University Relations and Communications

Scenes of visionary enchantment

March 24, 2010



College of Professional Studies & Lifelong Learning, 896-5890
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


History professor leads journey through the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in June


Registration Deadline May 21, 2010


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — The upper Missouri River is a remote and rugged place which also happens to be rich in history.

Anyone who wants immerse themselves in that combination of characteristics that makes the place uniquely Montana can get join expert river guides and a Montana history expert for a trip through region this summer.


“Scenes of Visionary Enchantment: A Journey through the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument” is scheduled for June 15-26. This extraordinary trip will allow participants to canoe with Montana State University Billings history professor Dr. Keith Edgerton and experienced guises on the entire 149 miles of the national monument.


missouri river hiking through the white cliffs.JPGEdgerton, who has 20-plus years of university-level teaching experience, will be working with the guides and participants throughout the nine-day journey to explore the geology, history and natural environment of the upper Missouri River area. People can get involved for pleasure or take it for college credit.


During this living and learning adventure, participants will:


  • Get away from it all.
  • Become immersed in the history, geology, and natural environment of one of the most beautiful places in the U.S.
  • Experience the extended solitude on a stretch of river virtually unchanged since Lewis and Clark traveled through it over 200 years ago.
  • Challenge yourself personally


Those who travel with Edgerton and the guides will canoe approximately 15 miles a day with the current (there are no whitewater or rapids on the upper Missouri).  The canoeing is safe and relatively easy.  Life jackets will be issued and participants will be encouraged to wear it while in the water.  There will be numerous stops for hiking, group discussions, wildlife and geological viewing and periodic wilderness-based recreation.


The trip will feature camping the entire time with two-people per tent. Everyone will be expected to help with camp set up and break down, and assist with basic camp chores as part of the experience.  There will be plenty of time for personal journaling (part of the course requirement if you use the experience for college credit), reading, reflection, solitude, in addition to daily socializing and recreational activities. 


Topics we will focus on will include:

  • Montana and American History—focusing on Lewis and Clark, the fur trading era, Native/white relations, the steamboat and gold rush eras, and the homesteading era (approximately 10,000 BC to the present)
  • Environmental History—focusing on changing land and resource use by humans (10,000 BC to the present), land management policies, environmental ethics, the impact of and tensions between recreation and ranching, politics of the BLM and other government agencies management decisions.
  • Native American history—focusing on historic cultural and living patterns, land use, fur trading, inter-tribal warfare, disease, and the transition to the reservation era of today
  • Geology and Physical Geography—focusing on the particularly rich 100 million year geologic record revealed in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
  • Additional sub-issues such as stream hydrology, wilderness health and first aid, geo-navigating, canoeing, hiking, and other outdoor skills and activities will also be part of the experience.

The trip price is $1,350, which includes:

  • Canoe, paddle, life vest rental  (2 to a canoe)
  • Two dry bags per person rental
  • Tent rental (double occupancy)
  • 3 high quality meals a day prepared by Guides and beverages (and 2 meals on day 10--lunch only at Kipp State Park)
  • First Aid Equipment
  • Transportation from Kipp State Park back to Fort Benton
  • Gratuity for Guides
  • T-shirt
  • Travel Journal

A list of required necessities and recommended items will be provided to all students prior to the trip. Participants should be in moderately good physical condition (though there will be no dangerous or overly strenuous activities) and should understand that much of the camping will be done in remote and primitive areas.


To register for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, call 896-5890. Additional information is also available if you are interested in College Credit.


For information on other summer-related camps, classes and special events at MSU Billings, go to\summer.