In some cases the Lewis and Clark campsite locations mentioned below are uncertain and thus may be only approximate. The book by Ferris (1975) provides excellent descriptions of many of the more important historic sites mentioned here. For general information on national parks and recreation areas, use the National Park Service website, www.nps.gov. The home page of the Park Service's Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is www.nps.gov/lecl. For useful travel information on national, state, and local historic and recreational sites, try www.lewisandclarktrail.cjb.net. The website of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation is www.lewisandclark.org. Local faunal checklists can often be obtained directly from the specific site's headquarters, but many such checklists may also be found on-line at the following Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center website, http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov. A more general source of biological resource information on these and other sites is available at a related Northern Prairie website, http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov.
Located one mile south of Weston on State Highway 45, near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 2, 1804. Riverbottom forest of mature hardwoods on the east side of the Missouri River. Camping is permitted.
These bottomlands on the west side of the Missouri River across from Weston Bend State Park are on the 5,600-acre Fort Leavenworth military reservation. They consist of similar mature riverine stands of elm, hackberry, cottonwood walnut, and pecan. Some of the trees are old enough to have been alive when Lewis and Clark camped near here on July 2, 1804. Accessible via Chief Joseph Loop Drive within Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. There are several hiking trails (such as Taildike Trail) leading through dense woods to the Missouri River. There is also a Frontier Army Museum at the fort and a Historical Society Museum.
Located five miles south of Rushville, off State Highway 45, near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 4, 1804. Mature riverine woodlands. The site contains an oxbow lake (Sugar Lake), a former channel in the Missouri that was cut off. It was first described by Lewis and Clark, who called it "Gosling Lake." Camping is permitted.
Independence Park, on the city waterfront, marks the place where the expedition spent July 4, 1804, celebrating the national holiday and naming the small nearby creek Independence Creek.
The 112-acre McCormack Loess Mounds is about 1.5 miles to the south of Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge (see below) and is near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 10, 1804. This site is near the southern end of the Loess Hills region that extends along all of extreme western Iowa. The site is also the western half of the 227-acre J. C. McCormack Wildlife Area, and both overlook the Squaw Creek lowlands. Both sites are mostly upland prairie developed over loess-covered hills that rise as high as about 250 feet above the surrounding lowlands.
Located five miles south of Mound City on U.S. Highway 159, near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 11-12, 1804. A major waterfowl staging area in spring and fall, especially for snow geese, and visited later in the fall and during early spring by bald eagles. Also used by many other migratory water birds. Loess bluffs on the west side support prairie and mature hardwood forest. The refuge's bird checklist contains about 270 species, including such birds seen by Lewis and Clark in this general region as the American white pelican, common egret, American bittern, Canada goose, and wood duck. The refuge area comprises 6,887 acres, mostly consisting of riverbottom and upland forest, prairie, and marshes.
This small town in northeastern Kansas houses the Native American Heritage Museum and the Sac and Fox Tribal Museum. They contain exhibits documenting the impact of the Lewis and Clark expedition on the Native Americans living along the Missouri River, including the Iowa and Sac and Fox tribes. The relatively small, adjoining Iowa Indian Reservation and Sac and Fox Indian Reservation are located along the Nebraska-Kansas border, south of the Big Nemaha River. On the Nebraska side, about four miles south of Rulo, is a community hall of the Iowa tribe, housing some artifacts and historic as well as more recent Native American images. Not far north, along the Big Nemaha River and about 1.5 miles upstream from its mouth, is an ancient Iowa-Missouria burial ground. It was discovered on July 12, 1804, by Captain Clark, who described them as "Artificial Mounds." Traces of these ancient burial mounds still exist, but they have been largely obscured by more recent interments and agricultural activities. Clark also described the prairie grasses of the nearby bottomlands as about 4.5 feet tall, with clumps of "Osage Plumb," grapes, and wild cherries on the hillsides. Clark observed that the Big Nemaha ("Ne-Ma-Haw") was a meandering stream of clear water about 80 yards wide at its mouth. It is now a narrow, muddy stream with eroded silt banks.
This prairie preserve is reached by turning west off Exit 116 from I-29. It consists of 125 acres of Missouri's much larger 2,262-acre Brickyard Hill Conservation Area, which has extensive oak forests and 41 acres of intervening upland prairies along the loess bluffs, the so-called Bald-pated Hills of Lewis and Clark. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 13, 1804.
This native prairie site is located about 1.5 miles south of the Iowa state line and 12 miles north of Rockport. It is also about five miles northeast of the Brickyard Hill prairie preserve (see above). It lies on 70 acres of the adjoining Star School Hill Prairie Conservation Area, totaling 359 acres. Both are upland prairies situated on loess hills adjacent to the Missouri floodplain. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 13, 1804. On July 17 Captain Clark mentioned these "Bald Hills" and "extensive Prairie" that he observed in the vicinity of the present-day Missouri-Iowa state boundary
An undeveloped 424-acre forest, about six miles southeast of Rulo, containing mature hardwood forests and some prairie vegetation on high, steep loess hills and bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. It is noted for its high botanical diversity, but because the area is undeveloped, with no amenities or marked trails, access is restricted. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 11- 12, 1804. Owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy; permission to enter must be obtained from their Omaha field office.
