montana, between Scobey and Plentywood, experienced a wild and colorful past. A stock inspector noted in his files that, “This is the most lawless and crookedest country in the union and the Big Muddy is the worst of it.” It had it all … Indians, outlaws, horse and cattle rustlers, bootleggers, homesteaders, baseball rivalries, newspaper wars, political battles, communists and car thieves.
At the site of present day Plentywood, Sitting Bull and his Sioux people surrendered to the US Army. The Outlaw Trail crossed into Canada north of here. Rustlers moved their stolen cattle and horses along this passage and across the border. Butch Cassidy named the trail and established a rest station in the Big Muddy Valley to the west. At the turn of the century, the gulches around Plentywood harbored every manner of outlaw. This area was “The Old West” of legend.
Stay the night in Plentywood, now a peaceful farming town. Like Scobey, its main street is very appealing and make certain you visit the Sheridan County Museum and the Hi-Line Sport store’s diverse wildlife display. How does a place sitting out on the high plains get the name of Plentywood? In the era of the open range, several cowboys and a cook from the nearby Diamond outfit were attempting to build a buffalo chip fire. Old Dutch Henry told them, “if you’ll go a couple of miles up this creek, you’ll find plenty wood.” These words of wisdom were remembered when the town got its start.
East of Plentywood is a good side trip to the prairie pothole country and the town of Westby.
From Plentywood, take Hwy 16 to your next night’s destination in Culbertson, considered the oldest town in eastern Montana. Tour the little towns en route, but make Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge your main goal. Spend the major portion of your day here. This large lake, sitting in the pre-ice-age channel of the Missouri River, is the summer home of more than 100,000 migratory waterfowl. Great blue herons, white pelicans, sandhill cranes, grebes, and ten different species of ducks share this prairie lake ecosystem. Self-guided hiking tours and an 18-mile driving tour around the wildlife refuge are options. One stop is the site of stone teepee rings that dot the land where ancient Indian lodges were built. At the refuge headquarters, a100-foot observation tower gives you a panoramic view. Be sure to explore the sandhills before leaving Medicine Lake.
When you arrive in Culbertson, especially if the light is good, drive south for a few miles on Hwy 16 for a grand view of the “Big Muddy” and surrounding badlands. Lewis and Clark passed through here during the first few days of May 1805.
Be certain to visit the Culbertson museum and Visitors Center east of town. It offers a great collection of artifacts and historical photographs.
From Culbertson, the distance following US 2 back to Wolf Point is 47 miles. In the latter half of the 1800s, this was the Minnesota Wagon Road used by Pony Express riders corning from Minneapolis. An old roadhouse still stands at the meeting of Big Muddy Creek and the Missouri River.
Take your time heading back to Wolf Point. Stop in the couple of towns en route and venture a side road or two down to the Missouri and try to visualize the trappers in their dugout boats or the steamboats heading up river to Fort Benton.
MEETING OF THE WATERS … THE MISSOURI AND YELLOWSTONE ROUTE
The “Sunrise City” is what some people call Sidney, the largest town in northeast Montana. This agricultural community situated on the banks of the Yellowstone River, a short distance from the North Dakota line, is your base for roaming the southeastern sector of Missouri River Country. On April 27, 1805, Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery, first entered what would become Montana, 20 miles to the northeast of the current-day city. A couple of days previous to that, they camped at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, just across what is now the Montana-North Dakota border. The Expedition again passed through one year later on the return trip.
Spend several days in the area, especially if you enjoy warm water fishing and exploring colorful back roads. As a start, visit Sidney’s MonDak Heritage Center, a history museum and regional art center. This eastern Montana treasure includes an extensive historical library.
To get a view of some of the Yellowstone Breaks and Badlands, head three miles south of town on Hwy 16 and then turn left at Route 23. Go another three miles until you meet Hwy 261. Turn right heading south. This road is known locally as “The Lost Highway.” Use your Montana Atlas and Gazetteer for guidance. The most scenic approach to the Yellowstone River is about 17 miles south to Road 106. You’ll be traversing private land, so stay on the road. That won’t hinder you from seeing great scenery.
Photography in this area is best in the late afternoon. Morning is not bad, however, you’ll need to wait till the sun clears the huge bluffs that guard the east side of the river. The river meanders here and the mass of cottonwoods on the islands and along the banks make great spring and fall images. Retrace your route back to town.
