How Many States Does the Missouri River Touch

How Many States Does the Missouri River Touch?

The Missouri River is one of the longest rivers in the United States, stretching across several states in the central part of the country. It is known for its historical significance, scenic beauty, and contributions to the economy and culture of the regions it flows through. In this article, we will explore how many states the Missouri River touches and delve into some frequently asked questions about this iconic river.

The Missouri River originates in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, near the border with Canada. From there, it flows through multiple states before eventually joining the Mississippi River in Missouri. Let’s take a closer look at the states that have the privilege of being touched by the Missouri River.

1. Montana:
The Missouri River begins its journey in southwestern Montana. It originates at the confluence of the Madison, Jefferson, and Gallatin rivers near Three Forks. From there, it flows eastward, passing through the cities of Great Falls and Fort Benton, before leaving the state near the northeastern border with North Dakota.

2. North Dakota:
After leaving Montana, the Missouri River enters North Dakota. It flows through the western part of the state, passing by the capital city of Bismarck. The river continues eastward, touching several other towns and cities, including Mandan, Washburn, and Williston, before exiting North Dakota near the northwestern border with Montana.

3. South Dakota:
Upon entering South Dakota, the Missouri River takes a southeasterly course. It flows through the capital city of Pierre and bisects the state, dividing it into eastern and western halves. The river passes by or near several other cities, such as Chamberlain, Yankton, and Vermillion, before leaving the state near the southeastern border with Nebraska.

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4. Nebraska:
As the Missouri River enters Nebraska, it marks the northeastern border of the state for approximately 400 miles. It flows through the city of Omaha and continues southward, passing by or near other towns and cities, including Nebraska City, Brownville, and Rulo. The river exits Nebraska near the southeastern border with Kansas.

5. Iowa:
After leaving Nebraska, the Missouri River enters Iowa. It flows along the western border of the state, passing through or near cities such as Council Bluffs, Sioux City, and Burlington. The river eventually exits Iowa near the southeastern border with Missouri.

6. Kansas and Missouri:
Although the Missouri River does not touch these states directly, it plays a vital role in shaping their borders. After leaving Iowa, the river forms the border between Kansas and Missouri for a significant stretch before finally joining the Mississippi River near St. Louis, Missouri.


1. What is the length of the Missouri River?
The Missouri River is approximately 2,341 miles long, making it the longest river in North America.

2. What is the historical significance of the Missouri River?
The Missouri River was a major transportation route during the westward expansion of the United States. It played a crucial role in the Lewis and Clark expedition and was a vital link for fur traders, explorers, and settlers.

3. Is the Missouri River navigable?
Yes, the Missouri River is navigable for a significant portion of its length. It is used for transportation, recreation, and irrigation. Several dams and locks have been constructed along the river to aid navigation.

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4. Is the Missouri River prone to flooding?
Yes, the Missouri River is prone to flooding, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt. Flood control measures, such as reservoirs and levees, have been implemented to mitigate the effects of flooding.

In conclusion, the Missouri River touches six states in the central part of the United States: Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. It is a significant river with a rich history and continues to have a profound impact on the regions through which it flows.