A mostly wooded park of 2,831 acres, about ten miles east of Shubert, on State Highway 64E. Mature riverine hardwood forest. A shallow Paleozoic limestone cave of Pennsylvanian age contains a few Native American petroglyphs (mostly now overwhelmed by recent graffiti). There are 20 miles of hiking trails. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 14, 1804. Camping is permitted.
The expedition camped just south of here on July 15, 1804. The Meriwether Lewis, a now-retired steam-operated paddle-wheel dredge, is dry-docked in the city park beside the river, and has some Lewis and Clark information.
A 1,247-acre prairie and hardwood forest park, located on steep loess hills overlooking the Missouri River. At least one of the bur oaks in the park is known to be over 300 years old, so it was already mature when Lewis and Clark passed by these "bald-pated hills." At least ten acres are still in prairie vegetation. The park is nine miles north of Hamburg, off I-29 on State Highway 2. Camping is permitted. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsites of July 16-17, 1804.
A new facility, the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trail and Visitor's Center, is currently being built. It is situated on 79 wooded acres, encompassing a tall, loess-capped bluff overlooking the Missouri River. It should be opened in time for the Lewis and Clark bicentennial and will emphasize the natural history of the expedition. Full-sized replicas of the Lewis and Clark keelboat and a pirogue (both authentically made for an IMAX documentary movie) will also be on display. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 17, 1804.
This wildlife area is a state-owned wetland of 1,800 acres (400 acres of which is a refuge and the rest is open to sport hunting). Formerly an old Missouri River oxbow lake at the base of the Iowa Loess Hills, it is now a shallow cattail and tule marsh with wonderful spring habitat for migratory waterfowl (especially snow geese) and other wetland birds. It is reached by taking the Bartlett Exit from I-29, about 15 miles north of Waubonsie State Park (see above). Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 18, 1804.
A mature riverine hardwood forest of 1,400 acres, owned by the nonprofit Fontenelle Forest Association. It has 17 miles of hiking trails through upland and lowland woods, a visitor center, and a wetland learning center. There is a bird checklist of 246 species and a local mammal list. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 27, 1804.
A 554-acre nature preserve in northern Omaha, with mature upland oak-hickory forest, tallgrass prairie, nine miles of nature trails, and an interpretive center. An additional 262 acres of floodplain forest are being acquired. There is a bird checklist of about 190 species. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 28, 1804.
The Joslyn Art Museum has the entire collection of the magnificent watercolors made by Karl Bodmer during his trip up the Missouri River during the early 1830s with Alexander Philip Maximilian, Prince of Wied, just three decades after the Lewis and Clark expedition. Many of these originals were later converted into hand-colored aquatint engravings and published in Europe. An office of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is located at 1709 Jackson Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68102.
A 40-acre site on the north side of Council Bluffs, commemorating the formal meeting of Lewis and Clark with the Otoe-Missourias. Natural habitats include oak-dominated woods and hillside prairies. On July 28, 1804, Captain Clark reported seeing "high prairie and hills, with timber" near present-day Council Bluffs. Folsom Point Preserve, a 281-acre Nature Conservancy prairie in the Loess Hills, is located at the south side of Council Bluffs off Brohard Avenue. Council Bluffs is also home to the Western Historic Trails Center, providing information on the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail and other western trails such as the Oregon and Mormon Trails. About eight miles north of Council Bluffs, off State Highway 183, is Hitchcock Nature Center, a Pottawattamie County educational facility. It is located on the crest of a series of 400-foot loess hills and is noted as a site for watching fall raptor migrations along the Missouri Valley. The "Councile Bluff" site that was selected by Lewis and Clark for their historic meeting with the Otoe-Missourias is located about 15 miles north of the city of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and is on the Nebraska side of the river (see Fort Atkinson below).
A new and rather small (2,000-acre) refuge located about five miles east of Fort Calhoun, near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 28, 1804. This is a reconstructed side channel (a so-called chute) on the west side of the Missouri River. The area is still under development, with an additional 8,000 acres planned. There is no local bird checklist, but the DeSoto Bend refuge list is probably applicable. Managed by the nearby DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge (see below).
Located one mile north of Fort Calhoun on County Road 34, near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 30-August 3, 1804. Fort Atkinson was founded in 1820 but was soon abandoned in 1827, when western overland routes farther south made the Missouri River corridor less vital to national interests. Fort restoration began in the 1960s, and there are now several restored buildings as well as a visitor center. The fort is located on the summit of Council Bluff (on the Nebraska side of the river, not in Iowa), the place where Lewis and Clark met with the Otoe-Missourias on August 3, 1804. (As a result of channel shifting, the river is now some three miles east of the bluff summit, and because of timber growth is no longer visible from the bluff.) This was Lewis and Clark's first formal meeting with any tribe of Native Americans. The Otoe- Missourias were initially assigned a reservation area of 160,000 acres along the present-day Nebraska-Kansas border but in 1881 were relocated to Indian Territory (now parts of Noble and Pawnee Counties in Oklahoma). It was the Otoe (often spelled Oto) who were responsible for giving Nebraska its name, from an Otoe word meaning "flat water," referring to the Platte River.
