In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out on their famous Corps of Discovery expedition, which would last 2 years, 4 months, and 10 days. Embarking from St. Louis, these two men and their crew, which included soldiers and hired hands, were on a mission that partly entailed looking for the fabled Northwest Passage. President Thomas Jefferson also wanted Lewis and Clark to perform scientific observations along their journey, as little was known about much of the western lands that they were to explore. To aid in his scientific observations, Lewis studied zoology, botany, and medicine in Philadelphia prior to the trip. As for Clark, he brought river-related skills to the table, and he was a fine map maker and geographer. You can learn more about the storied journey that these two men embarked on during your Montana vacation, as much of their time was spent exploring the state, both on the way to the Pacific Ocean, and on the return trip back to St. Louis. Check out the full Lewis and Clark Trail map.
The Montana Lewis and Clark Trail begins at the North Dakota border in what is present-day Fort Union. From there, the group moved west, following along the Missouri River for quite some time. Over high mountains and through river canyons, Lewis and Clark saw much of the state as they passed through it twice during their round trip, and today, landmarks that give testament to their journey can be found across the state. One of the best ways to explore part or all of the Lewis and Clark Trail Montana is to book a guided tour. Customized tours can be arranged to fit your needs, and if you're interested, you can book a tour that includes other states along the length of the Lewis and Clark Trail. The 10-day tours that journey through the Rocky Mountains in Montana and Idaho are just one of the options when it comes to fixed itineraries. You don't have to book an extended tour, however, if you want to take in some of the sites on the side during your Montana vacation.
One of the more popular landmarks that pertains to the journey of Lewis and Clark in Montana is Pompey's Pillar, which can be found just 28 miles east of Billings. Pompey's Pillar is a large sandstone rock outcropping that was named after Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, who was the son of Sacajawea. "Pomp" was the nickname for little Jean Baptiste, and it was Clark who applied the moniker. Sacajawea, for those who may not know, was the Indian guide and interpreter that accompanied Lewis and Clark during much of their storied trip. One of the main reasons that Pompey's Pillar is such a popular attraction along the Montana Lewis and Clark Trail is because of the fact that Clark etched his signature into the rock in 1806. It's still very much visible to this day. Pompey's Pillar boasts other etched-in signatures, not to mention some Native American animal drawings.
Beaverhead Rock State Monument, which can be found due south of Butte in the Paradise Valley region, is another terrific monument for those who are interested in the Lewis and Clark Trail Montana experience. Beaverhead Rock got its name from the Shoshone Indians. Sacajawea was a Shoshone, and she pointed the rock out to Lewis and Clark while discussing encampments that her people had just beyond it. Heading west of Missoula, some of the more interesting Lewis and Clark Trail Montana landmarks can be found, such as the historic Lolo Trail, which is a National Historic Landmark. Through the Bitterroot Mountains and onward to Idaho, this trail presented some issues for Lewis and Clark in Montana. In their journals, one of the men remarked that while surrounded by the mountains here, "..it would have seemed impossible ever to have escaped."
There are many different landmarks and points of interest that pertain to the long Montana Lewis and Clark Trail, so you can take them in as you go along, or book one of the tours that helps you find them. On the extended Lewis and Clark Trail Montana tours, your meals, accommodations, and attraction fees are often included in the overall price. Even on the shorter Montana Lewis and Clark Trail tours that can be booked in any number of towns and cities around the state, a competent guide will help you learn more about what you're looking at along the way. Even if you don't book a tour or visit any landmarks that focus on Lewis and Clark in Montana, you're bound to hear about them during your Montana vacation. The Montana Lewis and Clark Trail is among the state's top overall attractions, and since it stretches far and wide, you can hardly avoid it. Enjoying a Lewis and Clark Trail Montana experience, be it short or long, is recommended for all Montana visitors, especially those who take an interest in the early history of the United States as a nation.