Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
Guide

Introduction

The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument covers almost 400,000 acres of Montana. It is packed with beautiful scenery in every direction you look, including a roaring river and monumental cliffs and bluffs. Visitors enjoy a plethora of fun activities such as kayaking, hiking, fishing, floating down the Missouri River, and more. It is run by the Bureau of Land Management and has been since early 2001. There are several different animals and plants you may come across while visiting. One of the main things drawing people into the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument area is the fishing opportunities! In addition, some of the plants are native to this area of Montana and can't be found elsewhere in the country. Many people enjoy camping at one of the nearby campgrounds to get away from their busy day-to-day life. You can relax on your trip here by floating down several miles of the river, kayaking, or just kicking back at your campsite. The actual monument itself was created to protect and preserve the Missouri Breaks in Montana. Several visitors come from all over the United States to spend some much needed time out in nature.

RV Rentals in Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument

Transportation

Driving

No matter where you're coming from, you'll have to travel on the Missouri Breaks National Back Country Byway. That being said, there are a variety of different terrains you may have to drive on. This can include gravel roads, paved roads, and unsurfaced roads. When it is snowing or raining, you will not be able to drive on unsurfaced roads.

The smallest amount of rainfall can turn these dirt roads into a life-threatening terrain. Because there is no cell phone service in the area, it is suggested to check the weather before you leave, pack plenty of water and snacks, and have extra fuel available in your vehicle.

Also, some of these roads can be quite winding, if you're driving an RV or larger vehicle, take your time around sharp curves. Lastly, once you've reached your destination it may be important to know that several areas of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument can only be accessed by foot or water, not by vehicle.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument

Campsites in Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument

First-come first-served

Judith Landing Recreation Area

Judith Landing Campground can be found along the halfway point of the Missouri River. This campground is a beautiful spot to get away from your daily life. Each campground is shaded from the sun, giving you a cool and relaxing place to stay.

You'll have beautiful views of the White Cliffs and the river. BLM camp hosts are available from May through September. There is a private store nearby if you need any essentials during your stay.

They offer camping for primitive campers, RVs, and hammocks. There are no hookups for RVs, making it a perfect escape into nature. This is a wonderful BLM Campground that is open from May to mid-October.

If you're looking to get out on the water on the boat, this may be the campground for you. There are a total of eight campsites available for all ages. Judith Landing provides picnic tables, grills, a boat launch, and toilets for campers. This campground is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Coal Banks Landing Recreation Site

Coal Banks Landing Recreation Site is a free campground that has 13 campsites available for any type of camping. The campsite provides picnic tables, water, toilets, a boat launch, and picnic tables. There are plenty of spots to fish or hike if you enjoy outdoor activities.

There are a total of five acres to camp on and it is open year-round. This campground is known for how quiet and peaceful it is, which can make your trip that much more relaxing.

This is a prime spot to set up for a few nights, as it is right on the Missouri River. This also is a bonus for those looking to spend some time out on the water, as a boat launch is readily available. You will be surrounded by massive bluffs, the river and beautiful scenery all around you. Camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis and there are no reservations.

James Kipp Recreation Area

Located on the National Historic Trail you will find James Kipp Recreation Area. This is a campground that has plenty of activities available for visitors. You can go boating, hunting, fishing, enjoy a nature hike, get out on the water to paddle, and more.

There are 34 campsites available for campers of all ages. The roads around the recreation area are gravel, and there are pads for trailers. They even provide a warming unit at campsites for an extra nightly fee.

James Kipp Recreation Area provides picnic tables, grills, toilets, water, and a dump station. You will be surrounded by gorgeous views of the mountains and you'll be able to fall asleep to the relaxing sound of the river nearby.

There is a 14 day limit for each camper and no reservations are available. You will be able to get a campsite for you and your loved ones on a first-come, first-served basis.

Seasonal activities in Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument

In-Season

Floating

Easily the most popular activity to do when visiting the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument is to float down the river. The Wild and Scenic River's main floating area is 44 miles long and it takes three to four days to float the entirety of the river.

If you're looking for a longer trip, you can go 68 miles in four to five days. The majority of the river is rather calm, but the stretch between Judith Landing and James Kipp Recreation Area can be a little rough.

Hunting

Hunting is another popular activity that takes place in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. This is because there are several big game animals such as deer, antelope, and elk.

There are also game birds such as turkeys that are often hunted as well. You may need to look into getting a license from the state of Montana as well as a permit. Hunting access is limited to vehicles and foot traffic only.

Boating

With the Missouri River being the main attraction here, there are plenty of boating opportunities for visitors to take advantage of. First off, it is important to note that motorized watercraft are allowed here, but the BLM has certain restrictions when using a motorized watercraft from June until mid-September.

You can always travel with a canoe or kayak on the water. This is a great way to get a different view of the area and take in the beautiful sights around you!

Off-Season

Hiking

If you're wanting to get a workout in on your trip here, there are plenty of different areas to hike. The train ranges quite a bit. There are steep slopes for the more advanced hiker, as well as flat, but still rocky terrain for someone who is a beginner or looking for a more relaxed hike.

You can hike along the river or through the woods to spend time in nature and see everything that the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument has to offer.

Fishing

Fishing in the mountains is one of the most relaxing activities you can do in Montana. Within the river, you'll find nearly 50 species of fish. The most common types that anglers catch our walleye, northern pike, drama, goldeneye, carp, channel cat, and smallmouth buffalo.

The upper Missouri River has the largest population of paddlefish. You're most likely to catch one during the spring upstream. The paddlefish in the river can weigh up to 140 pounds, which can be an impressive catch to many fishermen.

Wildlife Viewing

Believe it or not, there are over 60 different mammals and hundreds of different birds in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Depending on when you visit, you may be able to see pronghorn antelope, mule deer, beavers, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, and more.

The animals and wildlife you're able to see can also vary depending on where you're camping. It's always advised to bring a pair of binoculars to increase your chance of seeing animals in their natural habitat.

Find the perfect campsite.