The community of Fort Benton is surrounded by grain farms and grasslands. It’s an easy drive from Great Falls, just about 35 minutes up US Hwy 87.
What’s there to do in this small town? First of all, park your car. Talk a walk on Fort Benton’s historic river levee.
Statues, interpretive panels, the Keelboat Mandan and historic well-preserved homes and buildings across the street combine to make this one fine walk. You can also walk the paved walking trail that parallels the Missouri River.
One end of the river levee takes you almost to the Museum of the Upper Missouri (I call this the little museum based on the size of their other museums). Right next to that is the reconstructed Old Fort Benton. If you think you’ve already seen the fort – think again! The reconstruction continues to grow, most recently with one complete new building added. The perimiter fence is done. Soon there will be artwork, such as paintings by Karl Bodmer, adorning the interior of the newest building.
There is also a river launch/take out site right near the Old Fort Benton.
River history is portrayed well at the Bureau of Land Management’s Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument Interpretive Center.
As you enter the BLM center, you’ll see the famous white cliffs of the Missouri replicated on the exterior of the building.
The paved entrance to the center shows area rivers. It’s a great place to stop before beginning a river trip, or just to learn more about the animals and geology of the river area.
The Fort Benton area is where the Wild & Scenic designation for the Missouri River begins. That designation extends downstream for 149 river miles.
The river is used for canoeing, kayaking, motor boating and fishing. BLM manages campsites along the way for river travelers.
This is also the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument, a spectacular multiple-use area stretching downstream as far as James Kipp Recreation Area.
History and recreation are waiting – time to get out and explore!