Powder River (Montana)
Powder River is a tributary of the Yellowstone River
Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately long, in the western United States. Considered the principal tributary of the upper Missouri, the river and its tributaries drain a wide area stretching from the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of the Yellowstone National...

, approximately 375 miles (604 km) long in the southeastern Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

 and northeastern Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It drains an area historically known as the Powder River Country
Powder River Country
The Powder River Country refers to an area of the Great Plains in northeastern Wyoming in the United States. The area is loosely defined between the Bighorn Mountains and the Black Hills, in the upper drainage areas of the Powder, Tongue, and Little Bighorn rivers.During the late 1860s, the area...

 on the high plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

 east of the Bighorn Mountains.

It rises in three forks in eastern Wyoming. The North and Middle forks rise along the eastern slope of the Bighorn Mountains. The South Fork rises on the north slope of Garfield Peak in the Granite Mountains
Granite Mountains (Wyoming)
The Granite Mountains are a short subrange of the Rocky Mountains in central Wyoming of the United States. The range runs approximately 100 mi E-W along the south side of the Shoshone Basin, and north of the Sweetwater River, in eastern Fremont County and western Natrona County. The highest...

 west of Casper
Casper, Wyoming
Casper is the county seat of Natrona County, Wyoming, United States.. Casper is the second-largest city in Wyoming , according to the 2010 census, with a population of 55,316...

. The three forks meet on the foothills east of the Bighorns near the town of Kaycee
Kaycee, Wyoming
Kaycee is a town in Johnson County, Wyoming in the USA. The population was 249 at the 2000 census. It is home to a museum that preserves the cattle ranching heritage of the area, especially the history of the Johnson County War....

. The combined stream flows northward, east of the Bighorns, and into Montana. It is joined by the Little Powder near the town of Broadus
Broadus, Montana
Broadus is a town in and the county seat of Powder River County, Montana, United States. The population was 451 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Broadus is located at ....

, and joins the Yellowstone approximately 50 miles (80.5 km) downriver from Miles City, Montana
Miles City, Montana
Miles City is a city in and the county seat of Custer County, Montana, United States. The population was 8,123 at the 2010 census.- History :...

. The Powder River was so named because the sand along a portion of its banks resembled gunpowder.

The Powder River Basin
Powder River Basin
The Powder River Basin is a geologic region in southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming, about east to west and north to south, known for its coal deposits. The region supplies about 40 percent of coal in the United States. It is both a topographic drainage and geologic structural basin...

 near the Montana/Wyoming border is a major source of low-sulfur coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 mined in the United States.

Variant names

Powder River has also been known as: Ce-than-i-ci-a, Chakadee Wakpa, Red Stone River, Redstone River, Wa ha Sah, Wah-har-sop, Wahasah, War-har-sa, and War-rak-sash.

See also

  • List of rivers of Montana
  • Montana Stream Access Law
    Montana Stream Access Law
    The Montana Stream Access Law says that anglers, floaters and other recreationists in Montana have full use of most natural waterways between the high water marks for fishing and floating, along with swimming and other river or stream-related activities...

  • List of Wyoming rivers
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