A 7,823-acre federal refuge situated one mile east of Blair, Nebraska, on an old oxbow of the Missouri River. This refuge is a major spring and fall staging area for snow geese and other migratory waterfowl. A visitor center contains panoramic viewing windows and a vast collection of artifacts from the unlucky steamboat Bertrand, sunk when it hit a snag in 1865. It had been filled with household goods and mining supplies intended for the Montana gold fields. The refuge has a bird checklist of 240 species, including such species seen by Lewis and Clark in this general region as the great blue heron, bald eagle, wild turkey, and western meadowlark. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of August 3, 1804.
A small (176-acre) state park situated five miles west of Onawa on State Highway 15. The oxbow lake is surrounded by cottonwoods and other riverine hardwoods, with a reconstructed full-sized keelboat and two pirogues on view during the summer months. Encompasses the Lewis and Clark campsite of August 9, 1804. A new interpretive center should be finished in 2003. Just east of Onawa is Sylvan Runkel State Preserve, a 330-acre tallgrass prairie within the 2,742-acre Loess Hills Wildlife Management Area. Monona County has two other public-access natural areas, Loess Hills State Forest, with more than 100 acres of prairie, and Turin Loess Hills, with 220 acres.
Pelican Point State Recreation Area is close to the place where a vast flock of American white pelicans was seen by the expedition. "Pelican Island" is no longer an island, but the point is located four miles east and four miles north of Tekamah.
These two reservations, located between Decatur and Homer, Nebraska, were established in 1856 and 1866, respectively, the Winnebagos having been moved here from South Dakota and, still earlier, from Minnesota. Standing on the Omaha Indian Reservation is Blackbird Hill, the gravesite of the Omaha chief Blackbird, which was visited by Lewis and Clark on August 11, 1804. Chief Blackbird had died of smallpox in 1800 and was buried sitting erect on a horse, and a wooden pole decorated with all of the scalps he had taken was planted in the soil above. His gravesite is situated on the highest of the river bluffs between Decatur and Macy but is not readily accessible. The 300-foot and now mostly tree-covered promontory can best be seen about one mile east of Blackbird Scenic Overview at a site three miles north of Decatur (milepost 152 on U.S. Highway 75).
The Omahas had moved into the region from the Ohio River valley by the 1700s, and by 1775 the tribe had a large village in this immediate area. During the smallpox epidemic of 1800 the Omaha population was reduced from about 700 to 300, and its previous reputation as a powerful warrior society disappeared. During the later period of displacement of Native Americans to reservations in the mid-1800s, the Omahas were allowed to remain on part (originally 300,000 acres) of their original homeland. The northern part of their ceded land was later given to the Winnebagos, and some of the remainder was later sold to white settlers. In spite of their peaceful nature the Omahas were not accepted as U.S. citizens until 1887, and their full rights of citizenship were not attained until 1924. Similarly, the Pawnees of eastern Nebraska (the "Pani" or "Pania" of Lewis and Clark) were sent in the 1850s to a relatively tiny preserve of about 300 square miles along the Loup River (now part of Nance County), an area representing less than 1 percent of their original vast homeland along the Platte Valley. After this land was sold to settlers in 1872 they were relocated in 1874 to a part of Indian Territory (Oklahoma), in an area between the Arkansas and Cimarron Rivers. At the time of Lewis and Clark, the Pawnees were probably second only to the Lakotas in population size among Plains natives, numbering perhaps 10,000 people. By comparison, the Omahas may have historically numbered about 2,800 at maximum, the Otoes about 1,800, and the Missourias about 500. By the late 1900s there were still nearly 3,000 Natives Americans living on Nebraska reservations, including about 1,300 Omahas, 1,100 Winnebagos, and about 400 Santees. The annual powwow of the Winnebago tribe occurs in late July.
This city, built near the Lewis and Clark campsite of August 20, 1804, has a Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Chris Larsen Park as well as the Sergeant Floyd Monument, which is placed on a hilltop south of town near where Sgt. Charles Floyd, the only expedition fatality, was buried. Because of erosion, his remains were reburied twice, once in 1857 and again in 1900, this time in the concrete foundation of the monument. Floyd River runs nearby, and the Sergeant Floyd Riverboat Welcome Center, a dry-docked diesel inspection ship, has been converted into a small museum of Missouri River history, including information on Lewis and Clark. At the northern edge of Sioux City on Memorial Drive is Stone State Park, a 1,069-acre prairie and woodland reserve situated on loess hills overlooking the confluence of the Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers. It has a nature trail, a demonstration prairie, and an available list of local wildflowers. Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, with exhibits on the Loess Hills region, is within the park. Nearby is Sioux City Prairie, a 150-acre tallgrass prairie west of Briar Cliff College, and Mount Talbot State Preserve, off Talbot Road. About ten miles north of Sioux City is the 889-acre Five-Ridge Prairie, and near there is the 2,000-acre Broken Kettle Prairie, the largest of the tallgrass prairie preserves in Iowa. Both are Nature Conservancy preserves.
