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MT Wild Explorer I Highlights

Canoeing on the wild and scenic Upper Missouri River and backpacking in the SW Montana wilderness!


Jul 04 - Jul 15, 2021


12-14 (enter 7th-9th)


$2795 (airfare not incl.)




  • Riverside canoe camping
  • Expeditions by river and trail
  • White Cliffs of the Missouri
  • Hike slot canyon and coulees
  • Natural hot spring pool soaking
  • Tobacco Root Backpacking
  • High mountain lake camping
  • Swimming and campfire time
  • Small group, BIG FUN!
This trip arrives and departs from Bozeman, MT

My experience with Alpengirl shaped me into who I am to this day. After my first trip to Montana I was hooked! My appreciation for the outdoors, being active and eating healthy started eight years ago on my first Alpengirl camp. Some of my best memories are from my camp days, and...

~ Morgan (Massachusetts)

Trip Description

Girls Summer Camp Canoeing & Backpacking Adventure in Wild Montana

This 12-day camp with a smaller group size emphasizes connection with nature, group living, and outdoor skills during a two different multi-day backcountry expeditions; one on the river and one on the trail.

The trip starts with a 45 mile point-to-point canoe trip down the most scenic section of the Upper Missouri River. The the breathtaking rock formations, expansive river vistas, and delightful swimming opportunities, matched with day hiking and exploration activities among the slot canyons and coulees that line the river, combine to create an adventure that has it all. From peaceful moments on the river to exhilarating slot canyon scrambles, from laughter around the campfire to the soft rustling of cottonwoods, this canoe trip offers a unique opportunity to leave distractions behind and focus on the unusual beauty of the Missouri River breaks and badlands, the simple joys of connecting with friends at camp, and the unexpected luxuries of canoe camping. 

The backpacking trip takes place in the Tobacco Root Mountains where we’ll challenge campers to lead the way and put their legs to work by high tailing it up to some gorgeous mountain lakes for swimming, camping and exploring by foot in the high country. 

Small group, big opportunity at this explorers camp! Only 8 girls in the group allows for strong connections between campers, ample leadership opportunities, and increased outdoor skill building.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Arriving at Bozeman International Airport in Bozeman, MT, your Alpenguides will greet you and introduce you to the rest of your group. Icebreakers, name games, and get-to-know-you fun abounds before you and your new expedition mates hop in the van and drive to our first campsite, near the headwaters of the mighty Missouri River.

We'll be following this waterway during our trip, so fittingly, we're starting our trip at the start of the river! Once we learn how to set up our tents, we’ll continue to get to know each other, then enjoy the first of many delicious and fresh camp meals. 

Day 2: Rise and shine Alpengirls! Waking up energized from a good night’s sleep, you’ll bring your sleeping pad out to our morning circle for the first of our daily yoga sessions.

We’ll allow our bodies to settle into the new rhythm of being outside as our Alpenguides serve a delicious breakfast - perhaps crunchy granola, fresh fruits and berries and strawberry yogurt (YUM!) - then teach us the basics of camping. 

After lunch, we'll be introduced to the river and the Lewis and Clark expedition by hiking to a small overlook where the rivers combine to create the headwaters of the Missouri River. 

Then, we’ll start the trek to our watery wilderness adventure - a drive to north central Montana arriving just 100 miles south of the Canadian border to historic Fort Benton.

At our riverside campsite, your Alpenguides will help you pack up with just the essentials, choosing your gear wisely for a fun and comfortable river trip.

Days 3 - 7: Grab your partners and your paddles, its time to get on the river! We'll be introduced to our canoes, which will be our mode of transportation as we leave the van behind. You'll learn paddling and boating safety, then we'll pack the boats and push off!

We're headed downriver through the White Cliffs and Badlands sections of the upper Missouri River which are designated as National Wild and Scenic. Our five-day, four-night paddle takes us about 45 miles along the river - good thing we're going with the current! Lewis and Clark deemed this the most beautiful section of the Missouri, and today, it abounds with birds and fish, and the river route passes historic homesteads and ranches in addition to many of site from Lewis and Clark's journey. 

We'll explore these and view other spots, including hidden slot canyons, unlikely rock formations like Hole in the Wall and the Seven Sisters, and trails through the bluffs and coulees of this remote stretch of river.

We'll use river maps and guides to plan each day's paddling, and keep our eyes out for the storied sites left by native people, Lewis and Clark, early settlers, and modern day ranchers. Steady paddling and the river's helpful current will allow us to cover up to 15 miles per day, even with plenty of swimming stops and canoe games.

Backcountry skills will take front and center as we settle into the river's rhythm. Our rotating cook groups will wow us with backcountry meals by the river, and we’ll have a campfire on the riverbank to cook on one evening. Our campsites on the riverbank will be a combination of established sites and more primitive locations that we get to experience. We may even pitch our tents exactly where Lewis and Clark did over 200 years ago! We’ll practice Leave No Trace ethics and try to leave each spot better than we found it, becoming stewards of the river and the incredible riparian ecosystem. 

