Canoeing the Montana Missouri

4:24 p.m. on January 27, 2012 (EST)
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295 forum posts

My friend and I have been batting the idea of doing an untamed stretch of the Missouri in MT...and was looking for guide books, anecdotal info, etc to see if that is something that we had the experience, energy, and wherewithal to tackle.

Would love any input!

12:37 p.m. on January 28, 2012 (EST)
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1,378 forum posts

I have not paddled the Missouri, but I have friends who have, most recently, Jason Schoonover, a member of the Explorers Club. Jason has done the W & S Missouri several times, including a trip this last summer that I just saw a bunch of slides from.

It is  not a difficult river from the aspect of rapids, but you should be comfortable on moving water. As well, you should be competent flatwater paddlers. What this latter means, is that you should know how to load the bow for wind trim and large waves, know how to quarter to keep water out of the boat. Of course, you should know your strokes such as draw, pry, sweep, and J (the right J where the thumb is downward). A pitch or Canadian stroke are very, very helpful if using straight shafts. Wind can be an issue, as there are stretches that are very lake-like. Depending on time of year, mosquitos can be a hassle, so a bug tent would be helpful in mosquito season.

Another friend did it in a low water year, and he came back with tales of a hundred yard slog through knee deep mud to reach the shore and a campsite. Heat can be an issue in high summer, and there are not many trees.

On the plus side, it is a river(or river section) that is little changed from the time Lewis and Clark traversed it. There are distinct geologic features that one can visit while reading their accounts of the same features(Hole in the Wall).

As with all canoeing, minimum of three boats is suggested for safety. You should be confident in your paddle strokes and rescue techniques.

As I see you are in the Seattle/Tacoma area, if you would like some pointers on tripping or some wilderness paddling instruction, feel free to contact me. I frequently teach flatwater and whitewater canoeing, often with an emphasis on wilderness tripping.

April 21, 2018
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