ecreation and history abound in
the Upper Missouri River Breaks
The Breaks were a wonder to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during their
voyage with the Corps of Discovery and
have provided a spot for recreation and
work for most of the time since.
President Bill Clinton declared more
than 377,000 acres of public Breaks land
as monument in January 2001. About
120,000 more acres of state and private
land are reserved to become part of the
monument if sold or given to the federal
government. The Bureau of Land Management, which managed the land before Clinton’s proclamation, continues to manage the
Access to the monument is generally
by gravel roads, although, highways from
Malta and Harlem meet and cross the Missouri just off the eastern edge of the monu-
of the Missouri River Breaks
ment in the James Kipp Recreation Area.
Many outfitters are licensed to run
boating trips and other organized expeditions down the river, and two of the three
ferries operating on the upper Missouri
are in the monument. One is at Virgelle,
and the McClelland Ferry joins the roads
between Chinook and Winifred.
BLM has a visitor center in a more
than 100-year-old building in Fort Benton,
a town that is a registered historic site. Volunteers staff the center during the summer
months and provide information about the
monument, the Fort Benton community and
local sites. The center also has a bookstore
and interpretive displays.
Some commercial uses of the Breaks,
including cattle grazing and oil and gas
exploration on existing leases, continue.
Recreational uses include camping, hiking,
fishing, hunting, sightseeing and noncommercial fossil seeking as permitted by rules
and regulations prior to the area becoming
Vehicles are allowed on existing roads
and authorized trails, but the area is closed
to off-road use of motorized or mechanized
vehicles, including mountain bikes.
A variety of plants and animals live
in the monument, including more than 60
species of mammals, 20 amphibians and
reptiles, and 48 species of fish.
For more information, contact the BLM
River Management Station in Fort Benton at
(406) 622-3839, or the Fort Benton Visitors
Center at (406) 622-5185.
On the Net: BLM Upper Missouri
Breaks Monument: www.blm.gov/mt/st/