“It helped me realize my strength mentally and physically.”
— Anna, Missouri River Adventure student

Expedition Overview

Dates: July 14-25, 2023
Age: Entering grades 9-11
Group size: max 8-10 students/2 instructors
Length: 12 days
Tuition: $3,300
12 days paddling canoes and exploring riverside canyons and plateaus by foot
Questions? Send us an email.

MWS Essential Eligibility Criteria
Packing List 
apply Now

Expedition Highlights

  • Hiking in the remote Missouri River Breaks
  • Canoeing the Wild and Scenic Missouri River
  • Paddle through the stunning White Cliffs of the Missouri
  • Explore the iconic Hole-in-the-Wall
  • Visit historic sites along the river corridor
  • Abundant wildlife

Expedition Description

The Missouri River Canoe Adventure (MRA) travels through the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument and historical lands of the Blackfeet, Gros Ventre, and Assiniboine peoples. Students will follow in the paddle strokes of Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery, experiencing a stretch of wild and scenic river that looks much the same as it did during their famous journey in 1805. The stunning scenery and fantastic geology of the Upper Missouri watershed will provide an engaging natural classroom for MRA students to learn about themselves, one another, and the history of this fascinating waterway. Over the course of this 12-day expedition, the group will engage in lessons about place-based ecology, conservation efforts on the Northern Great Plains, and current land use issues in Montana. Students will learn to work as a team in a remote setting, and they’ll develop skills in backcountry wilderness travel, paddling, cooking, communication, and decision-making along the way. While traveling down river, the expedition team will practice Leave No Trace® land stewardship principles, enhancing their awareness of how to best care for the land. Each student will have an opportunity to lead the group as the Expedition Leader of the Day to gain experience with newly acquired leadership skills. For more information about MWS core curriculum and expedition progression, check out Expedition Life.

Expedition Objectives and Learning Outcomes

Teamwork and communication skills

  • Learn positive communication skills with diverse group members to create a healthy community, build trust, and make sound decisions in the backcountry together
  • Develop an expedition philosophy, apply it to the course, and understand how it can transfer back to the student’s home environment

Safety and wilderness based decision making

  • Backcountry hazard evaluation and risk reduction guidelines and tools
  • First aid awareness for backcountry settings: identification and treatment of common backcountry illness and injuries
  • Learn to collaboratively make decisions in remote environments that prioritizes individual and group safety

Conservation Ethic

  • Use basic observational and interpretive skills to demonstrate an understanding and respect for the natural environment
  • Discuss the history, facts and potential solutions to pertinent environmental and social issues affecting the wilderness in the expedition area
  • Reflect upon and discuss the conveyance of wilderness conservation ethics into personal life and build a capacity for commitment and stewardship to wild places
  • Develop comprehensive understanding of Leave No Trace© ethics and apply them during the expedition

Backcountry camping and navigation skills

  • Use safe backcountry kitchen practices to cook nutritious meals on a camp stove or fire
  • Demonstrate an ability to select an appropriate campsite and set up a shelter while minimizing the impact on the ecosystem
  • Understand and demonstrate how to stay healthy, warm, and comfortable in the backcountry
  • Understand and demonstrate techniques for camping and traveling in bear habitat
  • Use various navigation and route-finding tools and methods for on and off trail travel
  • Travel efficiently in the alpine environment using map and compass skills

Technical Skills

Canoe Paddling Skills
  • Packing and securing equipment in a canoe
  • Canoe control and padding stokes
  • Reading water and understanding large river hydrology
  • Endurance techniques for long distance paddling
  • Understand the roles and responsibilities of the ‘stern paddler’ and ‘bow paddler'
apply Now
Montana Wilderness School
PO Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771

Enrollment/Admissions Questions:
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