The Missouri National Recreational River preserves a 100-mile stretch of the waterway once traveled by American Indians, traders, settlers, and explorers, including Lewis and Clark.
Flowing roughly parallel to the border between South Dakota and Nebraska, you can easily imagine the river as it looked during the westward migration. Listen carefully and you can hear the echoes of steamboat whistles and the splash of oars.
Don’t be deceived by the gentle current, though. Riddled with sandbars and unexpected turns, the Missouri was once a treacherous and unpredictable course. Beneath its surface lie the rusting remains of more than 200 sunken vessels.
The towns that line the river’s edge trace their origins to the 1858 Treaty with the Yankton Sioux and the Homestead Act of 1862. Eighty years later, flood control efforts would give rise to Pickstown and the dams at Gavins Point.
Experience the Missouri National Recreational River from a canoe, kayak, or boat. Fish, birdwatch, or just bask in the sun. Hike the trails at Ponca State Park, or see the fossilized remains of prehistoric animals at Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park.
History buffs can learn more about life along the river’s edge at the Dakota Territorial Museum and the W.H. Over Museum. There’s always something do down by the river.