upper missouri national wild and scenic river birding trails


Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center (fee): from US 87 exit east towards Fort Benton, follow signs (cultural and natural history displays, float information and regulations). Two birding areas are reached from land as well as water: 3,300-acre Wood Bottom Recreation Area (north on US 87 to mile marker 51 near Loma, east on graveled Loma Bridge Road 0.8 miles, right at Wood Bottom Boat Launch sign, to campground road past boat launch. Road is impassable when wet; 40-acre James Kipp Recreation Area (60 miles northeast of Lewistown on US 191).

General Information

Float from Fort Benton to James Kipp Recreation Area passing through 149 miles of scenic, remote lands in 7-10 days, including spectacular White Cliffs. Basic canoeing skills; shorter floats possible. Bighorn sheep and elk below Judith Landing. Best traveled May through September. Advanced planning essential.


Cottonwood, shrubs, sagebrush, short grass prairie, cliffs

Highlighted Species

Yellow-breasted chat, spotted towhee, brown thrasher (Wood Bottom); common poorwill (listen at Eagle Creek); white-throated swifts, rock wrens (Hole in the Wall); prairie falcons (cliffs); green-tailed towhee (McClelland); burrowing owl (Holmes Rapids, south bank prairie dog town); red-eyed vireo, brown thrasher, mountain bluebird, common nighthawk, yellow-headed blackbird, great horned owl, sometimes long-eared owl at James Kipp Recreation Area, American white pelican, bald eagle, osprey, western kingbird, Bullock’s oriole.

Facilities and Services

Camping along river, vault toilets some sites; all services Fort Benton, Lewistown; lodging at Virgelle. Canoe/kayak rental, shuttling services, guided floats available at Fort Benton, Virgelle, Loma. Bird list at James Kipp Recreation Area.


Upper Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center
Bureau of Land Management
701 7th Street
Fort Benton, MT 59442
1-877-256-3252 (toll free)