The Upper Missouri River Breaks Monument
The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument comprises 375,000 acres of public land in central Montana. It is part of the nation’s system of National Conservation Lands administered by the BLM. The National Conservation Lands include approximately 27 million acres of National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Scenic and Historic Trails. These lands hold a spectacular array of plant life, wildlife, unique geological features, endless recreational opportunities and significant historical and cultural values.
The 149-mile Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River flows through the monument. The land and the rugged, surrounding uplands (commonly called the Missouri Breaks) are defined in part by their history. The entire region was the homeland and lifeblood of American Indians. The river served as the pathway for Lewis and Clark, then as a waterway for steamboats and a drawing card for fur trappers and traders. Later, the river and the Missouri Breaks were sanctuaries for desperados trying to stay a step ahead of the law. The land was also a source of hope and inspiration for several generations of homesteaders. Today the public lands in the monument make a significant contribution to the local lifestyle and the regional economy.
As a route of western expansion, the Missouri River had few equals. Lewis and Clark spent three weeks, from May 24 through June 13, 1805, exploring the segment that is now the Upper Missouri National Wild & Scenic River. Today this portion is considered to be the premier component of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.
The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument is part of the National Conservation Lands, a 31-million-acre group of National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Study Areas and more. They are lesser known than America’s National Parks, but equally as beautiful and valuable.