Into the Unknown: Missouri River Country
Updated: Sep 27
This post is sponsored by Missouri River Country
As a Montana native, born and raised in Stillwater County, I must sadly confess that the northeast region of big sky country was foreign to me... until recently!
Family photo: where the Missouri meets the Milk River
With a full itinerary of NE Montana hotspots, we loaded up the family motorhome with our sights set on this unknown territory. Always up for an adventure, we were bursting at our seams with excitement for the mysteries to soon be made known. With our hidden treasure map in hand, we headed east to Sidney, where our journey began. From there, our loop of the land would take us to Fort Peck, Glasgow, Saco and Malta, before heading south to our hometown of Billings. Here’s what we now know about this mysterious northeast corner of Montana, otherwise known as, Missouri River Country…
One thing we love and appreciate about our great state is the vast variety in landscape. While the western half towers with mountain majesty, the eastern part offers a much more widespread view, allowing the eye to wander as far as it is physically able. I have found a particular peacefulness in the plains, a restfulness in the rolling hills and a simpleness in the starry nights. Looking out to the unending grasslands, you can’t help but contemplate life’s calling, or reflect upon the events that have led you to this moment in time. The openness to Montana’s northeast region allows for a person to clear their mind, free from distraction, to see things in a whole new light, with a fresh perspective. Eastern Montana has a way of causing a person to soul search, as its scenery almost has an innocent purity to it. This is what draws an individual back for more, as the separation from reality that we all so often need and crave.
Slideshow images from Fort Peck Lake & Dam, Milk River Observation Point
Along the way, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of museums and visitor centers. Northeast Montana is rich in history, dating back to the Mesozoic Era (The ‘Age of Dinosaurs’). We were presented with plenty of opportunities to obtain and grow in knowledge. There is always some uncertainty, however, to how our small children will handle a museum tour, but our boys loved having a hands-on approach to the wealth of information we were exposed to. They asked questions, stared in awe at certain exhibits and happily pretended to be an archeologist, brushing dirt from the “dinosaur bones” at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta. We were intrigued by the history, and inspired by those that so passionately spoke of it. It was obvious to us that the locals take pride in their region and pour their hearts into its preservation.
Collage images featuring MonDak Heritage Center (Sidney), Sidney Courthouse, Fort Peck Interpretive Center, Great Plains Dinosaur Museum (Malta)
The Eats & Drinks
When we travel, we love trying new things, especially when it comes to food! There is such a story to be in told in a plated meal. It can represent so much of the area you are visiting. Equally as much, we enjoy hitting up a local brewery, sampling its take on an American classic, an ice-cold beer! Northeast Montana did not disappoint when it came to meal time. The food and drink items we had were all fresh, locally grown and made to perfection. Some highlights were the microbrews at Meadowlark Brewery in Sidney, the prime rib and country fried chicken at The Gateway in Fort Peck, the made-in-house pizza crusts of Eugene’s in Glasgow and the classic cowboy breakfast at the Hitchin’ Post in Malta. We would give each of these places a five-star rating!
Slideshow images of Meadowlark Brewery (Sidney), The Gateway (Fort Peck), Eugene's Pizza (Glasgow), Dairy Queen (Malta)
Recreating in the great state of Montana is an honor and a privilege. As the Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged more people to get outside as a way of socially distancing themselves, it's crucial to discuss the importance of responsible recreation. Staying safe while in the outdoors means:
Planning ahead - know before you go
Recreate close to home
Practice physical distancing
Play it safe - follow state and federal guidelines
Leave no trace - pack it in, pack it out
Build an inclusive outdoors - be kind, encourage others
If we all commit to following these basic guidelines, we will essentially build a community of outdoor enthusiasts that love, respect, cherish and work together in protecting mother nature. #responsiblerecreation
Fort Peck Lake and dam was easily a highlight for our family. As our boating guide, Roger, told us, Fort Peck Lake has more shoreline than the entire state of California! Say what?! It stretches out as far as the eye can see and is so uniquely beautiful to any other lake we have ever been to. If walleye fishing and/or water sports are your thing, this is the place for you!
Fort Peck Lake with Captain Roger
Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs
The soaking sensation of Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs had us in a serious state of relaxation. A beautifully maintained facility, a dip in one of the three pools is just what the doctor ordered! As the only hot spring along Montana’s northern tier, this hidden gem is ideal for those looking to leave behind the busyness of life for a rejuvenating plunge.
Some R&R at Sleeping Buffalo
Slippery Ann Elk and Wildlife Viewing Area
Slippery Ann Viewing Area of the Charles M. Russell wildlife refuge is an incredible opportunity to observe the gathering of an elk herd. These elegantly strong creatures are fascinating to watch, as they slowly maneuver their way from the banks of the Missouri River to the shaded bed of grass, waiting out the sun’s heat. As dusk approaches, the elk begin to stir. Listen for the high-pitched bugle of the bull elk. It is slightly terrifying and yet, completely captivating. The scenery here is surreal, the air is fresh and the wildlife abounds. This is a must-stop for a true Montana moment.
Scenery from Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge
Montana’s Missouri River Country is beautiful, in more ways than one. The people are friendly, the space is plentiful, the sights are spectacular, the culture creates curiosity and the general lifestyle is the kind we all long for. A getaway on the Hi-Line is overflowing with golden prairies, sweeping fields of wheat, large herds of cattle, wildlife wonder and big sky beauty – the Montana escape we all dream about.
A huge thank you to Missouri River Country for hosting us! We were blown away by the hospitality of the region and hope to soon return!