During our paddling days, we might see bald eagles and osprey fishing, beavers and otters scoping us out from their sheltered homes in the riverbank, or deer browsing among the sage. In the evening, we’ll watch for the first stars to appear in the colorful sunset sky and for alpenglow on the white cliffs, and we might hear waterfowl calling to each other as we snuggle into our sleeping bags for a well-deserved rest. 

Side trips abound from the river, and the ever-changing landscape offers unlimited opportunities for day hikes and vistas. With nature as our playground both on and off the water, we'll hold Alpenolympic events, learn games, sing, and also find time for quiet and connection through reading, writing, or maybe even storytelling...who knows?

During this camp, discover the rich historical context of this section of river, which was traversed by Lewis and Clark in 1805, and paddle more than 45 miles of this mighty and peaceful river. Girls will develop confidence in backcountry skills such as cooking, tent camping, and traversing the terrain and waterways of a landscape that has been uniquely carved by the environment. This canoe itinerary challenges each camper to gain paddling and wilderness awareness skills and still allows some time for fun and games, riverside picnics, exploring and swimming.  

At riverside campsites, camper-lead cook groups take advantage of the canoes' carrying capacity to whip up creative, delicious meals. You may construct tarp shelters for protection from sun or rain, and will fall asleep in tents each night, lulled by the sound of the water. By the time you hit take-out, you'll know so much more about packing, paddling, and your own inner power! 

Day 8: Bidding farewell to our trusty canoes, we’ll start our drive back towards the Gallatin Valley and stop en route at a natural hot springs pool to soak our strong paddling muscles, and have a shower and change into clean clothes. We’ll re supply our food and get a good nights rest before we start backpacking starts tomorrow. Tonight may be a good night to settle in for an evening of relaxed fun with our Alpenwear Fashion Show!

Days 9 - 11: Time to put those legs to work, they may feel little wobbly at first from all that canoe time followed by hot spring relaxation, but soon enough you’ll be walking strong while getting closer to your group, feeling refreshed by being off the grid again, gaining all the goodness that comes from saying “Yes!” to physical challenges and discovering your inner power by being immersed in nature. Lace up your hiking boots and roll up your sleeping pad, because today is the day that we start our backpacking trip. 

Before we leave, our Alpenguides will walk us through proper packing procedure and give us a lesson on how to adjust and carry our backpacks. Lightening our load and taking only the essentials, we’ll leave the van behind, grab our cameras and backpack for 3 days for a round-trip total of about 15 miles in the Tobacco Roots. We'll spend one of these days on an exploratory day hike in an attempt to reach a remote high mountain lake for a quick dip. Backpacking affords us sweeping views of pointed peaks and glacier-cut valleys, close-ups of wildflowers and alpine meadows, and sights like we’ve never seen before.

We descend back to the trailhead below and we have one more fantastic stop to make… another natural hot spring pool to soak in, what a treat! We’ll enjoy a special last hurray dinner together, and close the session by reflecting on our experiences, celebrating our triumphs and recognizing each camper during end-of-camp awards ceremony.

Day 12: After a last night camped next to the Missouri River, at the same place that this trip started, it's time to say goodbye to the river and mountains and go home! Exchanging hugs with your friends, you’ll depart from Bozeman International Airport in Bozeman, MT, knowing that you’ve had a ton of fun and accomplished great things as an Alpengirl and will be a part of our fantastic community for life. See you next summer!

PLEASE NOTE: Alpengirl reserves the right to cancel or alter any aspect of a program before or during a program, including program itinerary, activities or location for reason including but not limited to weather, environment, logistics or health hazards. If itinerary changes occur, we will substitute comparable alternatives, if possible. If there are significant itinerary changes, parent will be notified by email.

Trip Campsites & Amenities

Five nights are spent at “front country” campsites with running potable water, and a private outhouse or flushing toilet.

Six nights are spent in tents in wilderness “backcountry” areas where we will provide our own potable water and learn and practice basic Leave No Trace camping skills such as how to select a campsite, how to go to the bathroom, and how to keep clean outdoors. Some backcountry campsites in this itinerary have an outhouse available to us. Where outhouses are not available on the river, we will use the required "Wag Bags" to pack out our human waste. 

Why Choose This Trip

Girls who are looking for an adventure focused on the backcountry experience and leaving behind front country distractions will love this Montana Wild Explorer session. This trip will have any outdoorsy girl empowered and excited to plan her next exploratory river or trail adventure when she gets home. She’ll be able to cook for herself in the backcountry, nourished with friendship, sunshine, and the relaxation of wild places, and best of all, she’ll have experienced all of this with a small group of girls who share her excitement for nature. If you like leaving the front country behind, and soaking up the beauty of your surroundings, going with the flow of the current, and are not afraid of a good challenge, this is the trip for you! Limited to 8 girls in the group.