Canoeing the Missouri River

July-27 ~ Aug 1-2004


Missouri River - Montana

Published on 5-May-2012 by Ray Fried

Our First Canoe Trip

This was our first canoe trip. This trip was taken with Twyla’s brother Cork and some of his family and also Ray’s brother Dennis and his family. The trip was precipitated by Lewis and Clark bi-centennial and Cork’s huge double dug out canoe.

The Plan

UpperMissouri The “official” scheduled trip was to traverse the 149 mile stretch of the Missouri lying between Ft. Benton MT and the Kipp Recreation area however in getting there, we drove along a section north of Helena between Craig and Hardy MT. on Saturday 24-July-04 and noticed stunning scenery. The problem of how to shuttle the motorhome from one end of the 6-mile stretch was solved by a man we met as we attended a small Baptist church Sunday morning. He offered to drive us to the Craig terminus while leaving our motorhome at Hardy.

This was our first experience of running the wood strip canoe on a river (and rocks)!

Fellow Travelers

CanoesOnTrailer We met Cork/Leola in Stanford MT to load our small canoe on the trailer along with his 3000 lb double dugout canoe. Cork just finished this huge canoe/trailer project the week earlier to float a portion of the Yellowstone near Billings. The press was there and photographed the event. The front of our little 17-9 canoe was covered to protect it from small rocks on the road however by the time we finished the 149 mile stretch, it had encountered rocks as large as a VW Beetle!

One of the big problems of canoeing a river is shuttle the vehicles and in some cases carrying the food. For the most part, these problems were solved by Leola moving their motorhome down river to pre-determined sleeping spots. Dennis' wife Margie helped with the shuttling too.

Because we had this "shuttle service", we had very little camping gear in the canoes until the last segement of the trip.


GettingStarted Just like Lewis a Clark, decisions were needed along the way. When Cork found the Missouri to be too low to support his large canoe, a decision was made to rent two smaller canoes. Sand bars and rocks would have no doubt terminated his travels within ½ mile of Fort Benton. Here is Dennis’ son Steven helping Twyla paddle our cedar strip canoe. Steven paddled most of the 40 miles to Coal Banks Landing. Dennis and Daniel are in the canoe to the right.

First 20 Miles

CorkLeola Cork and Leola are making their way between Fort Benton and Wood Bottom, our first stop 20 miles down river.

Cork and Leola

CorkLeola2 Another shot of Cork and Leola

Odis and Cork

OdisCork Cork/Leola’s grandsons Odis and Othniel accompanied us on this portion of the trip. Here is Odis with Cork.

Still Paddling

Steven Othniel is between Steven (still paddling) and Twyla. Actually, one could traverse this by just floating (except when we had strong head winds) however to make time, we paddled all the way.

60 Miles Downriver

WhiteCliffs Cork along the white cliffs about 60 miles down river. By this time, Odis, Othniel and Steven abandoned ship and Leola was busy shuttling vehicles.

Dark Butte

DarkButte The seenery changed often which gave an opportunity to stop paddling and rest a bit.

More Resting

Resting More of Dark Butte with Ray and Twyla in the wood strip canoe.

The Citadel Rock


On To Kipp Landing

OnToKipp After the rest of the party abandoned us because of schedules, Twyla and Ray continued on from Judith Landing to the Kipp Recreation area. We had wind in the face for almost all of this 62-mile stretch. We made 38 miles in one day and completed the 149-mile trip the next. It was over this section that we encountered many rapids and at least one rock that turned us end-for-end. Fortunately no serious damage to us or the canoe!