EXPLORING MISSOURI RIVER COUNTRY
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. Of 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 short film on the White Cliffs.
EAT & STAY: Wake Cup Coffee House serves buttery pasteries and hearty pizzas. Recently renovated, the Grand Union Hotel is a short-walk from the Upper Missouri River Breaks Intrepretive Center.
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 wakling 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 84,00-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.
EAT & STAY: Book a room at the historic Great Northern Hotel and then order ribs at the Stockman Bar & Steakhouse.
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 Theater.
EAT & STAY: Stop in at the Gateway Club for a plate of Dam Big Nachos, then relax at the Fort Peck Hotel, where wooden rocking chairs and no TVs in the rooms make it easy to unplug.
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.
EAT & STAY: Rod's Drive-In prides itself on its "ugly" burgers, a locals' favorite. Best Western Plus Havre Inn & Suites overlooks the rolling plains and Milk River.