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BEGINS IN: FORT BENTON, MONTANA

Canoeing in the Wild and Scenic Upper Missouri River Wilderness

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Road Scholar
Program #20626RJ
8 Days | 7 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Challenging
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.

Itinerary for Jul 15 — Jul 22, 2013

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Type: Boutique Hotel

Description: The Grand Union Hotel's history began in 1882, just 36 years after Fort Benton was founded and 7 years before Montana became a state, and was built at the height of Fort Benton's prosperity and the steamboat era on the Upper Missouri River. It ran continuously for over 100 years, then remained empty for over a decade until it was elegantly restored to its original splendor in 1999.

The Grand Union Hotel provides 26 exquisitely restored rooms, many of which enjoy a view of the Missouri River and park. Guestrooms are accessed by either the original black walnut grand staircase or by elevator. The hotel has a riverside restaurant with seasonal outdoor dining, a lively brewpub and a unique gift shop. Due to its award winning restoration, the Grand Union Hotel has preserved the historical character of Montana's oldest operating hotel and one of its most famous landmarks.

Contact info:
1 Grand Union Square
Fort Benton, MT 59442 USA
phone: 888-838-1882
web: www.grandunionhotel.com

Room amenities: Each room has a deluxe private bath, direct dial phone with voice mail, auto wake-up, wireless internet, cable television, writing desk, and individually controlled heating and air conditioning.

Facility amenities: The hotel has a riverside restaurant with seasonal outdoor dining, a lively brewpub and a unique gift shop.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: contact hotel for current rate
Additional nights are available pre and post trip; contact hotel for information

Check in time: 4:00 PM


Day One: Monday, July 15 - Orientation/Missouri River Historical Presentatio...
Afternoon: Check-in and registration at the lovely historic Grand Union Hotel begin at 4:00 PM, followed by program orientation with our group leader at 4:30 PM, and with Mike and Meredith Gregston of the Missouri River Outfitters at 5:30 PM.

Our outfitters have been lauded by famed Lewis and Clark scholar, Stephen Ambrose, who even mentioned them in his work "Undaunted Courage," saying "The White Cliffs can be seen only from small boat or canoe. Put in at Fort Benton and take out three or four days later at Judith Landing. Missouri River Outfitters... rents canoes or provides a guided tour... of all the historic and/or scenic sights we have visited in the world, this is number one. We have made the trip ten times."



Dinner: A delightful welcome dinner at the Grand Union Hotel

Evening: Our guide and history professor from the University of Billings, Dr. Keith Edgerton, will orient us to our upcoming adventure with a regional and historical overview this evening.

Then relax, and get to know your fellow adventurers on the patio at the Grand Union.

Lodging: Grand Union Hotel

Meals Included: Dinner

Type: Tents

Description: Five of the nights will be spent camping alongside the river. Each tent will house two people. The tents are Springbar Outfitter 3. Each night the group will be camping at a different location. See itinerary for additional information.

Contact info:
701 7th St
Fort Benton, MT 59442 USA
phone: 999-999-9999
Room amenities: Please note that the first and last nights of the program are at the lovely Grand Union Hotel, and nights 2-6 will be camping along the Upper Missouri River. Double or single occupancy can be booked for hotel nights but camping nights are double occupancy only (in two-person tents).

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Bathroom: The outfitters carry a portable folding toilet and privacy tent. However, the camp sites we’re staying at have vaulted toilet sites maintained be the BLM. Campgrounds do not have showers. There will be opportunities to rinse off in the river.


Day Two: Tuesday, July 16 - On the River/View Native American Habitation/Geol...
On the River/View Native American Habitation/Geology Overview/Coal Banks Landing/Camp Where Lewis & Clark Camped

Breakfast: Enjoy a hearty breakfast to set us off right on our adventure!

Morning: Load vans/school bus for travel to Coal Banks Landing, the departure point, a trip of about 40 miles. History overview along the way includes stopping at the junction of the Marias and Missouri Rivers (Lewis and Clark “Decision Point”) a beautiful, scenic and strategic place where the expedition spent nearly 10 days in 1805 determining which river fork to take.

Even if you've never been in a canoe before, our expert guides will show you the ropes and you'll be comfortable by noon!

