Follow Along in the Footsteps of the Lewis & Clark Expedition
In April 1805, Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and the Corps of Discovery entered what is today Montana. Over the next five months, they traveled up the Missouri and Jefferson rivers and along the Bitterroot Mountains, making some of the most significant discoveries of their time. The following year, the explorers returned through Montana on the way back to Washington D.C. to report to the anxious president who had commissioned their journey. Now, two hundred years later, the trails Lewis and Clark forged are a highlight journey of many more travelers. Commemorating the monumental journey and its significance to Montana’s fish, wildlife, and parks, the Lewis and Clark Trail is riddled with historic and grandiose sights.
No place claims more of the Lewis and Clark trail than Montana. In their epic expedition across the continent searching for the Northwest Passage this is where they saw more grizzly bears than other human beings; where they gorged themselves on buffalo meat (9 pounds a man per day), where they ran out of whiskey, were battered to the ground by hailstones, and where they wore out a pair of moccasins every two days crossing the rugged terrain. All of this was done whilst they simultaneously sweltered in 90-degree heat and beheld their first snow in midsummer.
Montana constantly beguiled them with what Lewis called “scenes of visionary enchantment”, and it just as constantly challenged them with yawning distances, frustrating delays, and unexpected obstacles.
True, it wasn’t the crossing and recrossing of Montana that earned the Lewis and Clark Expedition its place in the nation’s memory; it was the crossing and recrossing of the entire West. But if it hadn’t been for Montana, there’d be much less worth remembering.
Montana Lewis and Clark Trail Itinerary
Arrive in Great Falls, Montana and settle into your accommodations. Visit the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center to learn about the expedition's journey and the native peoples who inhabited the area. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Travel to Fort Benton, known as the "Birthplace of Montana" and a key site along the Lewis and Clark Trail. Take a guided tour of the Old Fort Benton Historic District, including the historic museum and the steamboat landing. Spend the night in Fort Benton.
Continue following the trail to the Missouri River Breaks Interpretive Center, where you can learn about the natural and cultural history of the area. Enjoy a scenic hike along the Missouri River Breaks and enjoy a picnic lunch. Spend the night in the town of Winifred.
Travel to the town of Lewistown and visit the Central Montana Historical Museum, which showcases the history and culture of the area, including the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Spend the night in Lewistown.
Head to the town of Livingston and explore the Yellowstone Gateway Museum, which features exhibits on the early explorers of the region, including Lewis and Clark. Spend the evening exploring the charming town and enjoying dinner at a local restaurant.
Travel to the town of Three Forks, where the Missouri, Madison, and Jefferson rivers converge. Visit the Headwaters State Park and take a guided float trip down the Missouri River, retracing the expedition's journey. Spend the night in Three Forks.
Return to Great Falls, where you can visit Giant Springs State Park, a historic site visited by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant before departing for home.
At Montana 406 Outdoors Adventures, we can help you plan the perfect Lewis and Clark Trail itinerary, with a variety of activities to suit your interests and skill levels. Book your adventure today and experience the history and natural beauty of Montana!