The Missouri Breaks National Back Country Byway traverses one of the most geologically unique and historically significant areas in Montana. Nature worked overtime here to fashion a ruggedly spectacular landscape that was first described by Lewis and Clark as 'the Deserts of America.' Fur traders would later refer to this section of the Missouri River as Mauvaises Terres, the 'Bad Lands.'
The Byway leads visitors to scenes overlooking the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River. It was designated in 1976 to preserve the very values that are so abundant along the Byway. The Wild and Scenic Missouri River from Fort Benton down river to the James Kipp Recreation area is the foremost component of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail. The Byway northeast from Winifred to Deweese Ridge closely follows the Nez Perce National Historic Trail.
The Missouri River below Fort Benton has been used for recreation for as long as Montanans have turned to the out-of-doors for relaxation during their leisure time. The area is remote, rugged, and inaccessible in most places except by boat or four wheel drive. But, it also has its beauty and its opportunities for solitude and recreation in a primitive setting. All of these, together with the widely contrasting scenery, add to the charm that attracts thousands from around the nation and several foreign countries each year to Central Montana and to the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River.