The loess hills in northern Iowa (Woodbury and Monona Counties) may approach 400 feet in height and range up to ten miles wide, the loess caps themselves adding as much as about 200 feet to the underlying sedimentary substrate. The Loess Hills region of Iowa comprises the eastern edge of the Missouri Valley, and it supports over 100 nesting species of birds, 54 mammals, 24 reptiles, and 10 amphibians, according to a summary by Cornelia Mutel. There are also at least 39 native species of trees and larger shrubs in the Loess Hills, the botanical diversity gradually increasing from north to south. These hills are the second highest accumulations of windblown materials ("loess" is a German term for "loose") in the world. The silt-sized particles that were deposited here originated much farther west, and a layer of loess several feet thick covers all of Iowa except for the north-central section. The hills still support up to 20,000 acres of native tallgrass prairies, much of which exist in small, diminishing patches. Near North Sioux City (take Exit 4 from I-29) and bordering the Missouri River is Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, a 1,500-acre state-owned park and preserve with 7.5 miles of crushed limestone trails and 5.5 miles of grassy trails, mostly through lowland riverine woods.
A state park of 830 acres, situated two miles north of Ponca, on State Highway 12. Consists of mature riverine hardwood forest at the lower end of the Missouri National Recreational River system. There are 17 miles of hiking trails. A new interpretive center, the Missouri National Recreational River Resource and Educational Center, has been constructed in Ponca State Park and focuses on the ecology and history of the Missouri River, including the Lewis and Clark expedition. There is a park bird checklist of about 240 species. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of August 22, 1804. Camping is permitted. The park was named after the Ponca tribe, once part of the Omaha tribe, which had settled on the west bank of the Missouri River in present-day South Dakota during the early 1700s. At the time of Lewis and Clark, the Poncas numbered perhaps 800 people. Their initial reservation (first established in 1858 and enlarged to 96,000 acres in 1865) was taken over in 1868 by the federal government without prior consultation and was made part of the Great Sioux Reservation. The resulting conflicts with the Lakotas, together with a government eviction order in 1876, forced the Poncas to resettle in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). They were first assigned to the then-existing Quapaw Agency during the winter of 1877-78. The return of Chief Standing Bear only a year later with about 30 of his followers to bury his eldest son in an ancestral graveyard led to the entire group's arrest. It produced one of the most famous courtroom scenes in American history and raised the remarkable legal question as to whether a Native American was a "person" under the meaning of then-existing law. The case against Standing Bear was eventually dismissed by the Supreme Court, and a restoration of 26,236 acres of Ponca tribal land in the Niobrara Valley occurred in 1881, after a presidential commission reviewed the tribe's sad history. In 1884 the Oklahoma (or "Hot Country") Poncas were moved to a new reservation in the Salt Fork River area. This group is now located in Kay and Noble Counties of Oklahoma. However, the Ponca reservation in Nebraska was dissolved in 1954, and for several decades the tribe was no longer recognized by the federal government, until it was officially restored again in 1990.
Newcastle, Nebraska, is five miles southwest of a bluff called the Ionia Volcano, which Captain Clark reported he had touched and found unaccountably warm. The heat was later judged to be produced by the oxidation of shale.
This 1,632-acre park is located one mile north of Niobrara on State Highway 12 and mostly consists of mature riverine hardwood forest, not greatly altered from the area's natural state. It is situated at the now-impounded mouth of the Niobrara River, 20 miles of which are now part of the Missouri National Recreational River system. There is a two-mile trail along the entire northern boundary of the park and an interpretive center with some Lewis and Clark exhibits. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of September 4, 1804. Camping is permitted.
East of Niobrara State Park is the Santee Sioux Indian Reservation, whose ancestors were brought there in 1869 from the Crow Creek Reservation in western South Dakota. Still earlier, they had been removed from Minnesota. There they had engaged in a bloody uprising against the white settlers in 1862, after which 1,800 Santees were imprisoned and 33 executed. The Santee Sioux reservation in Nebraska originally consisted of 117,000 acres but was later substantially reduced.
This treeless sedimentary cone of grayish-yellow clays, about 70 feet in height, was discovered and named "The Cupola" by expedition members on September 7, 1804. Now known as "Old Baldy," this largely intact site is seven miles north of Lynch, Nebraska, on privately owned land. The nearest public road (unnumbered but easily traveled) passes within about a half mile and offers an excellent view of the site and several miles of the nearby river valley, which is still fairly pristine. At the base of this promontory a colony of blacktailed prairie dogs was discovered by Lewis and Clark, the first examples of this keystone shortgrass plains species known to science. This colony is now gone, but others occur in the general vicinity. Several prairie dogs that Lewis and Clark had captured alive were sent back to Washington DC in April of 1805, one of which survived the 4,000-mile trip. It and a black-billed magpie that had likewise survived were eventually displayed alive for a time at Charles W. Peale's Philadelphia Museum (also known as Peale's Museum), which eventually received nearly all the Lewis and Clark specimens at the end of the expedition. It was housed in Independence Hall until 1838, when it was moved the first of two times. Finally, in 1850 its contents were sold, in part to P. T. Barnum and in part to the Boston Museum. Some of the materials from the latter eventually were passed on to Harvard University, but most have disappeared, including the prairie dog.
