Family Vacations and Outdoor Recreation

Along the Lewis and Clark Expedition Route

From 1803 – 1806 the Lewis and Clark Expedition journeyed over 4,500 miles searching for an all-water route to the Pacific Ocean. What they found instead was Americas the Beautiful, breathtaking adventure and friendly Native peoples who helped them along the way.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition Route begins at Pittsburgh and includes 16 states along its course to the Pacific Ocean at Washington State and Oregon.

This website presents the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in five regions with self-guided auto tour routes to some of the top scenic and vacation places in the United States.

Whether you are seeking fun family vacations, outstanding outdoor recreation or a new weekend getaway, let the spirit of Lewis and Clark inspire your own adventures along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail!

Let the spirit of Lewis and Clark inspire you
to make your own discoveries in Lewis and Clark Trail Country.

Ohio River Valley

Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri

On the morning of August 31, 1803, the voyage of the expedition’s keelboat began. The all-water route to the Pacific Ocean that President Jefferson envisioned began at Pittsburgh and followed the Ohio River past present day West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. They proceeded upstream at the meeting of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the frontier river outposts on the Missouri River above St. Louis.

Today you can enjoy Pittsburgh’s river cruises, Louisville’s Kentucky Derby, outstanding outdoor recreation in Ohio and Indiana, good times on Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail, see historical re-enactments, the land of Abraham Lincoln’s youth, Santa Claus Village and Holiday World, waterparks, or just enjoy the natural beauty and great people along the Ohio River valley.

Great Rivers

Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska

In this region the expedition got underway immediately upon the transfer of the vast territories encompassing the Louisiana Purchase. Here Lewis and Clark tested their boats, skills and men to the challenging rigors of the long journey upriver.

Today you can trace the Lewis and Clark Trail St. Louis, walk in the footsteps of history at Fort Massac and Fort Osage, see open prairies where buffalo still roam in Kansas, and enjoy the good times at colorful riverside communities.

Great Plains

Western Iowa, Eastern Nebraska and Southeastern South Dakota

In this region Lewis and Clark held their first councils with Native American peoples, discovered Prairie Dogs and Antelope, marveled at the abundant fish, wildlife and plant life of the vast Great Plains, and struggled against the natural hazards embedded in the winding currents of the Missouri River.

Today you can see Iowa and Nebraska historical sites and fun-filled river festivals, take in scenic rolling hills and open plains, and meet friendly people, who like you, enjoy the good times and beauty of this vast vacationland.

Rocky Mountains

South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana

In this region the expedition witnessed the spectacle of free roaming herds of buffalo stretching to the horizon, were enchanted by “seens of Visionary enchantment”, portaged over the Great Falls of Montana and met the seemingly insurmountable challenge of the Rocky Mountains.

Take in all the excitement of “Wild West” rodeos, go kayaking and white-water rafting on mountain rivers, lakes and streams, and explore the breathtaking vistas that today are home to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Theodore Roosevelt National Parks.

Pacific Northwest

Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon

“O! the Joy!” of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery after they traversed the intimidating Bitterroot Mountains with the help of the Native peoples to ride the swift currents of the Clearwater, Snake and Columbia Rivers until they achieved their goal of finding an inland route to the Pacific Ocean, staking the young nation’s claim as a transcontinental nation stretching “from sea to shining sea.”

Here you can sample the bountiful harvest of the fertile land, take in the sights and sounds of fun-filled festivals, test your skills kayaking, sail boarding or hiking and biking over miles of scenic trails, and experience the golden sunsets of the Pacific Ocean.

Funded and sponsored in part with the support of the National Park Service, the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, and participating federal and state tourism and parks agencies, and county and city tourism bureaus across the 11-state Lewis and Clark National Historical Trail from Illinois to Oregon.

© 2012–2020 The Middle Missouri River Lewis and Clark Network