Our expert team of guides includes Professor Keith Edgerton, with a PhD in History from the University of Montana-Billings; Renee Macdonald, with an MA in teaching; Nicole Warren, educator; and Keith Edgerton, instructor.

Lunch: Lunch at Coal Banks Landing

Afternoon: After our delightful lunch, load canoes and depart on the river. We will be flowing with the current the entire journey. Along the way we will stop and view Native American habitation sites and we will have geology overview discussions at several key spots.

Dinner: Gourmet dinner provided by Meredith, one of our outfitters and former gourmet chef.

Evening: Camp at Eagle Creek in the precise spot that the expedition camped, May 31, 1805, facing the famed White Cliffs of the Missouri, and experience what Lewis called “scenes of visionary enchantment.” We’ll spend plenty of time talking, reading, journaling and reflecting around the campfire at night.

It is one of the most beautiful and enchanting spots in America enhanced considerably by the care and attention provided by the Missouri River Outfitters. One has not truly lived until they’ve been served fresh brie and chilled chardonnay while lounging in a camp chair, ankle deep in the refreshing waters of the Upper Missouri River.

Lodging: Camping

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Tents

Description: Five of the nights will be spent camping alongside the river. Each tent will house two people. The tents are Springbar Outfitter 3. Each night the group will be camping at a different location. See itinerary for additional information.

Contact info:
701 7th St
Fort Benton, MT 59442 USA
phone: 999-999-9999
Room amenities: Please note that the first and last nights of the program are at the lovely Grand Union Hotel, and nights 2-6 will be camping along the Upper Missouri River. Double or single occupancy can be booked for hotel nights but camping nights are double occupancy only (in two-person tents).

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Bathroom: The outfitters carry a portable folding toilet and privacy tent. However, the camp sites we’re staying at have vaulted toilet sites maintained be the BLM. Campgrounds do not have showers. There will be opportunities to rinse off in the river.


Day Three: Wednesday, July 17 - Eagle Creek Hike/Native American Pictographs/Wild...
Eagle Creek Hike/Native American Pictographs/Wildlife Viewing/Bald Eagle Nesting/Hole in the Wall

Breakfast: Full delightful breakfast to start our day of adventure on the river.

Morning: Spend the morning at Eagle Creek including hiking into several natural geological wonders in the small canyons above the campground. Also view fascinating Native American pictographs.

We'll do an incredible hike through a slot canyon behind our campsite of about 2.5 miles round trip....up and over several small rocks, that require us to "scramble" and help each other.

Although it's always optional, everyone wants to take this hike which runs through river bottom and into the river sandstone that abuts the river. (Even those with knee and hip replacements find no problem on this hike!)

Lunch: Lunch at Eagle Creek

Afternoon: After breaking camp, we’ll canoe downriver to Hole in the Wall geological formation where there will be abundant wildlife viewing opportunities, including numerous bald eagle nesting sights. Every day there will be water birds galore, including the majestic and ubiquitous Missouri River pelicans.

We'll hike up to the famed Hole in the Wall, a natural feature in which a window has, over eons, been carved through the sandstone. Don't forget to bring your camera!

After the hike we'll canoe through the seemingly endless white cliffs of the Upper Missouri to Slaughter River campground, a place where the Lewis and Clark expedition camped twice on its journey - once on its way to the Pacific in May of 1805 and then again on its return in July of 1806.



Dinner: Another sumptuous dinner by our chef extraordinaire

Evening: Camp at Slaughter River. There will be plenty of opportunity for swimming, reading, writing, reflecting (complete with happy hour and appetizers served by the river guides), socializing, and even singing (!). In the evening, as is the case every evening, around the campfire we’ll talk more of the regional history, the geology, and the Native American perspective of the land that surrounds us.

Lodging: Camping

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Tents

Description: Five of the nights will be spent camping alongside the river. Each tent will house two people. The tents are Springbar Outfitter 3. Each night the group will be camping at a different location. See itinerary for additional information.

Contact info:
701 7th St
Fort Benton, MT 59442 USA
phone: 999-999-9999
Room amenities: Please note that the first and last nights of the program are at the lovely Grand Union Hotel, and nights 2-6 will be camping along the Upper Missouri River. Double or single occupancy can be booked for hotel nights but camping nights are double occupancy only (in two-person tents).