The lower section of this nationally designated part of the Missouri is located along the Lewis and Clark campsites of August 22-25, 1804. This 59-mile segment of river stretching from about Yankton to Ponca State Park still somewhat resembles the river conditions seen by Lewis and Clark. The Yankton Sioux Indian Reservation (now about 36,000 acres) is located directly north of the river. It has been home to the Nakota-dialect (Yankton) Sioux, who first formally met Lewis and Clark in the vicinity of present-day Yankton, South Dakota. The reservation-based population in the early 1990s was about 3,000 people, with another 3,000 living off the reservation. At the time of Lewis and Clark, the Sioux were the most numerous of the plains tribes, at one time numbering perhaps as many as 27,000.
Seven miles north of Vermillion on the west side of State Highway 19 is Spirit Mound, a low, treeless promontory climbed by Captain Clark and a small party on August 25, 1804, and from which they saw large herds of elk and bison. Long neglected, this 320-acre site has been acquired by the South Dakota Game and Fish Department, which is restoring the site to native vegetation. In the city of Vermillion the W. H. Over Museum has a Lewis and Clark-Spirit Mound Learning and Information Center. Associated with it is a Heritage Garden featuring plants observed or collected by Lewis and Clark. The Vermillion River's name comes from the red clay pigments along its banks. The nearby 39-mile section of the Missouri from Fort Randall Dam south to the confluence of the Niobrara River is also a part of the Missouri National Recreational River (see above) and encompasses the Lewis and Clark campsites of September 4-8, 1804. About 30 miles north of Vermillion is Sioux Falls, which has the Center for Western Studies at Augustana College as well as the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Sciences housing both Native American and regional art galleries.
This 1,227-acre state recreation area, adjoining the 32,000-acre Lewis and Clark Reservoir and Gavins Point Dam, encompasses the Lewis and Clark campsites of August 28 to September 1, 1804. Calumet Bluff, where Lewis and Clark met formally with the Yankton Sioux, is located on the Nebraska side of the river, about two miles east of Gavins Point Dam. This bluff, about 170 to 180 feet high, is part of a series of steep-sided reddish- to brownish-clay promontories on both sides of the river. Calumet Bluff is now the site of a Lewis and Clark Visitor Center, which contains exhibits on the river, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the council held with the Yankton Sioux. A nearby nature trail is 1.5 miles long. At the western end of the reservoir on the Nebraska side is a lowland area of woods and wetlands, the Bazille Creek Wildlife Management Area, totaling 4,500 acres. Camping is permitted at the state recreation area. Yankton has an annual Lewis and Clark Festival on Labor Day weekend.
Karl Mundt NWR is a small federal refuge located immediately below Fort Randall Dam and Lake Francis Case. It was established to protect wintering bald eagles, so public access may be restricted. However, an eagle-watching platform is located at Randall Creek Recreation Area, about three miles north of the refuge and near the south end of Fort Randall Dam. Karl Mundt NWR is located near the now-impounded Lewis and Clark campsite of September 8, 1804, and is managed by Lakes Andes National Wildlife Refuge.
This refuge is located six miles east of the town of Lake Andes, beside an oxbow lake of the same name. It consists of 5,770 acres, in three separate units, mostly of marshes and prairie along the lake's shorelines. There is a bird checklist of 213 species. Bird species occurring here and that were observed by Lewis and Clark while they were in the Great Plains include the American white pelican, bald eagle, greater prairie-chicken, sharp-tailed grouse, great horned owl, and cliff swallow.
A 735-acre area located on impounded Lake Francis Case. It is directly west of Platte via State Highway 44. Near the now-flooded Lewis and Clark campsite of September 11, 1804. Camping is permitted. The Platte Creek State Recreation area is located about eight miles farther south, near the Lewis and Clark campsite of September 10, 1804. Camping is permitted.
The Lewis and Clark Keelboat Information Center is a newly finished, state-operated tourist information center located just off I-90 near the bridge crossing Lake Francis Case. The Center is devoted largely to Lewis and Clark, with a somewhat simplified keelboat reconstruction that has been incorporated into the structure of the building itself. Exhibits feature some of the supplies carried on the expedition, its regional discoveries, and excellent murals showing historical aspects of the expedition. The Information Center also has surrounding native vegetation and provides a spectacular overview of Lake Francis Case. Chamberlain's other historic and cultural attractions include the Atka Lakota Museum and Cultural Center, a modern Native American museum and art gallery with both historic and recent Lakota cultural items. Chamberlain is located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of September 18, 1804. Two miles north of town on South Dakota Highway 50 is Roam Free Park, with two nature trails and native grassland vegetation.
These large reservations (Lower Brule Indian Reservation is 132,601 acres; Crow Creek Indian Reservation is 125,591 acres) border both sides of the impounded Missouri River (Lake Sharpe) in the region of the Big Bend for about 80 miles of shoreline distance. These reservations are home to the Lower Brule and Crow Creek components of the Lakotas. A Native American National Scenic Byway (Bureau of Indian Affairs Highways 10 and 4) crosses both reservations, linking Chamberlain and Pierre. This near-wilderness road passes scenic rolling hills that are often capped with infertile blackish Pierre shales of Cretaceous age. The soils support arid-adapted plants such as some of the sages that were discovered by Lewis and Clark. The two reservations collectively encompass the Lewis and Clark outward-bound campsites of September 19-22, 1804, and the return campsites of August 26 and 27, 1806. There are summer powwows (in August), and the reservation lands support large tribal bison herds. Fort Kiowa, built in 1822, was located just south of the Lower Brule Reservation, and Fort Defiance, built in 1842, was located within it, as was Fort Hale. These forts as well as Fort Thompson and Fort Pierre were once important jumping-off points for prospectors headed for the Black Hills.
