Exploring the Missouri River Corridor

The Missouri River corridor has much to offer for any outdoor enthusiast, but many of these opportunities or destinations are underutilized or unknown by those who do not partake in fishing or wing-shooting activities. There are miles of trails along the Missouri River used by fishermen or wing-shooters to access fishing or hunting locations. These trails present beautiful hiking opportunities  for a scenic and relaxing walk along the rivers edge. Currently during the month of March other wonders of nature present exceptional outdoor opportunities as well. Above the water’s surface, migratory waterfowl in large numbers can be seen on the river. Below the surface, the ever so infamous Missouri River Rainbow Tout can be seen, since they are moving into shallow water to engage in the act of spawning.

On March 23, the Helena Outdoor Explorers made the 30 minute drive to Hauser Dam, located 18 miles north-east of Helena, to enjoy the scenic views of the river and see the migratory waterfowl and fishes. Hauser Dam (PPL MT) and the State of Montana allow for public access below the dam on both sides of the river. This means that the Outdoor Explorers could not only enjoy a hike along the river but also walk across the dam!

The Top of Hauser Dam

The Top of Hauser Dam

Enjoying the wonders of the dam.

Enjoying the wonders of the dam

Before the Outdoor Explorers even made it across the dam there was immense fascination with the dam, its construction, its purpose and its sheer might. The Outdoor Explorers spent a surprisingly good chunk of time on the fenced in pathway a top the dam. Here we learned a bit about the dam, its height, when it was constructed and what the purpose of it is. The Outdoor Explorers (littles) were very quick to understand how a dam works to create hydroelectricity and were excited to see it first hand.

The Power House (where electricity comes from)

The Power House (where electricity comes from)!!

Outdoor Explorers!!!

Outdoor Explorers! (atop hauser dam)

Once across the dam the Outdoor Explorers began their walk near the river. With a constant game of trivia the Outdoor Explorers were engaged to answer questions to the best of their knowledge on the topic of Lewis and Clark’s expedition and their travels on the Missouri River. The Outdoor Explorers also identified Prickly Pear Cacti and the distinguishable smell of  sage.  Enjoying the entirety of what the river’s edge had to offer. Including looking at the geological composition of different river rocks as well as (from a distance) the surrounding cliff faces.

Reading an interpretive sign on migratory waterfowl and fish

Reading an interpretive sign on migratory waterfowl and fish

What a view!

What a view!

Further down the trail the Outdoor Explorers, from an elevated vantage point, were able to see many rainbow tout spawning in the river! There were also fly fishermen (and fisher-ladies) on the water doing their best to catch a fish, which was enjoyable to watch since the Outdoor Explorers in Helena will be participating in fly fishing activities the next two months!! The Outdoor Explorers (in a game of trivia) learned about and were able to identify the different fish species that live in the Missouri River. Along with this and the opportunity to see spawning trout the Outdoor Explorers gained a better understanding for the necessary spawning habitats for trout and the river’s ecosystem.

Where the rainbow trout were spawning! (can't see them in the photo, sorry)

Where the rainbow trout were spawning!                               (can’t see them in the photo, sorry)

Nature's beauty

Nature’s beauty

After seeing, waterfowl, spawning trout, scenic views and recognizing different geological patterns in the surrounding cliff faces and river rock, the Outdoor Explorers made the return hike. Many of the participants were eager to return to this spot, a newly discovered hiking trail and outdoor playground.

A great day!

A Happy Bunch!

With beautiful weather and a wonderful group it was a great day!

A special thanks to all of those you participated! Can’t wait to get outside again!

Helena Outdoor Explorers Program