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Bathroom: The outfitters carry a portable folding toilet and privacy tent. However, the camp sites we’re staying at have vaulted toilet sites maintained be the BLM. Campgrounds do not have showers. There will be opportunities to rinse off in the river.


Day Four: Thursday, July 18 - On to Judith Landing/ Camp Where Lewis & Clark Ca...
Breakfast: Another hearty breakfast of Chef Meredith's gourmet design!

Morning: Break camp and canoe to Judith Landing, named for Captain Clark's future wife, Ms. Julia Hancock. Learn about the fascinating steamboat era as we travel today.

Lunch: Lunch after a nice hike - time to delight your palate!

Afternoon: As we proceed on our journey on the lower river which is less-travelled, the scenery will begin rapidly to change to even more wild, scenic and dramatic landscapes.

Dinner: Gourmet dinner preceded by happy hour and appetizers.

Evening: History takes on a new perspective as our expert regales you with stories from the Lewis & Clark journey from the very location where they camped overnight in May of 1805.....here we camp tonight at McGarry Bar, following in their footsteps.

Plenty of time tonight for discussion and journaling, and perhaps even to watch bighorn sheep grazing along the riverbanks.

Lodging: Camping

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Tents

Description: Five of the nights will be spent camping alongside the river. Each tent will house two people. The tents are Springbar Outfitter 3. Each night the group will be camping at a different location. See itinerary for additional information.

Contact info:
701 7th St
Fort Benton, MT 59442 USA
phone: 999-999-9999
Room amenities: Please note that the first and last nights of the program are at the lovely Grand Union Hotel, and nights 2-6 will be camping along the Upper Missouri River. Double or single occupancy can be booked for hotel nights but camping nights are double occupancy only (in two-person tents).

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Bathroom: The outfitters carry a portable folding toilet and privacy tent. However, the camp sites we’re staying at have vaulted toilet sites maintained be the BLM. Campgrounds do not have showers. There will be opportunities to rinse off in the river.


Day Five: Friday, July 19 - Famed Missouri "Breaks"/ Bighorn Sheep/ Abandoned...
Famed Missouri "Breaks"/ Bighorn Sheep/ Abandoned Homestead/ Camp at Gist Bottom

Breakfast: Leisurely breakfast on the banks of the Missouri

Morning: Break camp and canoe through the famed Missouri "breaks" where the river has seemingly broken through the rough country. Spectacular scenery and numerous bighorn sheep sightings throughout the day.

Lunch: Pull out for a picnic lunch on the riverbank.

Afternoon: Back on the river, pass through a number of islands in the river and visit an old abandoned homestead or two as we continue through stunning scenery.

Dinner: What will our delightful dinner be tonight? How often do you have a gourmet chef cooking for you on a camping trip?

Evening: Camp at Gist Bottom, the site of an abandoned homestead. A delightful evening of relaxation under the stars....with time for discussion, personal reflection, conviviality, campfire songs and readings from the Lewis and Clark journals.

Lodging: Camping

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Tents

Description: Five of the nights will be spent camping alongside the river. Each tent will house two people. The tents are Springbar Outfitter 3. Each night the group will be camping at a different location. See itinerary for additional information.

Contact info:
701 7th St
Fort Benton, MT 59442 USA
phone: 999-999-9999
Room amenities: Please note that the first and last nights of the program are at the lovely Grand Union Hotel, and nights 2-6 will be camping along the Upper Missouri River. Double or single occupancy can be booked for hotel nights but camping nights are double occupancy only (in two-person tents).

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Bathroom: The outfitters carry a portable folding toilet and privacy tent. However, the camp sites we’re staying at have vaulted toilet sites maintained be the BLM. Campgrounds do not have showers. There will be opportunities to rinse off in the river.


Day Six: Saturday, July 20 - Hike in the steps of William Clark/ Canoe past Ch...
Hike in the steps of William Clark/ Canoe past Chief Joseph History/ Camp where Meriwether Lewis camped

Breakfast: Another great breakfast to get us off right this morning.

Morning: Hike up to a point above the river where William Clark first beheld what he thought were the Rocky Mountains in 1805. Stunning views of the river and the surrounding prairie lands. We'll also see a "diatreme" - volcanic formations where most of the world's diamonds are found.