A 154-acre state-owned recreational site along the famous Big Bend of the Missouri, now a part of impounded Lake Sharpe, formed behind Big Bend Dam. The historic river length of the Big Bend was 30 miles, but the overland distance between the two ends of the loop was only about 2,000 yards. The state recreation area is located 35 miles southeast of Pierre, off State Highway 34, and is near the Lewis and Clark campsite of September 20, 1804. Camping is permitted.
Headquartered at Pierre. A large (115,996-acre) federally owned area of shortgrass and mixed-grass prairie, with an associated bird checklist of more than 200 species. Many gravel roads intersect the grassland, where western meadowlarks, upland sandpipers, and marbled godwits are among the more characteristic breeding birds. Lark buntings, possibly but not definitely seen by Lewis and Clark, are usually very common. There is no published mammal list, but the white-tailed jackrabbit, thirteen-lined ground squirrel, black-tailed prairie dog, bushy-tailed woodrat, coyote, mule deer, and pronghorn all occur in this general area, to mention some of the regional mammals discovered by Lewis and Clark. Camping is permitted. The northern boundary is located about ten miles south of Fort Pierre and may be reached via U.S. Highway 83.
A state-owned 1,235-acre nature preserve and recreational area, located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of September 24, 1804. A hiking trail extends from Pierre south to the recreation area along the east shoreline of the Missouri River. Camping is permitted.
A 1,280-acre recreational area and nature preserve (including an eight-mile nature trail loop). Its entrance is located near Steamboat Park, off Poplar Avenue, and near the Lewis and Clark campsite of September 25, 1804. It was at the nearby mouth of the Bad ("Teton") River, along the west shore of the Missouri River (now a Fort Pierre city park), that the Corps of Discovery met three Lakota (Brule) chiefs and their warriors. It proved to be a danger-fraught encounter that led to threats and near-bloodshed over gifts and trading procedures, probably caused or at least exacerbated by translation problems. Also in Pierre is the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center, with such items as an Arikara bullboat, a tipi, a stunning war-pony effigy, and examples of Native American beadwork. There is also a replica of the Jefferson peace medals carried by Lewis and Clark.
A state-owned wildlife preserve, located on a peninsula on the east shore of Lake Oahe, about 30 miles west of Onida, via 185th Street, and near the Lewis and Clark outward-bound campsite of October 1, 1804, as well as the return campsite of August 24, 1806. North of Onida and west of Gettysburg, off State Highway 1804 and U.S. Highway 212, is West Whitlock State Recreation Area, where a full-sized replica of an Arikara earth lodge has been constructed.
Located near the Lewis and Clark campsites of October 8-10, 1804. It was here that the first Arikara ("Rikara") village was encountered by Lewis and Clark, at the mouth of the Grand River. A smallpox epidemic in 1780–81 had already killed most of the population of perhaps originally as many as 30,000 people. By 1800 the Arikaras consisted of about 3,800 persons. Like the Pawnees, they were part of the Caddoan-language group. The quite different Siouan language group comprised a large, multitribal assemblage, including the Lakota and Dakota, Mandan, Hidatsa, Ponca, Omaha, Missouria, and Kansa tribes. A monument to Sacagawea is located on the west side of Lake Oahe near Mobridge. It is on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation (see below), about six miles west of Mobridge on U.S. Highway 12 and four miles south on South Dakota Highway 1806. Sacagawea evidently spent the last part of her relatively short life of about 25 years in the vicinity of Fort Manuel, a Missouri Fur Company post that was located in what is now Corson County, South Dakota, near the present North Dakota border. She died in December 1812, not long after giving birth to a daughter, Lizette. Although her exact burial site is unknown, it has probably been covered by Lake Oahe. After the death of his mother, Jean Baptiste spent a few years with Captain Clark in St. Louis but later traveled abroad, became a mountain man and guide, and died of pneumonia at the age of 61 in Oregon. About a hundred yards away is a huge (seven-ton) granite bust of Sitting Bull, the great Lakota chief of the Indian wars, who was reburied here in 1953 after an initial interment at Fort Yates, North Dakota. He had surrendered in 1881 and been brought to Fort Union, North Dakota, several years after fleeing to Canada with the survivors of his Hunkpapa community. Sitting Bull spent most of the period from 1883 to 1890 at the Standing Rock reservation. In 1890 he was shot and killed there, together with his son and six policemen, while he was being detained by American Indian police, having been falsely accused of fostering the messianic Ghost Dance ritual then sweeping the western plains. This episode happened a year after Dakota Territory was divided into the present states of North and South Dakota.
A federal refuge of 2,585 acres and a subimpoundment of Lake Oahe. It is a major migration staging area for waterfowl and sandhill cranes, but there is not yet a bird checklist available. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of October 12, 1804.
