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Missouri National River & Recreation Area

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America's longest river, the 'Big Muddy' is steeped in stories about American Indians, Lewis and Clark, fur traders, and steamboat captains. The river's role in the settlement of the Great Plains is celebrated in two free-flowing reaches along the Nebraska-South Dakota border--the Missouri National Recreational River.

Between Gavins Point Dam and Ponca State Park, NE, it still exhibits its dynamic character with a variety of islands, bars, and chutes. Between Ft. Randall Dam and Running Water, SD, it represents the natural landscape of pre-settlement days. These segments also provide habitat for several endangered and threatened bird and fish species.

Besides protecting natural and historic features, Missouri NRR offers such activities as boating, fishing, canoeing, camping, birdwatching, and touring of historic sites, thus providing opportunities to pursue outdoor activities within one of America's great historic settings.



Email - george_berndt@nps.gov

Fax- 402-336-3981

Write to
HQ, Missouri National Recreational River
P. O. Box 591
O'Neill, NE 68763

- or -
Missouri National Recreational River
508 E 2nd St
Yankton, SD 57078

Headquarters - NPS: 402-336-3970
Visitor Information - NPS: 402-667-5530


Operating Hours, Seasons
Of the approximately 33,800 acres included within the boundaries, the National Park Service owns none. Access to the river is available throughout the year depending on weather and road conditions. NPS interpreters work out of the Corps of Engineers' Lewis and Clark Visitor Center near Yankton, SD. The Center is open year-round, though hours of operation do vary. Call 402/667-5530 for further information.

The Passport To Your National Parks cancellation stamp for the Missouri National Recreational River and for the the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail is available in the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center at the Gavins Point Dam.

Getting There
PLANE - Sioux City Gateway Airport is a regional airport served by American West, United, TWA Express, TWA, and Northwest Link. However, there is no public transportation from there to the park and to its various public accesses.

Chad Gurney Airport is located on the north side of Yankton, SD. Again, there is no public transportation to the park, though car rental is available (605/665-3473).

CAR - South Dakota Route 50 and Nebraska Route 12 parallel the park for much of its length. Most of the public accesses to the river are off these two highways. Call 402/667-5530 for a list of the more popular river accesses.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION - No public transportation is available within the park corridor. Limited taxi service is available in Yankton (605/665-4551 or 605/668-9808).

Weather & Climate
Hot in the summer, temperatures typically vary from highs in the 90s to lows in the 50s and 60s. Strong thunderstorms with gusty winds, hail, and lightning are common at any time of day or night. Tornadoes are not an uncommon occurrence, so always be prepared to take cover. If you plan on spending much time outside, prepare by bringing along mosquito repellent, sun screen, and a water bottle.

In winter, temperatures vary widely. Be prepared for temperatures as low as -15 F but more typically between 0 F and 30 F. Dressing for winter along the Nebraska-South Dakota border is best accomplished by layering your clothing. And be ready for snow and ice storms.

Accessible parking, trails and picnic facilities are available at Niobrara State Park (402/857-3373). A bridge for handicapped anglers spans the Niobrara River in the northern section of the park.

Ponca State Park (402/755-2284) has accessible parking, picnic shelters, and cabins.

The Lewis and Clark Visitor Center is handicapped accessible. Handicapped fishing jetties are at Lake Yankton and on the Missouri River by Nebraska Tailwaters campground.

Getting Around
The Missouri National Recreational River is largely on the Nebraska-South Dakota border. Most public accesses are on gravel or dirt roads. In winter, be prepared for hazardous driving conditions; blowing and drifting snow can also pose challenges for motorists.


Entrance Fee

Because the Missouri National Recreational River does not own land or operate a visitor center, there are no fees associated with the park itself. But both Nebraska's Ponca State Park (402/755-2284) and Niobrara State Park (402/857-3373) do charge entry fees. Call ahead for specific information.


Niobrara State Park
Weather permitting, modern camping available from mid-April to mid-October. Primitive camping available year-round. For more information on camping here please call 402/857-3373.

Ponca State Park
Modern camping available, weather permitting, from mid-April to mid-November. Primitive camping available year-round. For more information on camping here please call 402/755-2284.


In Park:
Available adjacent to the Missouri River at Niobrara State Park (402/857-3373) and Ponca State Park (402/755-2284), both in Nebraska.

Detailed Map

Contact Info
contact info
Phone, Email, Address, GPS coordinates

Campgrounds Nearby
List of Nearby Campgrounds

Local weather forecast

These outdoors activities are available near Missouri National River & Recreation Area.
 Campgrounds Near Missouri National River & Recreation Area:
Yankton / Missouri River KOA, Yankton, 2 miles away
Vacation Village, Yankton, 2 miles away
Chalkrock Wildlife Management Area, Saint Helena, 4 miles away
Chief White Crane State Recreation Area, Yankton, 5 miles away
Nebraska Tailwaters, Yankton, 6 miles away
Lewis and Clark Recreational Area, Yankton, 6 miles away
Cottonwood, Crofton, 7 miles away
 Marinas Near Missouri National River & Recreation Area:
Lewis & Clark Marina, Yankton , 7 miles away
 Hotels Near Missouri National River & Recreation Area:
Travelodge Yankton, Yankton , 1 miles away
Best Western Kelly Inn, Yankton , 1 miles away
Days Inn Yankton SD, Yankton , 2 miles away
Holiday Inn Express & Suites YANKTON, Yankton , 2 miles away
Econo Lodge Yankton, Yankton , 2 miles away
Cobblestone Inn And Suites Of Hartington NE, Hartington , 15 miles away
Rory And Ryan Inn, Hines , 28 miles away
 Public Lands Near Missouri National River & Recreation Area:
Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, South Dakota , 9 miles away
 Golf Courses Near Missouri National River & Recreation Area:
Hillcrest Golf & Country Club, Yankton , 1 miles away
Fox Run Golf Course, Yankton , 2 miles away
Glenridge Golf Course, Irene , 14 miles away
Hartington Golf Club, Hartington , 15 miles away
Lakeview Golf Course, Crofton , 16 miles away
 Lakes Near Missouri National River & Recreation Area
Lewis and Clark Lake, Yankton County , 7 miles away

Copyright © Stratus-Pikpuk, Inc. - Pictures of park and text about park by the US National Park Service. Operating hours and fees are valid at the date of publishing and are subject to change, please contact park directly for current information.