Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, Montana

Photo by Bob Wick/BLM

Where in the West Should I Go? • 52 Places to Visit in 2022

You won’t find Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument on most travel lists, but it sure does deserve to be. 

Located in north central Montana (and obviously on the Missouri River), this national monument is remote, and access isn’t as easy as more popular public lands. However, those who take the time to figure it out will be rewarded.

Much of the area only has unmaintained gravel roads. BLM, which operates the monument, encourages visits to the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center or Lewistown or Havre Field Offices, which offer maps and other information.

There are many areas here that can only be accessed by foot – or boat. Boating, of course, is one of the primary activities and a major reason to visit. 

Two of the main launch points into the river are at Judith Landing (mile 88.5) and the James Kipp Recreation Area (mile 149). The monument, in fact, spans 149 miles of the river.

Segments of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Nez Perce National Historic Trail run through this area as well. Meriwether Lewis wrote of these lands: “The hills and river clifts, which we passed today exhibit a most romantic appearance.”

Long before Lewis and Clark came through, the area was inhabited by Native tribes including the Blackfeet, Assiniboine, Crow, Plains Cree and Plains Ojibwa.