The Missouri and Yellowstone
Thursday, April 25, 1805
On the Missouri River, near the entrance of the Yellowstone River
"...I ascended the hills from whence I had a most pleasing view of the country, particularly of the wide and fertile vallies formed by missouri and yellowstone rivers...I could not discover the junction of the rivers immediately, they being concealed by the woods; however, sensible that it could not be distant I determined to encamp on the bank of the Yellow stone river which made it's appearance about 2 miles South of me. The whol face of the country was covered with herds of Buffaloe, Elk & Antelope..."
Prior to white settlement, the confluence area and much of the lower Yellostone River Valley was a large wooded floodplain. Above the floodplain a vast prairie stretched for miles, with only an occasional range of hills and woody ravines to break up the skyline. The confluence area was a favored hunting ground for numerous Native American tribes, who came from all directions to partake of its bountiful fish and wildlife resources.
Fortunately, the Yellowstone, the longest undammed river in the contiguous United States, retains most of its natural habitat, characteristics, and flows. The Yellowstone River serves as a refuge for many of the Missouri River systems's native fish
The Yellowstone and Missouri River Confluence remains largely undeveloped because it was within the military reservation of Fort Buford. If Fort Buford had not been built here the confluence area would most likely have been the site of a city such as Williston.
The confluence is unique in many ways, one of which is that the Yellowstone is the larger river at this point. Ice jams in the lower Yellowstone and in the Missouri below the confluence have historically caused flooding.