The enormous Cheyenne River Indian Reservation (1.4 million acres) borders the west side of Lake Oahe for much of its length, and is home to four bands of Lakotas. This reservation encompasses the Lewis and Clark campsites of October 10-12, 1804. The even larger Standing Rock Indian Reservation (2,328,534 acres), current home to some of the Dakota- and Lakota-dialect branches of the Sioux nation, continues along the west shoreline into southwestern North Dakota, north to about 25 miles beyond Fort Yates. The reservation was named for a rock that is sacred to the Arikaras and Lakotas and whose form resembles that of a seated woman. It is located across from the Agency Headquarters at Fort Yates. The reservation encompasses the Lewis and Clark outward-bound campsites of October 14-17, 1804, and the return campsites of August 20-21, 1806. There are annual summer powwows (held in July at Standing Rock, in August at Cheyenne River) and tribal bison herds. Before the Civil War all of South Dakota west of the Missouri was made part of a vast Sioux Indian reservation, but in the 1870s the federal government violated its own treaty and subdivided it. Much of this region was then taken from the Sioux, including their sacred Black Hills, where gold had been discovered during General Custer's military survey in 1874. There are still nearly 5 million acres of reservation lands in South Dakota, totaling nine reservations and supporting about 57,000 residents, counting three reservations whose boundaries extend into Nebraska or North Dakota. The Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations of southwestern South Dakota support the state's largest number of reservation members, the Oglala and Brule, both composing part of the Lakotas. Other groups live on the Cheyenne River, Standing Rock, and the Wood Mountain (in Canada) Reservations. The western Lakota group comprised seven major subgroups or tribal bands, including such famous names as the Oglala, Brule, and Hunkpapa. Under the leadership of chiefs like Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, the men of these bands took their long-awaited revenge on General Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn. The middle group included the Yankton and the Yanktonai subgroups. The major tribal subgroups of the eastern Dakotas included the Sisseton, Wahpeton, Wahpekute, and Mdewakantonwon.
An unrestored ancient Mandan village, located one mile south of Huff, near the Lewis and Clark campsite of October 19, 1804, and just off State Highway 1806. (Conveniently for aiding Lewis and Clark fans' memories, North Dakota Highway 1804 traces the expedition's 1804 outward-bound route along the east and north side of the Missouri River. Highway 1806 similarly follows the expedition's return route in 1806, along the south and west side of the river. This same highway numbering arrangement also applies to South Dakota.)
This state park is seven miles south of Mandan on State Highway 1806. Nearby is the partially restored On-A-Slant Indian Village, an ancient Mandan site occupied at the mouth of the Heart River for two centuries, or until about 1740, and supporting a maximum population about 1,500 Mandans. By 1764 the villagers had moved north to join the Hidatsas near the Knife River. At the time of Lewis and Clark, the entire Mandan tribe numbered perhaps 3,600 people, as compared with about 2,500 Hidatsas (or Minitari; the "Minnetaree" of Lewis and Clark). Compared with the Mandans, the Hidatsas were relatively fierce, often fighting at the extreme western end of their range with the Shoshones. In one of these encounters they captured Sacagawea, then still only about ten years old. Smallpox struck the Upper Missouri tribes in 1837, when it was brought upstream by an American Fur Company supply ship, further reducing the Mandan population to only about 150. Four full-sized Mandan earth lodges have been reconstructed, and there is evidence of 75 ancient lodge sites. There is also a visitor center with Mandan cultural objects and replicas of some Lewis and Clark items. During the Indian wars of the 1870s, Gen. George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Calvary were stationed here prior to their ill-fated military campaign of 1876. The fort was built in 1872 and was abandoned in 1891 after the Indian wars, but many buildings have been reconstructed. Located eight miles south of Mandan, on State Highway 1806, it is near the Lewis and Clark outward-bound campsite of October 20, 1804, which was used again during the return phase of the expedition on August 18, 1806. From about this point north to the Garrison Dam there are nearly 100 miles of fairly free-flowing river. Camping is permitted at the state park.
This unrestored Mandan village, seven miles north of Bismarck on State Highway 1804, dates back to about 1500, and was abandoned after a smallpox epidemic in the early 1780s. There is a self-guided walk. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of October 22, 1804.
This 6,000-acre Nature Conservancy preserve is located about ten miles south of Washburn, off State Highway 200a, or six miles southeast of Hensler. It is largely comprised of mixed-grass prairie, with bison and other typical high plainswildlife. A bird checklist of 147 species is available for the preserve. Species occurring here that were observed by Lewis and Clark while they were in the Great Plains include the sharp-tailed grouse, wild turkey, red-headed woodpecker, black-billed magpie, and western meadowlark. Over 100 species of wild- flowers are known to occur at the preserve, and there is a nine-mile hiking and nature trail. There is also a captive bison herd. Ancient sites of Mandan and Minitari villages are also present. Located near the Lewis and Clark outwardbound campsite of October 24, 1804, and the return campsite of August 17, 1806. The nearby Cross Ranch State Park encompasses 589 acres. Camping is permitted in the state park.
