River Ferry – Second Time This Summer

The McClelland river ferry north of Winifred, MT is about 150 miles from Great Falls where I live but gosh, this is the second time I’ve been there in about 3 weeks.

The drive from Winifred to the Missouri River and the ferry is 15 miles on a good gravel road, then a couple of miles on a dirt road. Wow, the terrain really starts to change as you get closer to the river.

We followed a BLM truck heading north. This area alongside the river is part of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument and the public land agency that manages it is the Bureau of Land Management.

By time we got to the river the workers in the BLM truck had already paged the ferry operator who lives on the other side of the Missouri. There is a mailbox with a paging phone in it and that’s how you reach the operator on the other side. It may sound primitive but that is the charm of the three river ferries in Russell Country. The other ferries are located at Carter and Virgelle.

We didn’t load my car on the ferry but we all walked on and rode across, then back. Here’s a group shot of us crossing the mighty MO on the McClelland Ferry!

Due to winter weather the ferries are pulled from the river usually in November, then put back in around April. In a location like this, it’s the only way to get across the river without traveling considerable distance.

In this area you can also access an amazing scenic drive, the Missouri Breaks National Backcountry Byway.

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