The West's portion of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail stretches 2,000 miles

Lewis and Clark’s journey is one that the modern traveler can share. The explorers’ complete route extends more than 8,000 miles, from Camp Wood, Illinois, to the Oregon coast. The best of the trail ― the most beautiful, the least altered ― lies here in the West. To follow the explorers along the Missouri River, across the Rocky Mountains, and down the Columbia River to the Pacific will show you an American West whose capacity to inspire pleasure and awe remains undiminished.


The West’s portion of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail stretches 2,000 miles. To follow it completely requires two weeks. For a shorter trip, consider basing your vacation on one of the three trail segments listed here.

When to go? The Montana to Idaho trail portions are best May to October; the Oregon to Washington segments are fine April to October.


Along the Trail with Lewis and Clark (Farcountry Press, Helena, MT, 2002; $20), Barbara Fifer and Vicky Soderberg. Thorough listings, good maps.

Adventuring along the Lewis and Clark Trail (Sierra Club Books, 2003; $17), Elizabeth Grossman. This guide directs you to the trail’s best outdoor experiences.

The Lewis and Clark Journals: An American Epic of Discovery (University of Nebraska Press, 2003; $30), edited by Gary Moulton. Required reading; single-volume abridgement of Moulton’s 13-volume edition of the journals.

On the River with Lewis and Clark (Texas A&M University Press, Spring 2004; $18), Verne Huser. A river lover’s guide to the expedition.

Traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail (The Globe Pequot Press, 2003; $16), Julie Fanselow. This guide by Sunset contributor Fanselow mixes history with comprehensive travel advice.

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West (Simon & Schuster, 1997; $17), Stephen E. Ambrose. The late historian’s book started the bicentennial boom.

We Proceeded On. The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation’s quarterly magazine is essential for any true L&C fan, fun for everyone else. Membership ($40) information: P.O. Box 3434, Great Falls, MT 59403.

WEBSITES Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation site Good overview of the trail and links to other sites along the way. Environmental group’s overview of the trail and its natural history. Information about bicentennial events.

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