Lunch: Lunch at Gist Bottom

Afternoon: Continue on the river, canoeing past Cow Island where the famed Chief Joseph and his band of Nez Perce crossed the Missouri in 1877 while attempting to flee to Canada from the U.S. Army.

Dinner: Fine wine and another gourmet meal await us tonight!

Evening: Camp at Woodhawk Campground where Lewis camped on his return in 1806. Hike to a restored homestead. As always, the campfire will be stoked and stories will abound on our last night on the river.

Lodging: Camping

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Boutique Hotel

Description: The Grand Union Hotel's history began in 1882, just 36 years after Fort Benton was founded and 7 years before Montana became a state, and was built at the height of Fort Benton's prosperity and the steamboat era on the Upper Missouri River. It ran continuously for over 100 years, then remained empty for over a decade until it was elegantly restored to its original splendor in 1999.

The Grand Union Hotel provides 26 exquisitely restored rooms, many of which enjoy a view of the Missouri River and park. Guestrooms are accessed by either the original black walnut grand staircase or by elevator. The hotel has a riverside restaurant with seasonal outdoor dining, a lively brewpub and a unique gift shop. Due to its award winning restoration, the Grand Union Hotel has preserved the historical character of Montana's oldest operating hotel and one of its most famous landmarks.

Contact info:
1 Grand Union Square
Fort Benton, MT 59442 USA
phone: 888-838-1882
web: www.grandunionhotel.com

Room amenities: Each room has a deluxe private bath, direct dial phone with voice mail, auto wake-up, wireless internet, cable television, writing desk, and individually controlled heating and air conditioning.

Facility amenities: The hotel has a riverside restaurant with seasonal outdoor dining, a lively brewpub and a unique gift shop.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: contact hotel for current rate
Additional nights are available pre and post trip; contact hotel for information

Check in time: 4:00 PM


Day Seven: Sunday, July 21 - Canoe through Charles M. Russell National Wildlif...
Canoe through Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge/ Kipp Campground/ Geological Wonders/ Return to Grand Union

Breakfast: At our campsite

Morning: Break camp and canoe through the last portion of the National Monument, having traveled, all told during our journey, 107 miles. Pass through a portion of the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge before we pull out at the Kipp Campground, ending the river portion of our journey.

Lunch: Picnic lunch at Kipp State Park

Afternoon: Load gear on shuttles/bus (air-conditioned) and then travel back to Fort Benton through scenic prairie lands. Numerous geological features line our return trip, including Square and Round Buttes, two volcanic formations that dominate the local landscape. Our educators will paint a historical picture of this beautiful country and its lore as we travel.

Check in at the Grand Union and grab a nice shower before dinner. The outfitters will deliver non-river luggage to you. Refreshments will precede our dinner on the patio next to the Missouri River.



Dinner: Delightful dinner at the Grand Union Hotel, a perfect end to our great Upper Missouri River adventure!

Evening: Celebrate your historical adventure with your new friends. Relax and recall the highlights most memorable to you.

Lodging: Grand Union Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day Eight: Monday, July 22 - Farewells/ Shuttle Back to Great Falls
Breakfast: Sumptuous breakfast at the historic Grand Union.

Morning: Independent departures after the program ends but most participants find it most convenient to book with the Missouri River Outfitters to take their shuttle service back to the Great Falls airport ($25 per person).

Plan your airline departure time after 1:00 PM, as shuttles will depart Fort Benton about 9:00 AM. You'll arrive at the airport with ample time to go through the security check.

Meals Included: Breakfast



Free Time Opportunities


Fort Benton, Montana
Fort Benton Chamber of CommerceVisit the Fort Benton Chamber of Commerce for information on the town history and things to do and see.
For additional information, visit: www.fortbentonchamber.org/pages/info.html

Important information about your itinerary:
Please know that while we do everything we can to finalize all aspects of our programs well in advance, there are logistics that occasionally must be altered. Our website will reflect the most recent information, and we are committed to providing you with final program details no later than eight weeks prior to the start of programs outside the U.S. and three weeks prior to the start of programs within the U.S. If you ever have questions about your program, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
7 nights of accommodations
20 meals: 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners
13 Expert-led lectures
6 Field trips
11 Hands-on experiences

Ratings

4.9
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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