For another day trip or half day out of Sidney, go west on Hwy 200 to Lambert and Fox Lake Wildlife Management Area, location of the Three Buttes sketched by John J. Audubon in 1843. Rolling hills and prairie grasslands interspersed with strip farming dominate the scenery. There is a network of back roads you can follow from Lambert south and then east to Crane on Hwy 16, eleven miles south of Sidney.
North of Sidney, travel to Fairview, the town divided by the Montana/North Dakota border. Ask locally how to get to the Snowden/Nohly Bridge, a mammoth steel structure that spans the Missouri. Built in 1913 for the Great Northern Railroad, at one time both trains and cars used it.
Beyond Fairview, going north on North Dakota 58, along the state line, you’ll come to Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site. The original fort built in 1828 by the American Fur Company, rose at the convergence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. The National Park Service manages today’s reconstructed version. It’s well worth seeing anytime, but especially if you can make it on the occasion of the Fort Union Rendezvous. Check with the Sidney Chamber of Commerce as to the dates. The Fort is in North Dakota while the parking lot is in Montana.
For fishing access with a boat ramp, drive south of Sidney about 21 miles to Savage and the Elk Island and Seven Sisters wildlife management areas on the Yellowstone River. These wildlife havens provide habitat for waterfowl, turkeys and whitetail deer; hunting is allowed.
Another trip out of Sidney involves a 95-mile loop of varied river breaks, the Missouri River, badlands scenery and good photography opportunities. Follow Hwy 16 northwest to Culbertson, 37 miles away. At Culbertson, turn east on US 2, it’s only 16 miles to Bainville. After exploring this small town, head south on the Bainville-Snowden Road. Ask directions in Bainville and follow your map. The road takes off on the south end of the town. It’s 15 miles from there to Fort Union and about another 25 miles back to Sidney.
FOUR BUTTES. POPLAR RIVER AND ROCK CREEK BADLANDS ROUTE
Glasgow serves again as a point of departure for another exploration journey into a quiet corner of Missouri River Country. This circle trip covers about 202 miles. Take at least two days to negotiate it. You’ll be driving through spring wheat country for most of the way. Big vistas, patterns of strip farming and rolling grasslands will be your companions.
After your night in Glasgow, get an early start; the morning light is great for photography. Turn two miles east of town onto Route 24 and head north toward Opheim, 51 miles. Out to the west of Route 24, beyond a few farm roads, lies some of the wildest prairie lands in the northern part of Missouri River Country-Bitter Creek.
Opheim is part of a rich wheat-growing region. During the homestead era, this community and the ones to the east were all much larger.
It’s about 46 miles from Opheim to Scobey along Hwy 5. In-between, you’ll pass four small towns, Glentana, Richland, Peerless, and Four Buttes; each about ten miles apart. Take the time to look in on them.
Four Buttes took on the name of the stately buttes to the northwest. At one time, they were called the Whiskey Buttes, as apparently, liquor trading with the native people was a popular activity near these landmarks. Spend the night in Scobey and visit Pioneer Town-considered one of the best museums of its kind in the west. By roaming the buildings and collections of early day clothing, equipment, etc. you’ll get a good understanding of the very colorful human history of Missouri River Country.
From Scobey, take Hwy 13 south through the Poplar River Valley to US 2 and the valley of the Missouri River, 48 miles away. Turn right on US 2 to Wolf Point and head back to Glasgow.
Spend the night here and the next day drive 29 miles west on US 2 to Hinsdale on the Milk River. North of town, you’ll find some of the most spectacular and seldom visited badlands in Montana. Rock Creek Road, about two miles east of Hinsdale, heads north to Canada and leads into this region. About 18 miles up the road you’ll be skirting the western edge of a true prairie wilderness … the Bitter Creek region. Check with the BLM Office in Glasgow for a map and a description of the Bitter Creek Wildlife Viewing Area. It’s a loop trip through these badlands. The BLM recommends the use of a 4 -wheel drive vehicle and that you take a full eight hours to do the trip.
The terrain you’ll be driving through along Rock Creek is cowboy country. The ranches are big here and distances between human presences are great. You can camp in Hinsdale if you want to see more of these badlands or fish the Milk River.
