Theodore Roosevelt said that, “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm”. The Upper Missouri River Breaks,is located in east central Montana,it embodies the spirit of the wilderness that Roosevelt is writing about. The area has long been associated with the spirit of the American West and its inhabitants. The Upper Missouri River Breaks is a national monument protecting the Missouri Breaks of Central Montana.The Upper Missouri River Breaks is located near Lewistown, MT. The Upper Missouri River Breaks encloses an area of 375,000 acres near the landscape of Fort Benton. The rocks of The Upper Missouri River Breaks are usually sedimentary rocks that range in age from 70-90 million years old.
The sedimentary rocks were deposited during the Cretaceous period. The White Cliffs of The Upper Missouri River are made from sandstone, these sandstone cliffs contain dikes and sills that were formed by an injection of hot magma. The dikes and sills are highly resistant to erosion, geologists who visit The Upper Missouri River Breaks consider it to be a area made from intruding magma. Captain Meriwether Lewis was amazed by the Breaks he wrote in his journal that there were ” scenes of visionary enchantment.” The types of different animals found at The Upper Missouri River Breaks would be deer, pelicans, geese, ducks, eagles, and many other birds.
This area is has a rich habitat for animals. Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep exist in some locations along with elk. The dominant rocks of the Judith River formation are 70 million years old and it is made up of strong sandstone with thick layers of weak siltstone and shale. All of that makes up the badlands or The Missouri River Breaks. Some of the locations have dinosaur bone beds, but they are protected by federal law. The tops of the breaks are covered by a lot of Ponderosa Pine.Glaciers, volcanic activity, and erosion created and sculpted the landscape to the way it looks today.
Lewis and Clark also explored the area, but long before Lewis and Clark, the area was inhabited by a lot of Native Tribes, theses tribes were The Blackfeet, Assiniboine, Gros Ventre, Crow, Plains Cree, and Plains Ojibwa. The Missouri was named Peki-tan-oui on some of the early French maps.It later had been nicknamed “Big Muddy” because it a lot of solid matter that it carries in suspension. In 1673 French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet first encountered the mouth of the river while canoeing down the Mississippi River. By the early 1700’s French fur traders were navigating upstream.
For many years though fur trading was commerce. The Upper Missouri has frequent changes of weather because of it’s inland location. The winters are cold and the summers are hot. The breaks get about 16 inches of rain per year and 73 inches of snow.
The basin of the Upper Missouri River Breaks supports 300 species of birds.There are 150 species of fish within the entire Missouri River Basin.More than 75 years, the Congress has directed the U.S Army Corps of Engineers to manage flood control, navigation, and irrigation.
Flooding on the Missouri always increases with frequency and severity along with climate change. Communities in that area need better flood control solutions. Levees and dams are no longer the only line of defense. Missouri’s floodplains and wetlands absorb and store flood water,this plays a critical role in the next century of flood control. The Breaks have a 1,000 ft deep canyon, this stretch of the river is the craziest and the least traveled. Hundreds and thousands of acres is covered with amazing and spectacular views of land that flank the river.
This provides plenty of hiking trips and other fun activities to do there. This area is the Badlands of Missouri.