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Little Missouri River (North Dakota) facts for kids

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For the river in Arkansas, see Little Missouri River (Arkansas).
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Little Missouri River
Little Missouri River TR National Park.jpg
Little Missouri watershed
Country United States
State Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota
Physical characteristics
Main source Flatiron Butte
near Oshoto, Crook County, Wyoming
4,501 ft (1,372 m)
River mouth Missouri River
Lake Sakakawea, near Killdeer, Dunn County, North Dakota
1,860 ft (570 m)
Length 560 mi (900 km)
  • Location:
    17.5 miles (28.2 km) south of Watford City, about 25 miles (40 km) from the mouth
  • Minimum rate:
    0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)
  • Average rate:
    534 cu ft/s (15.1 m3/s)
  • Maximum rate:
    110,000 cu ft/s (3,100 m3/s)
Basin features
Basin size 8,310 sq mi (21,500 km2)

The Little Missouri River is a tributary of the Missouri River, 560 miles (901 km) long, in the northern Great Plains of the United States. Rising in northeastern Wyoming, in western Crook County about 15 miles (24 km) west of Devils Tower, it flows northeastward, across a corner of southeastern Montana, and into South Dakota. In South Dakota, it flows northward through the Badlands into North Dakota, crossing the Little Missouri National Grassland and both units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. In the north unit of the park, it turns eastward and flows into the Missouri in Dunn County at Lake Sakakawea, where it forms an arm of the reservoir 30 miles (48 km) long called Little Missouri Bay and joins the main channel of the Missouri about 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Killdeer.

The highly seasonal runoff from badlands and other treeless landscapes along the Little Missouri carries heavy loads of eroded sediment downstream. The sedimentary layers, which extend from the headwaters in Wyoming all the way to the mouth in North Dakota, vary in age, but most of the beds along the river belong to the Bullion Creek and Sentinel Butte formations, both deposited during the Paleocene (about 66 to 56 million years ago). The deposits include siltstone, claystone, sandstone, and lignite coal laid down in a coastal plain during the Laramide orogeny.

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