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Scenes from the Missouri National Recreational River river
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View of the Missouri National Recreational River at Mulberry Bend
SDPB Photo

The Missouri National Recreational River offers 100 miles of practically pristine river scenery. This unit of the National Park Service is actually two sections of river, one between Niobrara, Nebraska and Pickstown, South Dakota, the other between Yankton, South Dakota and Sioux City, Iowa. These stretches of river are popular with birders, kayakers, power boaters, and anglers. Migrating geese and other waterfowl are a highlight during the spring and fall.

The Missouri River can be wide, shallow and slow, or it can be narrow, deep and fast, depending on location and the amount of water being sent downstream from Army Corps of Engineer dams upriver. Access to the river is limited to designated boat landings and a small number of parks and campgrounds, but there are plenty of river access points easily reached by car.

Swimming in the more-or-less wild river isn't recommended, but a lot of people do it. (There are countless "snags" - dead logs and other debris - hidden just below the water's surface. Surface currents only hint at deeper currents and either can easily overwhelm a swimmer.) Sandbars offer excellent walking and even camping opportunities, but these shifting sediments may present dangers of their own under certain conditions.

The video below shows a few scenes from the Missouri National Recreational River south and West of Vermillion. Some of the scenes were recorded at the Mulberry Bend Overlook on the Nebraska side of the river just off of SD highway 19/NE highway 15. The remainder of the video was shot at Clay County Park, south of Vermillion on Timber Road.

Right now, in March of 2020, people are being encouraged to stay at home in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, they are being encouraged to enjoy the outdoors while maintaining a safe social distance from others doing the same thing. The good news? Nature does not require your distance.