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Powder River (Wyoming and Montana)

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Powder River is a tributary of the Yellowstone River, approximately 375 miles (604 km) long in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana in the United States. It drains an area historically known as the Powder River Country on the high plains east of the Bighorn Mountains.

Powder River
The Powder River in Johnson County, Wyoming.jpg
A view of the Powder River in northern Wyoming
Country United States
States Wyoming, Montana
 - left Crazy Woman Creek, Clear Creek, Mizpah Creek
 - right Wild Horse Creek (Wyoming), Little Powder River
Source Confluence of Middle Fork and North Fork
 - location Near Kaycee, Wyoming
 - elevation 4,564 ft (1,391 m)
 - coordinates 43°40′30″N 106°30′45″W / 43.67500°N 106.51250°W / 43.67500; -106.51250 [1]
Mouth Yellowstone River
 - location Near Terry, Montana
 - elevation 2,241 ft (683 m)
 - coordinates 46°44′00″N 105°26′02″W / 46.73333°N 105.43389°W / 46.73333; -105.43389Coordinates: 46°44′00″N 105°26′02″W / 46.73333°N 105.43389°W / 46.73333; -105.43389 [1]
Length 375 mi (604 km)
Basin 21,875 sq mi (56,656 km2)
Discharge for Locate, MT
 - average 558 cu ft/s (16 m3/s)
 - max 31,000 cu ft/s (878 m3/s)
 - min 0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)
Wpdms nasa topo powder river.jpg
Map of the Powder River basin

It rises in three forks in north central Wyoming. The North and Middle forks rise along the eastern slope of the Bighorn Mountains. The South Fork rises on the southern slopes of the Bighorn Mountains west of Casper. The three forks meet on the foothills east of the Bighorns near the town of Kaycee. The combined stream flows northward, east of the Bighorns, and into Montana. It is joined by the Little Powder near the town of Broadus, and joins the Yellowstone approximately 50 miles (80 km) downriver from Miles City, Montana. The Powder River was so named (in the English language as well as in local indigenous languages) because the sand along a portion of its banks resembles powder or dust.[2][3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Powder River". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ Urbanek, Mae (1988). Wyoming Place Names. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. ISBN 0-87842-204-8.
  3. ^ Chicago and North Western Railway Company (1908). A History of the Origin of the Place Names Connected with the Chicago & North Western and Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railways. p. 115.