Through which countries does the Missouri River flow?

Tourist Attractions

By Felicity Long

Missouri River Overview

The Missouri River is the longest river in North America, stretching 2,341 miles from its headwaters in Montana to its convergence with the Mississippi River in Missouri. It is also known as the "Mighty Missouri" due to its massive size and historical significance. The Missouri River has played a crucial role in American history and the development of the western United States, serving as a transportation route for trade, exploration, and the movement of people.

The Missouri River Basin

The Missouri River basin covers over 529,000 square miles, spanning 10 states in the western and midwestern regions of the United States. The basin includes the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, and vast stretches of farmland. The Missouri River and its tributaries provide water for irrigation, hydroelectric power, and recreation, as well as supporting diverse ecosystems and wildlife.

The Headwaters: Montana

The Missouri River begins in southwestern Montana, where three small creeks merge to form the Jefferson River. The Jefferson River then joins with the Madison River and Gallatin River to become the Missouri River. The river flows through rugged canyons and high mountain valleys, providing important habitat for a variety of wildlife, including grizzly bears, elk, and bighorn sheep.

Montana to North Dakota

As the Missouri River flows eastward through Montana, it passes through the Fort Peck Reservoir, one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States. The river then enters North Dakota, where it continues through the Lake Sakakawea Reservoir and the Missouri River breaks, a scenic area of rugged badlands and steep bluffs.

North Dakota to South Dakota

The Missouri River flows through the heart of North Dakota and South Dakota, providing important water resources for agriculture and industry. The river passes through the capital cities of both states, Bismarck and Pierre, and provides opportunities for recreation, such as fishing, boating, and camping.

South Dakota to Iowa

As the Missouri River flows into South Dakota, it passes through the iconic landmark of the Missouri River valley, the Oahe Dam. The river then enters Iowa, where it winds through the Loess Hills and provides water for agriculture and industry.

Iowa to Nebraska

The Missouri River continues its journey through the midwestern states of Iowa and Nebraska, providing water for irrigation and hydroelectric power. The river also passes through urban areas, such as Omaha and Council Bluffs, and provides opportunities for recreation, such as hiking and birdwatching.

The Missouri River in Kansas

The Missouri River briefly flows through the northeastern corner of Kansas before entering Missouri. The river provides important habitat for migratory birds and fish, as well as supporting agriculture and industry.

Missouri River in Missouri

The Missouri River flows through the heart of Missouri, providing water for agriculture, industry, and recreation. The river passes through the cities of St. Joseph, Kansas City, and Jefferson City, and provides opportunities for fishing, boating, and camping.

Missouri to Mississippi River

The Missouri River meets the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis, Missouri, where the two rivers converge to form the third-largest river system in the world. The Missouri River carries a massive amount of sediment and nutrients downstream, which helps to sustain the Mississippi River delta and the Gulf of Mexico.

Missouri River Tributaries

The Missouri River is fed by numerous tributaries, including the Yellowstone River, the Platte River, and the Kansas River. These tributaries provide important water resources and support diverse ecosystems and wildlife.

Conclusion: Importance of the Missouri River

The Missouri River is a vital resource for the western and midwestern regions of the United States, providing water for agriculture, industry, and recreation. The river and its tributaries support diverse ecosystems and provide important habitat for wildlife. The Missouri River has played a crucial role in American history and the development of the western United States, and it continues to be an important part of the region’s economy and culture.

Photo of author

Felicity Long

Felicity Long, a seasoned travel journalist with 15+ years of experience, specializes in exploring Europe, family travel, and skiing, as evident in her book "Great Escapes: New England" (The Countryman Press). She edits the Europe eNewsletter and contributes significantly to TravelAsker's destinations sections. Felicity has received esteemed awards, including the Cacique and Yo Leonardo Awards, in recognition of her outstanding international travel writing accomplishments.

Leave a Comment