Explore the Lewis & Clark Trail

group at Fort Mandan

Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and the Corps of Discovery departed St. Charles, Missouri on May 21, 1804, to begin their expedition into the unknown.  Their journey was backbreaking, fraught with danger and took 28 months.  This summer you can see and experience the Lewis & Clark Trail in air-conditioned comfort via motorcoach, and it will take just 16 days.  The trip is offered by Shebby Lee Tours, which specializes in tours of the western trails.

The journey  begins in St. Louis with a get-acquainted dinner in historic Laclede’s Landing.  Get an overview of where you’re headed at the Museum of Westward Expansion at the Gatewav Arch, and visit St. Charles, the last outpost of “civilization” the party would see as they headed west.  Other Missouri stops include Fort Osage and the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City.

As the tour heads northwest, it follows the Missouri River for more than 1,500 miles.  On the Iowa side of the river near Sioux City stands the monument to the only man who died on the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Sgt.  Charles Floyd.

In South Dakota we visit the exact spot where one of the most dangerous confrontations with the Natives took place, near present-day Ft. Pierre and enjoy a fish-fry dinner commemorating the location where Lewis caught his first trout.  After a restful night at a riverside resort we move north to Bismarck, North Dakota, a two-night stay marking the half-way point on the journey.  The Corps of Discovery spent their first winter near here at Fort Mandan.  Visit the reconstructed site, as well as Fort Abraham Lincoln, where George Armstrong Custer once served.  That evening you’ll cruise the Missouri River on the Lewis & Clark Riverboat.

The journey continues from Bismarck and features a visit to Fort Mandan and the excellent Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in nearby Washburn. A model earth lodge is a highlight at the Knife River Indian Village, the only national park which commemorates the Plains Indian.  At the western edge of North Dakota sits beautifully restored Fort Union.  It served as one of John Jacob Astor’s major fur trading posts on the Missouri River.

Pompeys Pillar, named for Sacagawea’s son, features a rare example of physical evidence from the Expedition. William Clark carved his name in the rock on the return trip in 1806.  It is located near Billings, Montana.

On a stretch of the Missouri in western Montana, towering cliffs appear to block the way.  As the river changes direction, the cliffs seemed to Pull apart.  Capt.  Lewis called it the Gates of the Mountains.  An interpretive boat ride through the area will be a highlight of your tour.  The scenery and wildlife make for all unforgettable experience.

The tour spends two nights in Great Falls, visiting such outstanding sites as the new Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, beautiful Giant Springs and the Charlie Russell Museum, a tribute to the famed western artist who was a St. Louis native.  Then it’s time to travel over the Lolo Trail, the most difficult part of the journey for the Corps of Discovery.  A local historian will help you understand the chronology and a visit to the Nez Perce National Historic Park brings appreciation of the invaluable role this tribe played in the expedition’s survival.

Traveling through the Columbia River Gorge is a breathtaking experience.  You’ll visit the new Discovery Center in The Dalles and see why Multnomah Falls is the most visited site in Oregon.  And, like all great tours, one of the highlights has been saved for last.  Along the beautiful rugged Oregon coast, you’ll visit the site where Sacagawea and Capt.  Clark saw a beached whale and tour Seaside, where the expedition made salt.  The tour ends in Astoria, near the re-creation of Fort Clatsop, the Corps’ home for the dreary winter of 1805-06.

On the final day the tour travels to Portland for our return flights.  You’ll take with you memories of an exciting venture through some of America’s most magnificent territory, much of it unchanged since Lewis saw it over 200 years ago. You will also take home with you a true understanding of how this expedition expanded our country “from sea to shining sea.”

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