North Dakota Water Science Center
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The Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the contiguous United States and retains most of its natural habitat characteristics and flows. Explorers Lewis and Clark made note of the Yellowstone River on their journey to the Pacific and explored it on their return trip. On April 25, 1805, Captain Meriwether Lewis saw the Yellowstone River for the first time and described it as follows:
I ascended the hills from whence I had a most pleasing view of the country, particularly of the wide and fertile vallies formed by the missouri and the yellowstone rivers, which occasionally unmasked by the wood on their borders disclose their meanderings for many miles in their passage through these delightfull tracts of country. I could not discover the junction of the rivers immediately, they being concealed by the wood; however, sensible that it could not be distant I determined to encamp on the bank of the Yellow stone river which made it's appearance about 2 miles South of me. the whol face of the country was covered with herds of Buffaloe, Elk & Antelopes; deer are also abundant but keep themelves more concealed in the woodland. the buffaloe Elk and Antelope are so gentle that we pass near them while feeding, without appearing to excite any alarm among them.
The Yellowstone River is well known for its scenic beauty within Yellowstone National Park, especially in the lower and upper falls. From Yellowstone National Park, the river flows northeast through Montana. The last 17 miles of the river are in North Dakota, before the Yellowstone joins the Missouri River. This area is part of the River Breaks ecoregion and is characterized by eroded hills with wooded draws descending to the rivers. The area where the two rivers join is known as "the Confluence" and is a favorite spot for its scenery and recreational opportunities.
The Confluence area also has several historical attractions, including Fort Union National Historic Site and Fort Buford State Historic Site. Captain William Clark, on April 26, 1805, was the first to note that this was a prime area for a fort, saying:
on the forks about 1 mile from the point at which place the 2 rivers are near each other a butifull low leavel plain commences, and extends up the Missouri & back, this plain is narrow at its commencement and widens as the Missouri bends north, and is bordered by an extencive wood land for many miles up the Yellow Stone river, this low plain is not Subject to over flow, appear to be a fiew inches above high water mark and affords a butifull commanding situation for a fort near the commencement of the Prarie.
Yellowstone River Resources
Below are images of scenery along the Yellowstone River. Click on an image to view a larger version. Use your browser's back command to return to this page.
To read more about Lewis and Clark's exploration of the area, click HERE.