Which states in the US does the Missouri River touch?

Tourist Attractions

By Kristy Tolley

The Mighty Missouri River

The Missouri River is often referred to as the "Big Muddy" due to its distinct haziness caused by the sediment it carries along its path. It is the longest river in North America, stretching over 2,300 miles from its source in Montana to its confluence with the Mississippi River in Missouri. It is a crucial waterway for transportation, agriculture, and recreation, as well as a significant part of the history and culture of the United States.

From Montana to North Dakota

The Missouri River’s journey begins in southwestern Montana, where it is fed by tributaries such as the Gallatin, Jefferson, and Madison Rivers. It then flows through the state of North Dakota, where it feeds Lake Sakakawea, a popular destination for fishing and water sports. The Missouri River also runs through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, home to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

South Dakota: Home of the Missouri’s Headwaters

The Missouri River’s headwaters are located in the western part of South Dakota, where it is fed by three streams – the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison. The Missouri River then flows through South Dakota, passing by landmarks such as the Black Hills and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The river is also significant to the Lakota people, who consider it a sacred site and have a long history of living along its banks.

The River Runs Through Nebraska

The Missouri River forms the boundary between South Dakota and Nebraska before continuing its journey entirely within Nebraska’s borders. The river passes through the city of Omaha, a major hub for transportation and commerce. The Missouri River is also a crucial source of irrigation for agriculture in Nebraska.

A Brief Stop in Iowa

The Missouri River briefly touches the state of Iowa, where it forms the boundary between Iowa and Nebraska. The town of Council Bluffs, Iowa, is situated on the river’s eastern banks, and the town of Omaha, Nebraska, is on the river’s western banks. The Missouri River then continues south, forming the boundary between Missouri and Kansas.

Missouri: The State Named After the River

The Missouri River is significant to the state that bears its name, as it flows through the state’s central and eastern regions. The river is a crucial transportation route, and the Port of Kansas City is one of Missouri’s busiest ports. The Missouri River also has a rich cultural history in the state, with significant landmarks such as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

Kansas: Where the Missouri River Meets the Kansas River

The Missouri River meets the Kansas River in Kansas City, forming the boundary between Kansas and Missouri. The confluence of the two rivers creates a significant commercial center, with the Port of Kansas City being a crucial transportation hub. The Missouri River also provides recreational opportunities in Kansas, with many parks and trails situated along its banks.

River State: Oklahoma

The Missouri River briefly touches the northeastern corner of Oklahoma before continuing south. The river is significant to the state’s history, with many Native American tribes having lived along its banks. The Missouri River also provides water for irrigation and recreation in Oklahoma.

The Missouri’s Final Touch in Arkansas

The Missouri River forms the boundary between Missouri and Arkansas before finally touching the state’s eastern corner. The river’s path through Arkansas is relatively short, but it is significant to the state’s economy, with the Port of Little Rock situated on the Arkansas River, a tributary of the Mississippi River.

Louisiana: Where the Missouri Joins the Mississippi

The Missouri River joins the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri, before continuing south through the state of Louisiana and eventually emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River is a vital waterway for transportation, and the confluence of the two rivers forms one of the largest river systems in the world.

Conclusion: The Importance of the Missouri River

The Missouri River is a significant waterway that touches ten U.S. states, providing water for irrigation, transportation, recreation, and cultural significance. The river has played a crucial role in the history and development of the United States and continues to be an essential part of the country’s economy and culture.

Additional Resources for Exploring the Missouri River

  • National Park Service Missouri National Recreational River
  • Missouri River Relief
  • Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
  • Missouri River Country Tourism Council
Photo of author

Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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