Scenic Byways

Rolling hills and prairie landscapes are found along the many scenic roads along the Missouri River.
Rolling hills and wide open spaces await you on an assortment of scenic drives within the area of the national park.

NPS Photo


Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
The Missouri National Recreational River corridor serves as a microcosm of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Nearly all the activities that the party was to engage in throughout the two and a half year journey were acted out in this region.

Explore the following links for more information:


Lower Niobrara River Valley Scenic Drive
This scenic gravel road travels along stretches of the lower Niobrara River and Verdigre Creek both located in the 39-Mile District of the Missouri National Recreational River. Note: This area has changed dramatically due to a major flood event in 2019 and parts may not be accessible during wet conditions.


Native American Scenic Byway
Extending through the Yankton Sioux Tribe (Ihanktonwan Dakota Oyate) in southeastern South Dakota along Bon Homme County Road 2, the route takes travelers through scenic rolling hills of the Missouri River bottomlands, past the Yankton Sioux Treaty Monument, and is intersected by the Oyate Trail near Wagner.


Outlaw Trail Scenic Byway
This scenic route of hills, valleys, and jagged cliffs follows Nebraska Highway 12 from South Sioux City to Valentine for 231 miles. The highway retraces much of the path where outlaws such as Doc Middleton, Kid Wade and their associates used to hideout - hence the byway's name. Dig a little deeper though and you will find much more.

  • Visiting an area rich in American Indian history including the Santee Sioux and Ponca Indian tribes.
  • Take a short detour off NE Hwy. 12 at Niobrara onto SD Hwy. 37 where you can cross the Chief Standing Bear Bridge and visit an overlook on the South Dakota side that contains waysides on the history of the area.
  • Explore Niobrara State Park where you can view the Missouri National Recreational River from promontories overlooking the 39 Mile Reach.
  • Stop at Valentine and visit the beautiful Niobrara National Scenic River.


Oyate Trail
Traversing the southernmost portion of South Dakota, the Oyate Trail is a place where rich cultures meet across a wide swath of boundless Dakota prairie. The Oyate Trail ([oh-YAH-tay] in the Lakota language means a people or nation) follows along Highways 50 and 18, with scenic vistas along and near the banks of the Missouri National Recreational River.

  • Make sure to grab your GPS or Smartphone for some geocaching fun.
  • Stop in at the riverside community of Vermillion along the 59 mile reach of the river.
  • Visit the Fort Randall Dam area just above the 39 mile reach.
Shannon Trail
Private George Shannon was the youngest member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. On August 26, 1804, Shannon was lost. He was later spotted by the crew 16 days later. Learn more about his story by traveling through sixteen towns, villages, and tribal areas with your GPS or smartphone. The trail extends over a 180-mile loop starting at Verdigre, NE.

Wild and Scenic Middle Missouri River Driving Tour
Take a narrative history tour on the South Dakota side leading to Fort Randall Historic Site.

Last updated: February 28, 2020

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