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The Great Falls of the Missouri River in Great Falls, Montana

Welcome to the Great Falls on the Missouri River Tour

This is a quick overview of the Missouri waterfalls near the city of Great Falls, Montana. You can see even more images of the Missouri River waterfalls and dams on this webpage.

It is still possible to see three of the five Missouri waterfalls that were both a magnificent spectacle and formidable barrier to early river travel.  Traveling east to west – the names of the falls are, The “Great Falls” of the Missouri (above) located eight miles northeast of Great Falls,  “Crooked Falls,” “Rainbow Falls,” “Colter Falls” and “Black Eagle Falls.”

Pictured above is the “Great Falls of the Missouri.”  In 1915, Ryan Dam was built on top of the Great Falls, raising the water level so that the falls are now 148 feet high.

Black Eagle Falls - June

Black Eagle Falls - October

The popular “Black Eagle Dam” was built in 1890.  The three-unit hydroelectric plant at Black Eagle Falls have a total generating capacity of 21 megawatts.

Across the Missouri river nothing remains of the 506-foot-high “Big Stack” that dominated the Great Falls skyline and economy for more than 80 years (1893-1980).   The popular central Montana landmark was removed in 1982.  All the numerous industrial buildings that dotted the hillside above “Black Eagle Dam” were gone by 1997.

The name says it all, “Rainbow Falls & Dam” (1910) on the Missouri River.  We waited until October to photograph the falls to allow the color of the rock and vegetation to appear.

Below “Rainbow Falls” you can find a rare Missouri River sight, “Crooked Falls.”                                                                                             “Crooked Falls” is the only visible falls in the Missouri/Mississippi River system that does not have a dam sitting on top of it. The best way to see “Crooked Falls” is from high above.  Click here to visit the “Lewis-Clark.org” website for a view.

Cochrane Dam

East side of Cochrane Dam

The 103 foot tall Cochrane Dam (1958) is one of five dams in the Great Falls area, and it sits between Rainbow Dam and Ryan Dam.  The dam is a two-unit hydroelectric plant with a total generating capacity of 64 megawatts.

Morony Dam (1930) is the farthest downstream of the 5 dams.  This was just a quick overview of the waterfalls and dams east of Great Falls, Montana. If you would like to see the incredible Ryan Island and highlights of the hiking trail east Cochrane Dam just go to the Extended Missouri River Waterfall Tour.