What States Does The Missouri River Run Through?

The Missouri River runs through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. 

But there is so much more to learn about the Missouri River!

There are more than 250,000 rivers that run through the USA today, stretching for a distance of more than 3,500,000 miles. These rivers provide drinking water, irrigation water, electric power, means of transportation, a source of food, and a spot for recreational activities. 

One of the most famous of these is the Missouri River, and this post will not only tell you which states it runs through, but also some cool facts about this famous river. 

What State Does the Missouri River Run Through?

The Missouri River runs through a total of seven US states:

  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Missouri. 
Map of USA showing the states that run through the Missouri River
Map created with mapchart.net

How Long is the Missouri River?

The Missouri River is the longest river in the USA, measuring 2341 miles. It starts in the Rocky Mountains in Southwestern Montana then stretches to the east and south until it joins the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. Together, these two rivers make up the fourth-largest river system in the world. 

Where is the True Source of the Missouri River?

The river’s source is usually the uppermost spring in the furthest tributary. In this case, the Brower’s Spring in the Hell Roaring Creek of Southwestern Montana would be the true source of the Missouri River. 

How Deep is the Missouri River?

The Missouri River is usually between 10 and 20 feet deep

How Did the Missouri River Affect Life in the Past?

The archeological evidence shows that people inhabited the watershed of the Missouri River as early as 12,000 years ago. As people moved from Asia to North America through the Bering land bridge, the Missouri River represented a migratory path that helped them settle around the Great Plains, where they could build their first societies. 

Many cultures thrived around the Missouri River, where people had access to food, water, and transportation. It helped tribes define their territorial boundaries and allowed them to engage in trade. 

When the French and British explorers came to the USA, the Missouri River was considered the main route for the fur traders. Later on, the Native Tribes were introduced to horses that allowed them to explore different parts of the river and travel for longer distances. 

What Fun Activities Can You Do At the Missouri River?

View of fisherman in Missouri River during a sunny day

The Missouri River represents an attractive spot for all recreational activities. People can enjoy a lot of fun activities like canoeing, kayaking, camping, birding, hiking, biking, hunting, and fishing. 

Can You Go Boating In the Missouri River?

At some points, the river can flow very fast, up to 7 miles per hour, so only experienced boaters should attempt to explore it. You should also be aware of the obstacles and snags that you might encounter and make sure that every person on board has a life jacket. 

Can You Go Swimming in The Missouri River?

Swimming is possible in parts of the Missouri River, but should only be done with great caution. Swimmers in the Missouri River will face a lot of hazards like tricky currents and submerged rocks. If you choose to swim in the river, never swim alone, and be sure to research the specific part of the Missouri River you are contemplating swimming in. You should also wear a personal floatation device, even if you’re an experienced swimmer. 

Fun Facts About the Missouri River

  • The Missouri River has the nickname Big Muddy. This refers to a large amount of sediment being pushed through the river system. This amount of dirt makes the river look brown for much of its length. 
  • The Missouri River is the world’s 15 longest river. 
  • There are about 150 fish species that live in the Missouri River. Anglers might encounter some prehistoric-looking paddlefish or an endangered species like pallid sturgeon. You can also catch fish like rainbow trout, black and white crappie, Chinook salmon, walleye, large and smallmouth bass, northern pike, and gar. 
  • The spring is the best season for fishing along the Missouri River. 
  • Many boaters encounter Asian carp that jump onto their boats while they’re navigating the Missouri River. These fish were brought into the rice fields in Kansas to help clean them but escaped in the 1993 Great Flood and have now caused a critical infestation in the Missouri River. It’s illegal to keep an alive Asian carp, and you should contact the authorities if you catch one. 
  • There are about 300 bird species that live around the Missouri River region, which makes it an interesting spot for birding. 

FAQs About the Missouri River

Where Did the Missouri River Get its Name?

There are several theories behind the meaning of the name. Some researchers think that the name means muddy water, referring to the water’s river, which is almost muddy and full of dirt along most of its length. 

However, some historians believe that the name refers to a tribe that lived around the banks of the river, and the name specifically means “people with wooden canoes” or “the town of large canoes.”

What Was the Missouri River Called By the Natives?

The native tribes that lived around the Missouri River gave it several names. The Hidatsa tribe called it Awti, the Navigable Stream Full of Dirt. The Omaha tribe called it Smoky River, and the Crows called it the Big River. 

When Was the Missouri River Discovered?

French explorers discovered the Missouri River in 1673 when Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette passed through it to discover the Mississippi River. The French later built the first post built by white men in the Missouri River on an island located opposite the Missouri people’s village. 

❓ Trivia Time: What States Does The Mississippi River Run Through?