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Little Missouri River

Description


The headwaters of the Little Missouri River, historically also called Wakpa Chan Shoka, are in northeastern Wyoming.  The river flows from south to north through parts of Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and the rugged badlands and rolling prairie of western North Dakota.  In North Dakota, the Little Missouri River enters the southwestern corner of the State and flows in a northerly and then easterly direction to its confluence with Lake Sakakawea near Killdeer.  The river flows through the Little Missouri National Grasslands and Theodore Roosevelt National Park and is the only river that the State has designated as a scenic river.

The Little Missouri River is characterized by a highly seasonal flow.  Before canoeing, it is important to check conditions on the river to determine that the river is not flooding and that there is adequate water for canoeing.

The Little Missouri River has a drainage area of about 4,750 square miles in North Dakota.  The treeless and barren slopes of the Little Missouri River Basin produce rapid and excessive overland runoff, and tributary streams flood frequently.  Because the river channels of the basin are in the easily eroded shale and sandstone of the badlands, large quantities of sediment are transported downstream.

Physiographic points of interest along the Little Missouri River in North Dakota include Doaks Butte, Cedar Ridge, Cedar Hills, Pretty Butte, Bullion Butte, Chimney Butte, Peaceful Valley, Beef Corral Bottom, Pikes Peak, Wolf Draw, Hay Draw, Grassy Butte, Black Top Butte, Buckhorn Butte, Ice Box Canyon, Achenbach Hills, Sperati Point, Round Top Butte, Wolf Chief Bay, Sagebrush Coulee, Moccasin Creek Bay, Charging Eagle Bay, String Buttes, Hidatsa Bay, Bear Creek Bay, McKenzie Bay, Water Chief Bay, Hay Flat, and Lake Sakakawea.


Little Missouri River Resources




Little Missouri River Mileage South to North

Marmarth to Billings County Line

Billings County Line to Medora

Medora to Elkhorn Ranch Site

Elkhorn Ranch Site to McKenzie County Line

McKenzie County Line to US Highway 85 (Long X Bridge)

US Highway 85 to ND Highway 22 (Lost Bridge)

79.0 miles

41.5 miles

39.5 miles

  9.5 miles

58.5 miles

40.5 miles

Scenery


Below are images of scenery along the Little Missouri River.  Click on an image to view a larger version.  Use your browser's back command to return to this page.

Aerial photograph of Marmarth, North Dakota
Aerial photograph of Marmarth
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

Aerial photograph of Medora, North Dakota
Aerial photograph of Medora
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

The Little Missouri River from a canoe, near Cottonwood Campground in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The Little Missouri River from a canoe, near Cottonwood Campground in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
June 22, 2001
Credit: National Park Service

Bull bison on the banks of the Little Missouri River, near Cottonwood Campground in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Bull bison on the banks of the Little Missouri River, near Cottonwood Campground in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
June 22, 2001
Credit: National Park Service

A wild horse on the banks of the Little Missouri River, near Cottonwood Campground in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
A wild horse on the banks of the Little Missouri River, near Cottonwood Campground in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
June 25, 2001
Credit: National Park Service

View from Wind Canyon Overlook in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
View from Wind Canyon Overlook in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
July 16, 1999
Credit: National Park Service

View from Wind Canyon Overlook in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
View from Wind Canyon Overlook in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
July 27, 2001
Credit: National Park Service

People crossing the Little Missouri River at the north boundary of the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
People crossing the Little Missouri River at the north boundary of the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
May 31, 2001
Credit: National Park Service

Banks of the Little Missouri River
Banks of the Little Missouri River
Credit: National Park Service

The Little Missouri River in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The Little Missouri River in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
August 1963
Credit: National Park Service

CCC Shelter, built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, overlooking the Little Missouri River in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
CCC Shelter, built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, overlooking the Little Missouri River in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
June 1990
Credit: National Park Service

The Little Missouri River viewed from the CCC Shelter in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The Little Missouri River viewed from the CCC Shelter in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
August 24, 2001
Credit: National Park Service

Aerial photograph of Long X Bridge Crossing, south of Watford City
Aerial photograph of Long X Bridge Crossing, south of Watford City
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

Little Missouri River near Watford City, North Dakota
Little Missouri River near Watford City
May 1943
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

Aerial photograph of the Little Missouri River entering Lake Sakakawea
Aerial photograph of the Little Missouri River entering Lake Sakakawea
June 16, 1995
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

To read what Lewis and Clark said about the Little Missouri River, click HERE.


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Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 09-Dec-2009 15:24:24 EST
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