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Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

History | Activities



the heroic expedition of the Corps of Discovery, led by Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark. Thirty three people traveled with them into unknown territory, starting near what is now known as Wood River, Illinois in 1804, reaching the Pacific Ocean in 1805 and returning in 1806. Today's trail follows their route as closely as possible given the changes over the years. It is approximately 3,700 miles long, beginning near Wood River, Illinois, and passes through portions of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. 

Trail Information

Hours/Seasons:  Daily, 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. at headquarters office. Visitor Sites along the trail - please check with each site.

Directions:  Motor routes that approximately follow the route of the historic expedition were marked by state agencies in the 1960's.

Weather:  Conditions vary from site to site, season to season, please check with each site before your visit.







In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis, who along with his friend William Clark, lead an expedition on an epic journey to explore the headwaters of the Missouri River and find an overland route to the Pacific Ocean by way of the Columbia River.  The "Corps of Discovery" departed Camp DuBois near Wood River, Illinois, on May 14, 1804, and proceeded up the Missouri River using a keelboat and two "pirogues". After several councils with the Indian Tribes on the lower Missouri River, and the unfortunate death of Sergeant Floyd near present Sioux City, Iowa, the party reached the Knife River Indian Villages, near present Washburn, North Dakota. There they built Fort Mandan and spent a productive winter gathering information about the Indian Tribes and the lands to the west. They also recruited as interpreters, the Frenchman Toussaint Charbonneau and his Shoshoni wife, Sacagawea. In the spring of 1805, the permanent party continued up the Missouri River in the pirogues and dugout canoes. After an arduous portage around the Great Falls of the Missouri, they reached the headwaters of that great river. Now on foot, the party encountered a band of Shoshoni Indians, coincidentally led by Sacagawea's brother Cameahwait. The Shoshoni assisted the expedition by providing horses and a guide to cross the rugged Bitteroot Mountains. After a difficult crossing on what is now known as the Lolo Trail, the party met the friendly Nez Perce Indians. They left their horses with the Indians and once again made canoes. Navigating down the Clearwater, Snake, and Columbia Rivers, the Corps of Discovery reached the Pacific Ocean in November 1805. The party built Fort Clatsop on the south side of the Columbia River near present Astoria, Oregon, where they spent a cold, rainy winter. In the spring and summer of 1806, the expedition made their way back across the mountains, explored several major rivers in present day Montana, and made their way back down the Missouri River to St. Louis, arriving on September 23, 1806.

General Route



Portions of the trail can be explored by vehicle, by foot, by bicycle, horseback and by boat. The many visitor centers highlight local events and history of the trail.  There are many festivals along the trail throughout the year.  Click on the link below to find information according to the section of the trail you will be visiting.



For Additional Information Contact:

Lewis & Clark NHT
1709 Jackson Street
Omaha, NE 68102-2571
(402) 221-3471


For more information visit the National Park Service website