How to Travel the Trail

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Traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail Today[1]

What we know about the Lewis and Clark Expedition today can be largely attributed to the wealth of knowledge recorded in the journals they kept throughout their journey. Captain Lewis wrote about the land, the plants and animals they saw, and the people they encountered along the way. It is because of their journals that today we have a good idea where they traveled and camped almost daily. In some cases we know exactly where they walked, boated, hunted, and camped. In other places our confidence can only be increased through other information sources.

The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation has been dedicated to preserving the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through having the route of the expedition identified on maps and marked on the ground so that people could "follow in the actual footsteps" of Lewis and Clark. These efforts to preserve the route lead to the establishment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The officially designated route begins at Camp Wood in Illinois and traverses 11 states up the Missouri River and down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. Although the route Captain Lewis traveled in preparation for the expedition is not included in the officially designated trail, there are significant sites associated with the story that we recognize and collectively call The Eastern Legacy. Ever since the journals were first published in 1812, there have been efforts over the years to preserve, protect and interpret the places referenced in the journals. As a result, there are thousands of places that have been preserved and opened for people to visit. There are Interpretive Centers that have been constructed with extensive exhibits and programs to participate in. There are hundreds of statues of Sacajawea, the Corps of Discovery, and Seaman that have been erected to honor the bravery and skill of the members of the Expedition. The actual route is marked, either with Highway Markers or trail makers to assist the travelers, whether traveling by boat, car, horse, bike, or on foot.

When the Eastern Legacy sites are combined with the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, it provides an opportunity to travel across the country from Monticello, WV to the Pacific Ocean. A Lewis and Clark traveler can read in the journals about what they wrote about and saw over 200 years ago and compare to what is there now. The Lewis and Clark Trial Heritage Foundation invites you to travel the trail, stop at the Interpretive Centers and sites along the trail and learn more about this amazing story. You can take a grand adventure and travel it from coast to coast in one, or take it in bit size chunks over many years, as many of our members have done.

Planning your own Lewis and Clark Adventure

We recommend that you do a little study ahead of time to plan your trip. Start by visiting http://www.nps.gov/lecl/planyourvisit/index.htm. Study the maps and the journals and decide from there where you want to visit Visit the tourism websites of the states along the route. They all have information about Lewis and Clark in their states.

There are other numerous sources of travel information available to help you plan a trip. One of the best ways to get good information about visiting the trail is to talk to fellow members of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. Our members are all across the trail and have collectively visited them all!

  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

Notes

  1. By Margaret Gorski
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