Lewis and Clark Trail

This article is an itinerary.

The Lewis and Clark Trail is a United States National Historic Trail commemorating the journey of the 1804-1806 Corps of Discovery expedition that explored the U.S.A.'s newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. Starting in Illinois, it follows the Missouri River to the headwaters in the Rocky Mountains, then over the Continental Divide. From there it follows the Clearwater, Snake and Columbia Rivers to the Pacific Ocean near Fort Clatsop Oregon. The expedition paved way for the wave of colonization known as the "Wild West", and the parallel Oregon Trail.


See also: Early United States history

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, a trail of approximately three thousand seven hundred miles, extending from Wood River, Illinois, to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon, following the outbound and inbound routes of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was created by Congress in the National Scenic and National Historic Trails law (16 U.S.C. 1244(a)). Today's Lewis and Clark NHT is the joint effort of many organizations and agencies. Although the Trail is administered by the NPS, sites along the Trail are managed by federal land management agencies, state, local, tribal, and private organizations.

North Dakota, like many other states along the Missouri, has designated a "Lewis and Clark Trail" following the river on both sides. Also common to these states is the naming of the state highways running alongside the rivers; 1804 on the east side and 1806 on the west. In North Dakota the 1804/1806 signage can be spotty, but the "Lewis and Clark Trail" signs are always there.

There are other places as well to experience Lewis and Clark's journey. In Billings Montana, Pompey's Pillar Rock is a national monument featuring William Clark's signature on an unusually large rock along the Yellowstone River. A new interpretive center and museum opened in July 2005. Tours and viewing opportunities out of Billings of Pompey's Pillar Rock are available to the public by the Whoopah Ride.


The long trail

Get in

There are two alternate starting points: Bismarck and Mandan.


This itinerary discusses two paths: from Bismarck to Williston on highway 1804, and from Mandon to Watford City on highway 1806.

From Bismarck, go north on 1804 and follow the Lewis and Clark Trail signs. From Mandan, go north on 1806 and follow the Lewis and Clark Trail Signs.

You'll see the Cottonwood forests of the Missouri Valley, and depending on how close you stay to the river, you'll come across plenty of interesting things.

Notable Places along the East Bank

Notable Places along the West Bank

River crossings are located at

By train

Amtrak's Empire Builder follows part of the route in North Dakota and Montana. The National Park Service seasonally provides interpreters aboard the Empire Builder who explain Lewis and Clark's trip. The Portland branch of the Empire Builder follows their route on the Columbia River for several hundred more miles.


It is possible to retrace most of the route the same way Lewis and Clark did--by boat--on the Missouri and Columbia Rivers.



Hartford, IL 62048,  +1 618 251-5811.





South Dakota

North Dakota





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