On the way back to Glasgow via US 2, turn at the sign for Vandalia and follow Hwy 246 back to Glasgow. Vandalia and Tampico, also on this back road, were thriving places during the homestead years.
JORDAN COUNTRY. CIRCLE RANGE AND CMR WILDLIFE REFUGE ROUTE
Late 1800s photographer L. A. Huffman called it “The Big Open,” National Geographic termed it “Jordan Country” and others call the sparsely populated country south of Fort Peck Lake “The Big Dry.” Jordan is the heart of this scenic territory and the start of your journey in the southern province of Missouri River Country.
Rising from the banks of Big Dry Creek and straddling Montana Hwy 200, Jordan was founded in about 1896. The town and surrounding expanse of rangeland are still very much cowboy country and the place retains an old west flavor. False front buildings on main street haven’t changed much since the communities early days … some are over 80 years old.
This seat of Garfield County is your entry to some of the most remote and beautiful mix of deep river canyons, badlands and prairie wilderness in the west. The most rugged of the terrain is part of Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge. Wildlife abounds out here … antelope, elk, mule deer, white-tail deer, wild turkeys, sage grouse and numerous waterfowl make these lands their home.
The loop route you’ll take is about 227 miles long. You can do it in a day, but allow at least two.
From Jordan, drive east on Hwy 200 toward Circle, 67 miles away. Fifteen miles out, you’ll enter a ten-mile stretch of very spectacular views of red and yellow colored buttes, badlands and distant vistas. Catch this landscape in the early morning or late afternoon for the best photo opportunities.
The terrain between Jordan and Circle is famous amongst paleontologists for its fantastic fossil beds. In 1902, Tyrannosaurus Rex was discovered in the Hell Creek Formation. See the dinosaur display in the museum when you return to Jordan.
Before reaching Circle and the Red Water Creek Valley, you’ll leave the miniature desert of badlands and come upon a softer, rolling high plains covered with the eye-pleasing geometric designs of strip farming.
Circle was another “cow town” and today is still very agriculturally oriented. It picked up its name from the Circle Ranch, one of Montana’s earliest cattle outfits. While you are here, make sure and visit the McCone County Pioneer Museum.
To the south of town, you’ll note a distinct range of high sandstone hills. They are the Big Sheep Mountains named after the Audubon Sheep that lived there until the early 1900s.
From Circle, go north 53 miles on Hwy 13 through farming country to US 2 and then left to Wolf Point. Continue through Wolf Point and the Missouri River Valley to Nashua. At Nashua, turn south on Hwy 117 to the community of Fort Peck. Just beyond the town you’ll meet Montana 24. Turn left heading across the dam. This road leads to the east of Fort Peck Lake through an area called the Dry Arm. If you’d like to camp, put a boat in the water or just see the lake from the eastern shore, take advantage of the recreation areas along here. There are several and they are well marked, but make sure you get a map in Fort Peck or have the state distributed Montana highway map with you for reference. Watch the weather. The roads to these places are best used in dry weather.
Sixty miles from the Fort Peck town site on Montana 24, you’ll again reach Hwy 200. Turn right toward Jordan. Stay in Jordan a couple of days or camp in the Missouri Breaks. There are many roads and trails throughout this wilderness. Before striking out, inquire at the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge office in town. They can advise you on conditions and the best routes to follow. It’s very important to get good information to make the most of your time. This is big territory you’ll be wandering into.
Hell Creek State Park, on Fort Peck Lake, 26 miles north of Jordan is a popular area. On the way there you’ll go through the scenic Piney Buttes and high rises on the road that offer excellent views of some of the upper reaches of the Missouri Breaks and the CMR Refuge. Devil’s Creek, Snow Creek and Crooked Creek are also worthwhile places to visit. The Haxby Road, east of Jordan, reaches a long way out through the badlands into the Breaks. Make sure when you talk to the government folk in town, you inquire about this route. And ask them about Smokey Butte west of Jordan. It’s an interesting place you might want to see.
Out here in the Breaks, the rich light of evening makes for the best picture taking opportunities. This is a place that will amaze you … it is truly an uncommon landscape and one of the most fantastic wilderness regions of America.