The Missouri and Yellowstone Route

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The Missouri and Yellowstone Route

Northeast Montana

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Twenty miles to the northeast of present-day Sidney on April 27, 1805, Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery first entered Montana. A couple of days earlier, they camped at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers just across what is now the border. Their journals tell the story of abundant wildlife in the area:

“we saw great quantities of game today; consisting of the common and mule deer, Elk, Buffaloe, and Antelopes; also 4 brown bear, one of which was fired on and wounded by one of the party, but we did not get it; the beaver have out great quantities of timber; saw a tree nearly 3 feet in diameter that had been felled by them.” The next day, they encountered their first grizzly bear… “I walked on shore with one man about 8 A.M. we fell in with two brown or yellow bear.”

Almost a year and a half later on August 16, 1806, they met each other on their return trip. Previously, the two captains had agreed to split up on the western side of Montana. Lewis took the northern route retracing their steps west, and Clark took a southern route primarily following the Yellowstone River.

Sidney is your hub for several short tours. Before leaving Sidney, be sure and visit the MonDak Heritage Center.

For a great view of the Yellowstone Breaks and Badlands, follow Highway 16 three miles south to Route 23. Go left and drive another three miles until you reach Highway 261. Turn right heading south. This road is known locally as “The Lost Highway.” Drive about 17 miles and go right on Road 106 to the river. This is a very scenic route, but you are crossing private land, so stay on the road.

Another day trip out of Sidney takes you west on Highway 200 to Lambert and Fox Lake Wildlife Management Area. When you leave Lambert, work your way back on the back roads toward Crane on Highway 16 just south of Sidney.

If you head north out of Sidney on Highway 200 you will reach Fairview in about 12 miles. This town has the distinction of being in two states. Ask the locals how to get to the Snowden Bridge. Just about anybody there will tell you its story. From Fairview, head north on Highway 58 to Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site.

You can take a 95-mile loop out of Sidney to explore the varied river breaks, the Missouri River, and badlands scenery. Leave Sidney on Highway 16 northwest to Culbertson. At Culbertson, go right on Highway 2 to Bainville. Explore Bainville for a bit before heading south on the Bainville-Snowden road.

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