Powder River (Wyoming and Montana)

Coordinates: 46°44′00″N 105°26′02″W / 46.73333°N 105.43389°W / 46.73333; -105.43389
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Powder River
A view of the Powder River in northern Wyoming
Map of the Powder River basin
CountryUnited States
StateWyoming, Montana
Physical characteristics
SourceConfluence of Middle Fork and North Fork
 • locationNear Kaycee, Wyoming
 • coordinates43°40′30″N 106°30′45″W / 43.67500°N 106.51250°W / 43.67500; -106.51250[1]
 • elevation4,564 ft (1,391 m)
MouthYellowstone River
 • location
Near Terry, Montana
 • coordinates
46°44′00″N 105°26′02″W / 46.73333°N 105.43389°W / 46.73333; -105.43389[1]
 • elevation
2,241 ft (683 m)
Length375 mi (604 km)
Basin size21,875 sq mi (56,660 km2)
 • locationLocate, MT
 • average558 cu ft/s (15.8 m3/s)
 • minimum0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)
 • maximum31,000 cu ft/s (880 m3/s)
Basin features
 • leftCrazy Woman Creek, Clear Creek, Mizpah Creek
 • rightWild Horse Creek (Wyoming), Little Powder River

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. Combined with its tributary, the South Fork Powder River, it is 550 miles long. It drains an area historically known as the Powder River Country on the high plains east of the Bighorn Mountains.

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 also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Powder River". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  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.