If rivers could talk, the Missouri would tell a story few other rivers could match. Upon its waters and banks was played the drama of every major theme of people's history on the Western Plains - the Indian cultures, white man's exploration, the fur trade, gold fever, the steamboat era, the collision of white expansion with the Indian's last stronghold and the resultant military occupation, and finally the establishment of permanent white settlements, the range-cattle industry and farming.
Learning about these themes in a fun, informative manner is the goal of ROW Missouri River Expeditions. To help bring a part of the river's history alive, we'll travel in 34' canoes that replicate those of the early voyagers, or fur traders. as well, certain dates are designated as 'Journeys of Discovery' and are led by talented authors, historians and interpreters with specialized knowledge of the area.
Our voyager canoes are similar in size to the dugouts used by Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery. Each will carry up to 14 paddlers and two talented ROW guides, making the perfect platform for spinning yarns and pointing out the many points of interests along the way. (We also offer the option of smaller 17' Mad River canoes for those with prior canoeing experience.) The smooth and pleasant current with no rapids make this a trip anyone in reasonable physical condition can enjoy.
Our adventure begins when we meet you in Great Falls, Montana. On our first morning we visit the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. The life-like exhibits are arranged in the chronological order of the Corps of discovery expedition and highlight many of the Indian Tribes encountered. Visiting the Center is critical to understanding the history we encounter and is an inspirational beginning for our own adventure.
From Great Falls we drive an hour to the charming and historic town of Fort Benton, located on the banks of the Missouri River. Here we enjoy a picnic lunch and visit two more museums which focus on the history of Montana and the Northwest. Continuing from Fort Benton we drive another hour to our put-in at Coal Banks Landing. After a brief orientation we board our canoes around 4:00pm and begin paddling to our first night's camp. ROW's camp boat has traveled ahead and set up a luxury camp including all tents. We arrive in time to enjoy hors d'oeuvres as the low-slung sun casts golden hues on sandstone cliffs. After our five-course meal, the day ends with stories and songs around the campfire.
After a hearty breakfast on day two, the river carries our canoe from its wide, meandering valley into the famous White Cliffs area-a deep, rugged gorge which the Missouri has cut through the sedimentary floor of an ancient inland sea. Steep, eroded cliffs reach a depth of nearly a thousand feet and reveal 10 million years of geologic history. Wind and water have eroded the sediments, creating massive rock crags and magical castles of dazzling white sandstone looming above the river. The journals of Lewis & Clark are filled with superlatives describing these wonders.
After several dream-like days, we reach our take-out shortly after lunch, returning to our hotel in Great Falls by late afternoon.
Our 5-day trip through the White Cliffs area (48 miles) and continues downstream another 12 miles where the White Cliffs give way to a different topography: the badlands.
We invite you to float the Upper Missouri with ROW. A place where every paddle stroke and footstep resonates with history and wonder.
We offer these trips from June to September. July and August are the most popular months as the weather is generally hot and dry with ideal camping conditions. In June the weather is less predictable, yet generally very nice. Higher water creates a swifter current, which allow for more time on shore for hiking and exploring. September is a wonderful time to be on the water as few other people are around, trees are beginning to show where autumn colors and the air is cooler.
ROW (River Odysseys West and Remote Odysseys Worldwide) has been a leader in adventure travel since 1979.