Little Missouri River
North Dakota is home to several major rivers, each of course displaying their unique character: However the river than perhaps best represents the character of the state is the Little Missouri River. It is, after all, North Dakota’s only designated state Scenic River.
Most everyone in the state if familiar with this river, but I suspect few among us are knowledgeable about its upper reaches. Is the source in the southwestern corner of the state? Montana? Northwestern South Dakota?
The Little Missouri River starts in northeastern Wyoming, west of Devils Tower near the town of Oshoto. From there it flows northeastward through southeast Montana and into northwestern South Dakota before trending northward into North Dakota south of Marmarth. From there it flows north through Medora. It continues to flow northward, of course, and eventually takes a right turn and crosses highway 85 about 15 miles south of Watford City. It then continues eastward, eventually flowing into Little Missouri Bay of Lake Sakakawea north of Killdeer.
The total length of the Little Missouri River is around 560 miles. The beauty of this river flowing thought the heart of the North Dakota badlands provides a wonderful canoeing opportunity for the adventurous among us. One stretch of the river that is popular with canoeists is from Medora to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park This stretch of the river takes the adventurer through approximately 100 river miles of some of the most scenic country in the state. Plus there are ample opportunities to observe bison, mule deer, eagles, and a myriad of plants ranging from aspen and cottonwood to big sagebrush and buffalo grass.
However, the flow rates of the river generally make for a small canoeing window during the spring. But don’t let that small window of opportunity keep you from considering enjoying a little Natural North Dakota from a canoe on the “Little Mo.” The North Dakota Parks and Recreation’s website contains helpful information for canoeists as well as a link to stream flow conditions from the U.S.G.S. Whatever your preferences, make a point to get to know this interesting river a little better this year.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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