Lewis and Clark navigated the Missouri River in 1804. More than two centuries later, there’s still a lot to discover along the river’s Wild and Scenic portion, where even novice canoeists can paddle past 200-foot-high chalky white cliffs, sprawling cottonwoods, bald eagles, and beavers. Off the river, this region is about subtle beauty, from the rolling grasslands to charming towns right out of the Old West.
This old settlement is now a magnet for entrepreneurs who serve travelers here to launch river trips. Adventure Bound Canoe can rent you gear or guide you on everything from a half-day paddle to a three-day trip, camping along the way. If you choose the latter, they’ll shuttle your car to the takeout at Judith Landing. If you don’t have time to actually float the river, the Upper Missouri River Breaks Interpretive Center has a 3-D scale model of the river corridor and a short film on the White Cliffs.
In the midst of five mountain ranges, this ranching community in the geographic center of the state is also home to the Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Western Music Rendezvous every August and offers excellent brook trout fishing on the nearby Judith River.
EAT & STAY: The 123-room Yogo Inn sits adjacent to the biking and walking paths of the Lewistown Trail System. The specialty at Stetson's, the linen-tableclothed restaurant at the Yogo Inn, is Montana-cut prime rib.
Home to the 84,000-acre Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge (where more than 260 bird species have been observed), Malta offers plenty in the way of wildlife and the kid-friendly Great Plains Dinosaur Museum.
Sitting at the head of 134-mile-long Fort Peck Lake Reservoir, Fort Peck is a mecca for anglers in search of walleye and northern pike. Surrounding the lake is the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, a brilliant spot to hike, camp, and bird-watch. Save time to see a show—from a musical comedy to a dramatic play—at the historic Fort Peck Theatre.
On the edge of this agricultural college town is Wahkpa Chu’gn, a 2,000-year-old bison-hunting ground. An hour southeast is Bear Paw Battlefield, where Chief Joseph famously surrendered to the U.S. Army.