Upper Missouri River Breaks
Upper Missouri River Breaks
Credit: BLM

Bureau of Land ManagementUpper Missouri River Breaks NM Interpretive Center

Member Since: 10/14/2004

Primary Contact: Derrick Baldwin
Other Contact: Connie Jacobs

701 7th Street
P.O. Box 1389
Fort Benton, MT 59442

This center and surrounding area is three acres in size. However, the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument encompasses 377,346 acres and includes 149 miles of the Wild and Scenic of the Upper Missouri River.

Partner Information: Fort Benton Schools and the River and Plains Society.

Site Tour | Site Link


The Upper Missour River Breaks National Monument provides place-based learning opporutnities for students of all grade levels. Activities include hands-on field experiences linked to classroom curriculum in the areas of history, geology, biology, and other integrated subjects.This educational project is a new effort to support the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument Interpretive Center, which opened in fall of 2006. By using the UMRBNM, these learning opportunities and experiences increase students' understanding of how their lives are connected with the natural world and bring classroom learning to life.

The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument (UMRBNM) covers about 375,000 acres of BLM-administered public land in central Montana. These lands hold a spectacular array of plant life, wildlife, unique geological features, endless recreational opportunities and significant historical and cultural values. The rugged landscape has retained much of its unspoiled character over the centuries and, as a result, offers outstanding opportunities for solitude and dispersed recreation. In some areas, the BLM lands are intermingled with State of Montana lands and private property. The monument designation applies only to the BLM-managed lands. Landowner permission is required prior to using private property for any activity. A permit is required for recreational use of state lands.

I. Earth Cache Trail on the Upper Missouri - participants discover special Earth Cache sites on the Upper Missouri River Breaks.  Some of the caches are accessible only by canoe from the river.

EarthCaching is similar to geocaching. Both use Global Positioning systems.  While geocachers use their GPS units to find locations with actual hidden items, an EarthCache adventure is a treasure hunt where the partcipant finds a unique geologic feature in a particular place.  EarthCache sites do not use stored containers, but rather participants find 'treasures' with the lessons people learn about the earth.

II. Webquest/Podcast  - Students use a webquest, inquiry research process to learn about the monument, then create a two minute recorded podcast that is shared with students in other states and monuments.

III.Interpretive Center Learning Opportunities:

The Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center interprets the tremendous natural and cultural history of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument and the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River.  The center has many wonderful hands-on displays and many school programs that include thought provoking activities for students.

Elementary Science Programs (K - 5):

    "A Tree; The Inside Story" - students create and take home their own tree suit while learning all the requirements needed to live life as a tree
    "Jell-O Geology" - teaches younger grades about the basic geologic principles such as layers, erosion, and discovering fossils

Secondary Science:

  • "It's All in Your Head" - focus is on mammals found with the Monument and Montana; compares anatomy and specialization among mammals
  • "Investigating Our Watery World" - students examine macroinvertebrates that live in the local river's area

Earth Science (Gr. 6 - 7);

"Reading the Shape of the Monument" - students learn the basics of topographic maps and map skills.

Cultural Heritage:

    "Must Cultures Collide?" - an in-depth look at the Nez Perce War of 1877 (Grades 6 - 8)
    "Which Way Did They Go?" - students study different map styles throughout history and develop their own maps looking for hidden treasure (Gr.4 - 7)
    "Bullwhacker Freight Company" - focus on historical transportation methods of steam boats and freights.  Students assemble wagon payloads and determine weight capapcity while considering the demands of frontier towns and gold camps. (Gr. 4 - 6)

Varied Curriculum: animals and their tracks; bird adaptations; waterfowl migration; symbiotic relationships; cultural heritage tribal stories and the tale of Miss Mae Flannagan's terrifying trip aboard the steamboat Eclipse.

Content Standards - Montana Common Core


Watershed - river ecology, monitoring

Cultural Heritage -  Native Americans, frontier life/homesteading, and steam boating history 


** Tags are significant words connected with this site's program and linkable with other HOL sites.
Clean URL: http://www.handsontheland.org/profile/upper-missouri-river-breaks-nm-interpretive-center

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Last Updated: 06/02/2017

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