SEVEN DAY RIVER TRIP
This seven-day river trip
takes you from Coal Banks Landing to James Kipp Recreation Area, inside the C. M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. It includes camping at
up to 2 Lewis and Clark
sites, and 4 other sites. Here the river flows through the white cliffs area and then
into the Missouri Breaks, before taking out near the highway 191 crossing at
James Kipp. The guide version of this trip includes all meals, camping gear,
canoes, river guides, lodging, and overland transportation. The guided version
of this trip is $400 per person per day. See
Unguided pricing options below
request to join a guided trip by clicking here...
20% discount, with reservations for 4 or more persons by
10% discount with all other reservations booked by April 1.*
(The following description is specific to the guided version of this river
trip. Use it as a general guideline for unguided trip planning.)
Missouri River Canoe Company strives for
perfection in everything we do for our guests. With a guided river trip package, we
seek to make our guests comfortable from the moment we greet them. As our
guest, you can expect personalized service from our courteous staff. If needed,
we will greet you at the airport or Amtrak station with a van, which brings you
to Virgelle, Montana.
At Virgelle you will find comfortable
accommodations in our bed & breakfast rooms and/or restored homestead cabins. On
the day of your departure into the Missouri River corridor, you start with a hearty
breakfast at the Virgelle Mercantile. Then some short instructions on packing
your gear, followed by a 5-minute shuttle ride to the launch site.
On your river expedition, you may
stop around noon to have a riverside lunch at Little Sandy Creek, some 10 miles
downstream. While at Little Sandy, you can hike to the site of an old Indian
encampment to view tipi rings. From here we paddle into the White Cliffs another
6 - 7 miles to Eagle Creek (Lewis and Clark's Stonewall Creek) where you set up camp for the
next 2 nights. (There is a contingency camp just 12 miles from the launch point
in case of paddling difficulties.)
While at Eagle Creek for the next
2 nights, you may enjoy
hiking to other Native
American sites, including a petroglyph. Another hike includes an excursion
into a slot canyon, formed by snowmelt, and rain water's erosion into the
white sandstone. (The amount of hiking is contingent upon time
limitation and physical ability of each guest.)
On the 3rd morning, you load
your canoes and paddle further into the White Cliffs. Just 1 mile downstream
you pass the subject of one of Karl Bodmer's paintings, known as the Grand Natural Wall.
This is an impressive exposure of igneous intrusion that seems to be the
ancient remnants of a manmade dam. In a short distance, you pass the
ruins of an abandoned homestead, and an earlier house made of blocks, cut
from the sandstone of the White Cliffs.
Then you may sit back and enjoy the
scenery as you
pass Eagle Rock and approach Kipps Rapids. These rapids are
maneuvered with basic skills as you approach Haystack Butte. In 2 more miles
you pass Citadel Rock (Cathedral Rock, as Karl Bodmer named it).
Just downstream from Citadel Rock,
you can stop at the Hole-In-The-Wall area for a hike to the top of the
sandstone formation from which the name comes. This is a rigorous 2-mile
round trip hike. You will encounter 2 areas along the hike, which require
some short climbing. With a little help from others, these areas aren't usually significant obstacles.
From Hole-in-the-Wall you again turn
your canoes downstream to have lunch as you float toward Steamboat Rock. The
next 7 miles reveal the scenes of visionary enchantment, described so
eloquently in the journals of Lewis and Clark. Hundreds of sandstone figures
line the rim of the river valley, evoking the imagination of all who pass
this way. Twelve miles past Hole-In-The-Wall you approach a campsite used
by the Corp of Discovery on both their inbound and outbound journeys. This
spot makes a good campsite still today.
On the 4th morning you pack your
canoes and paddle through Dead-Man rapid. This class one rapid was named by
steamboat pilots in reference to a device employed to maneuver the ships
upstream through faster running places in the river. It is easily maneuvered with
attention paid to keeping the canoe pointing downstream. During most of the
year, a paddler will barely notice that it exists.
Beyond Dead-Man Rapid, you enter the
Judith Landing Historic District. This area has been used for profit since
prehistoric times. The native Americans used this site for buffalo hunting
and camping. Earlier European settlers built trading posts and forts, to
accommodate the westward expansion during the glorious era of steamboat navigation between
St. Louis and Fort Benton, MT. Today, there are extensive farm and ranch
operations in the area, utilizing water from the Missouri for irrigation.
At Judith Landing you stop to
re-supply your coolers with ice and fresh provisions. If desired, you may rest under the shade of a cottonwood
tree and have lunch. Or you can paddle further downstream and find
a more secluded spot...
From Judith Landing you
launch your canoes around noon and head into the Breaks of the Missouri River.
The topography changes as you float into a layer of ancient sediment known as the
Judith River Formation. This layer of the earthís crust contains numerous marine-based
fossils, which are easy to find with some rigorous hiking. Around 6:00, you
stop to set up camp in a remote primitive camping spot deep inside the Missouri
On the next day you shove
off around 10:00 and head deeper into the Breaks. You pass numerous abandoned
homesteads and ranches from a by-gone era. After exploring the remains of some
of these homesteads and a leisurely lunch by the riverís edge, you paddle to your
next campsite. Along the way, it is common to get a glimpse of Big Horn Sheep,
as they graze along the banks and climb the steep cliffs that define this
The following day you spend
time floating past the area of the historic Nez Perce crossing of the Missouri
during their flight north. General Miles stopped this renegade band of brave
Native Americans just north of here, as they made their way to Canada in search
of an alliance with Sitting Bull. Their story is one of great courage and
sadness that our guides can tell along the trail. Another riverside lunch and
possible Bighorn Sheep viewing and you are
ready to setup camp for the night.
The last day is spent
paddling deeper in to the Breaks along an ever-slowing river. As you approach the
Kipp Recreation Area, the river widens and the current slows to allow for a
relaxed landing at the take-out point.
The 3-hour ride to Virgelle
is an opportunity to enjoy the scenery of the Breaks from a different
perspective. It is also a chance to relax and reflect on the experience of the
Back at Virgelle, a
friendly greeting and a hot shower await. Then its time to sit down to a
home-cooked meal in the Mercantile dining room, where friendly people serve good
food in a relaxed atmosphere. After dessert, some time on the north porch is in
order. And if the sky is just right, the stars make a beautiful curtain for
closing this episode of an unforgettable Montana vacation.
Premium Guided Package includes: All
food (8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 8 suppers, and 2
complimentary refreshment baskets in the B&B room...), all transportation,
canoes/kayaks, camping gear, friendly local guides, 2 nights accommodations at
the historic Virgelle Mercantile, and all necessary advanced planning for a
$275/person/day, unguided outfitted. Less than 3 persons...or,
$200/person/day, unguided outfitted. 4 persons or more (includes the same gear, food and river
access shuttle transportation as the guided version).
Guided Trip Reservations Deposit
deposit required to reserve space on a trip.
Balance due 30 days prior to scheduled departure date.
(If we must cancel a trip, we will refund all monies you have paid.)
Submit your request to join a trip here:
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looking for others to join the following group(s) on a shared guided adventure:
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