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Old 01-27-2024, 01:50 PM   #1
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Following Lewis and Clark...

Thinking about following (more or less) Lewis and Clark from St. Louis to the Pacific. Anyone done this, or parts of it, or know the sweet spots along the way? I like to hike, photograph, and paint. Museums are good. Interesting non- L&C ideas welcome. To the extent possible, I am avoiding interstates as a planning principle. I am thinking about spending mid-May through the end of June on this part of the summer. Any information for planing is welcome.
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Old 01-27-2024, 02:35 PM   #2
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As a Lewis & Clark nut I have often thought about doing an organized trip like this. But as more of a wanderer I have jut visited many of the sweet spots in the west. Just listing some L&C sites, here are a few great western ones from east to west:

- junction of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. (Fort Union Trading Post, not in existence at their time, is an interesting nearby stop. As an artist you may enjoy being at a trading post visited by George Catlin and Karl Bodmer in the early 1830’s)

- the Great Falls, not surprisingly in Great Falls MT, and the visitor center there

- Gates of the Mountains, just north of Helena. Interesting boat tour on the Missouri through the limestone canyon

- Missouri Headwaters (and the State Park there) near Three Forks MT. This is where the expedition camped for several days in 1805 trying to figure out which of the three forks to follow. They named the three rivers the Gallatin, Jefferson, and Madison

- jumping all the way to the western end, in Cape Disappointment SP there is a short trail up a hill to the spot where Clark drew the sketch in his diary of the mouth of the Columbia River.

- if you follow the Yellowstone River, like Clark did on the return trip, a must-see site is Pompey’s Pillar. Clark climbed the hill and carved his name into the rock ….and it is still there!
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Old 01-27-2024, 03:56 PM   #3
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DEFINITELY include Pompey’s Pillar on your trip! And see William Clarks personal signature/graffiti on the rock. And of course, the fantastic museum of the journey in Great Falls.
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Old 01-28-2024, 08:07 AM   #4
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I inadvertently omitted Fort Clatsop (in Oregon), a fabulous recreation of the encampment they built for their winter on the Pacific Coast. A short drive from Cape Disappointment.

To add the two sweet spots still on my list of L&C sites to visit:

- the Mandan sites in North Dakota

- the entire stretch along the Snake and Columbia Rivers, especially the Columbia River gorge.

Best wishes for a wonderful trip!
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Old 01-28-2024, 08:55 AM   #5
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One might check with WBCCI; I think they did a L&C caravan.
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Old 01-28-2024, 08:59 AM   #6
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Found it; "Lewis & Clark Trails West" 1974 # N 14 D.
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Old 01-28-2024, 09:08 AM   #7
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I will second the Missouri Headwaters in 3 Forks, MT. We camped there a few years back and biked around the area a bit. Really filled with a feeling of history and respect for what L&C did when they did it. Great idea for a trip. Please report back in.
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Old 01-28-2024, 09:20 AM   #8
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L&C Caverns is near 3 Forks, MT. Obviously L&C didn't discover the caverns but it is an interested side trip. If you have never been in a cavern (Carlsbad, Karchner, etc) it is unbelievable. There is a state campground nearby.
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Old 01-28-2024, 10:11 AM   #9
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I’m an old photographer with 10 cameras and 25 lenses. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody is worth a visit. Also, you might want to venture over to the Palouse. If you’re into funky photos, check out my blue faced girl with checkered glasses that was just featured by Lomography.
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Old 01-28-2024, 11:18 AM   #10
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L&C Caverns is near 3 Forks, MT. Obviously L&C didn't discover the caverns but it is an interested side trip. If you have never been in a cavern (Carlsbad, Karchner, etc) it is unbelievable. There is a state campground nearby.
I agree. We camped in Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park last summer and it was great. The hiking was beautiful and the caverns were nice. I’ve been on many better cavern tours (like the ones mentioned above), but this was still fun.

The hike up to the caverns and back from the campground was moderately challenging and really nice. Bears frequent the area and surprising a mother bear with cubs in the early summer is always a risk. Make sure you’re “bear aware” while hiking.
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Old 01-28-2024, 12:55 PM   #11
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You want to acquire the L& C Journal two volume set as your follow the route
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Old 01-29-2024, 09:35 AM   #12
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We did the St. Louis to Fort Clatsop (WA) a number of years ago with the kids. I got the audio version of "Undaunted Courage" (a great book) and followed daily the book routes (as closely as possible) and points of interest. We took 3 weeks for that trip, as there is a lot to see. Still my favorite trip, by far!
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Old 01-29-2024, 10:13 AM   #13
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This sounds like an amazing trip, I would love to do this as well.
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Old 01-29-2024, 10:28 AM   #14
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If you do a little research on the L&C "trail" prior, you can identify several spots and start to get your reservation research going. Being from Great Falls, MT, I have always taken the Lewis & Clark expedition thru Great Falls for granted, but it is quite interesting to visit the Museum there on the Missouri River when you get there. Lots of very cool information on their journey. They also stopped in Lincoln MT where we had a cabin, on their journey. I am sure your adventure will be a lot of fun! If your going in July/Aug, highly suggest planning the campsites now. Please post your adventure so we can follow along!

Saw this site which may be of some use:

http://lewisandclarktrail.com/traila.../selfguide.htm
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Old 01-29-2024, 03:17 PM   #15
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Saving options.

Over the weekend I made reservations that preserve the potential for starting the Lewis & Clark part of the summer at Monticello, then on to DC for Memorial day. Getting all the way to the west coast is looking like a stretch for the summer.


Thinking about spending several days on the Missouri Breaks. Anyone been up there?
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Old 01-29-2024, 05:06 PM   #16
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Over the weekend I made reservations that preserve the potential for starting the Lewis & Clark part of the summer at Monticello, then on to DC for Memorial day. Getting all the way to the west coast is looking like a stretch for the summer.


Thinking about spending several days on the Missouri Breaks. Anyone been up there?
Well, they didn’t make it by Summer either, took them 2 years! Continue on…….
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Old 01-29-2024, 05:34 PM   #17
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Well, they didn’t make it by Summer either, took them 2 years! Continue on…….
My thoughts as well lol
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Old 01-29-2024, 05:46 PM   #18
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This sounds like an amazing trip, I would love to do this as well.

The trip has been on my list for a long time. Exciting to have it come together this summer. I kind of wish I had done it before you had to have reservations in so many of the parks. When I started with the AS you rarely had to worry about reservations and could free-wheel it a lot more.
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Old 02-01-2024, 05:48 PM   #19
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Upper Missouri River Breaks

Anyone have trip report information on camping and visiting the monument? Right now I have several days set aside for the visit and painting.
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Old 02-01-2024, 06:51 PM   #20
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Well, they didn’t make it by Summer either, took them 2 years! Continue on…….
That first summer was gathering supplies and going from the east to st. Louis, down the Ohio river, where they wintered across the mississipi river in illinois from st. louis. THEN, the next spring, they left into the wild from st. louis, up the Missouri river...that part took 2 years, and is sort of considered the "start" of the journey. The gateway arch (st. louis arch) was built to commemorate that "start", and to represent the gateway for all who followed.
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