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Three and Four Day Keelboat River Trip Itinerary
(Note: the four day trip spends one night at Hole in the Wall Campsite)


Afford yourself a unique river trip experience at a leisurely pace. Your seasoned guide(s) creates an atmosphere reminiscent of an earlier time when fur trappers, woodhawks, and brave explorers traversed this ancient Native American pathway into a vast new wilderness of American pioneer settlement.

Mike Nottingham hails from a long line of Montana residents, starting with his great-grandfather who operated a trading post and wood yard at the mouth of Arrow Creek in the 1870�s. Later, Hildia Nottingham was attacked by Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce, as he hauled freight by bull train along the road from Cow Island Landing to Fort Benton... As you explore the Upper Missouri River on your personal downstream journey, let your imagination wander to a time when woodhawks peddled fuel for the steamboats, and buffalo herds frequently hindered commercial navigation on this longest river system in the world.

1 day tours from historic Fort Benton to the mouth of the Marias River.
3-4 day tours from Virgille to the Judith River.

Your trip begins at Coal Banks Landing, just 42 miles downstream from Fort Benton, Montana. After a pleasant night's stay in the Virgelle Mercantile Bed and Breakfast, we take you to meet your ship's captain with the craft at the launch site. He'll offer a complete orientation of the watercraft, river safety, any weather concerns, and briefly describe the territory into which you will travel. At this point we begin the journey into a most enchanting terrain...

On the first day we stop for lunch near an ancient tipi encampment site. It is interesting to see the old rings of stones used to anchor the shelters' buffalo hide covers to the ground. These are old rings of stones that date back over 200 years.

Beyond this site, we enter an area of river corridor known famously for the white sandstone cliffs that line the riverbanks and rims. As we approach the area of our first campsite, we pass the remnants of a stone house built by an early European stonemason named John Monro. This character went on to make his living selling horses that roamed freely in the lush regions of the breaks...

As evening approaches, we settle into our camp at the mouth of Eagle Creek and enjoy a hearty supper by a warm campfire.

The second day greets us with a fresh breakfast and a leisurely hike. This area is rich with geological intrigue, Native American recordings, and early European American history. We'll shove off around 10 a.m. for our next campsite near the mouth of Arrow Creek, near Hildia Nottingham's old wood yard site. Along the way, we stop for lunch near the trailhead of another interesting hike to a natural arch in the white cliffs known as Hole in the Wall.

Further along, we pass through miles of sandstone outcroppings, lending the imagination an opportunity to process the fantastic imagery of the natural formations created by the wind and rain of centuries past. In between passing the Seven Sisters, Sacagawea, and Steamboat Rock, you'll see sandstone formations that only you can interpret.

The next campsite approaches just past the mouth of present day Arrow Creek. The captain of the boat will lend a wealth of historic knowledge of this area, as his great grandfather sold wood from this bank to passing steamboats of over a hundred years ago. Relax with excellent Dutch oven cuisine for supper in a spacious campsite, nestled in a mature riparian area with little intrusion from modern industrial activity. On the last day, enjoy another fresh breakfast by the river, as we prepare the craft for the remainder of the trip to Judith Landing. Along the way, we pass though Dead Man's Rapids, and the mouth of the Judith River, as we enter the famous Missouri River Breaks. As we approach the Judith Landing, you get a glimpse of the geologic feature known as the Judith River Formation, which has given way to the forces of erosion to open the landscape to an entirely different appearance...

At the landing your shuttle awaits your arrival and transport back to the Virgelle Mercantile. The overland journey from the Judith Landing is another opportunity to experience the big landscape under the Big Sky of east central Montana and the Missouri River Breaks area.

Upper Missouri River Keelboat Company
P.O. Box 201
Loma, MT 59460