North Dakota Water Science Center
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Little Missouri River
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
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.
To read what Lewis and Clark said about the Little Missouri River, click HERE.