Lewis and Clark Trail

The Lewis and Clark Expedition was one of the most successful explorations in American History. President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the expedition to map the way west through the recently purchased Louisiana Territory. He instructed the Corps of Volunteers for Northwestern Discovery, as the expedition was officially named, to find a navigable passage to the Pacific Ocean.

On Oct. 10, 1805, the 33 member expedition entered what is now the state of Washington at the convergence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers in Hells Canyon. As they paddled swiftly down the Snake and Columbia rivers, the explorers began to see signs that they were close to realizing their goal. As noted in their journals, Beacon Rock marks the spot where they first detected tidal influences and knew they were approaching the Pacific Coast.

Today you can retrace this historic journey by land and even climb to the top of Beacon Rock to see the landscape much as it would have looked 200+ years ago although the “pre-dam” river would have been much shallower and swifter.

Key points of interest:

  • Hells Canyon – Located at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers approximately 465 river miles from the Pacific Ocean, Lewiston is the most inland seaport on the West Coast. This was where the 1804-06 expedition of Captains Meriwether Lewiston and William Clark first entered what is now Washington State. Half day tours of the canyon are available and highly recommended.
  • Walla Walla – As the unofficial capital of Washington wine country, Walla Walla is a place where scenic beauty, incredible wineries, enticing restaurants, cultural inspiration, outdoor adventures, and small-town friendliness come together to create an experience you’ll want to share again and again.
  • Sacagawea State Park – The Sacagawea Heritage Trail Project is a recreational and educational trail along twenty-three miles of beautiful Columbia River shoreline in Tri-Cities, Washington. The trail is dedicated to the lone woman on the Lewis and Clark expedition.