Located about eight miles southeast of Stanton on State Highway Alt 200. Fort Clark was built in 1830 to help serve a Mandan village that had been established in 1822. The village was abandoned after a smallpox epidemic in 1837 but was reoccupied from 1838 to 1860 by the Arikaras. There are some remains of the fort visible, which burned in 1861, as well as those of an earth-lodge village, and a burial ground.
Fort Mandan Historic Site is located 2.5 miles west of Washburn on North Dakota County Road 17, close to the junction of U.S. Highway 83 and State Highway 100a, and 1.5 miles west of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The Interpretive Center has a cottonwood dugout canoe of the type used by Lewis and Clark, as well as other items similar to those used by the expedition. The original Fort Mandan was built a few miles southeast of present-day Stanton, on the northeast side of the Missouri River, and close to three Hidatsa (two Minitari, one Amahami) and two Mandan villages. The fort was largely destroyed by a prairie fire before the expedition's return in 1806. When the expedition returned in mid-August of 1806, Sacagawea (the preferred North Dakota spelling is Sakakawea, based on the original Hidatsa), her son, and Charbonneau all remained behind, as did John Coulter. Coulter later became one of the West's most famous mountain men. Charbonneau remained with the Mandans and Hidatsas for most of his long life, serving in part as an interpreter and also acting as a guide to Prince Maximilian in the 1830s. There is a Fort Mandan Overlook State Historic Site 11.5 miles west of Washburn on State Highway 200a that provides a view of the actual fort's vicinity. A reconstruction of original Fort Mandan has been erected on a 30-acre site about ten miles downstream from the expedition's actual 1804-5 wintering site. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn emphasizes the winter of 1804–5 that the Corps spent at Fort Mandan and features a complete set of Karl Bodmer prints depicting the Upper Missouri region and its inhabitants during the 1830s. The McLean County Historical Society Museum on Washburn's Main Street also has some Lewis and Clark displays. On the north side of Lake Sakakawea (three miles south of Garrison) is Fort Stevenson State Park, with some expedition exhibits. The eastern end of the lake (east of U.S. Highway 83) is Audubon National Wildlife Refuge (see below).
Located on State Highway 31, one-half mile north of Stanton, and in the general vicinity of the expedition's wintering site at Fort Mandan in 1804–5 and their return campsites of August 13–16, 1806. A bird checklist of 212 species is available, and there is a nature trail. Species occurring here that were observed by Lewis and Clark while in the Great Plains include the Canada goose, sharptailed grouse, wild turkey, piping plover, black-billed magpie, and loggerhead shrike. The five villages at this site once held a maximum of 3,000 to 5,000 Mandans and Hidatsas, and it was at one of them (the upstream Hidatsa village) that Sacagawea was living with Charbonneau at the time of Lewis and Clark's visit. There is archeological evidence of some 9,000 years of occupation of the site. Near the visitor center is a reconstructed Hidatsa earth lodge, and there are also the remains of at least 60 ancient earth lodges, abandoned around 1780 following a smallpox epidemic. The largest site, the 15-acre Big Hidatsa Village (also known as the Upper Minitari village or Olds archeological site), is a National Historic Landmark. It contains the remains of more than 100 earth lodges and countless bone fragments from bison and other animals. A Northern Plains Indian Culture Fest is held here annually in late July. A United Tribes International Powwow is also held annually in Bismarck, usually during the weekend following Labor Day.
This large federal refuge of 14,735 acres surrounds and includes a subimpoundment of Lake Sakakawea (10,421 acres). It lies about ten miles to the east of the Lewis and Clark campsites of April 7-8, 1805. There is a species checklist of 239 birds, 37 mammals, 5 reptiles, 3 amphibians, and 37 fish. Bird species occurring here that were observed by Lewis and Clark in the Great Plains include the American white pelican, American bittern, sharp-tailed grouse, American avocet, willet, horned lark, and western meadowlark. Mammals occurring in the area and that were evidently also seen by Lewis and Clark include the thirteen-lined and Richardson's ground squirrels, coyote, northern pocket gopher, and white-tailed jackrabbit. Pronghorns are sometimes common. Blinds are available for nature observation and photography, and there is an eight-mile interpretive trail. About 15 miles east of Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, to the east of Turtle Lake, is the John E. Williams Nature Preserve, with several alkali lakes and one of the largest populations of piping plovers in the country.
This very large reservation (about 1 million acres) occupies much of both sides of Lake Sakakawea, which has impounded 368,000 acres and has 1,600 miles of shoreline. It is home to the Arikaras, Hidatsas (Minitaris), and Mandans, all well known to Lewis and Clark. Fort Berthold was built in 1845 by the American Fur Company as a trading post, to be near the Mandan and Hidatsa villages then being established about 60 river miles upstream from Fort Mandan. The reservation encompasses the Lewis and Clark campsites of April 10-15, 1805. Near the north end of the reservation and 11 miles west of New Town on U.S. Highway 23 is Four Bears Park. A reservation museum (the Three Tribes Museum) near New Town is run by the Three Affiliated Tribes. It details the history of the Arikaras, Mandans, and Hidatsas, including their encounters with Lewis and Clark, and features a reconstructed full-sized earth lodge. Three miles south of New Town on North Dakota Highway 23 is Crow Flies High Butte Historic Site and associated exhibits. The top of this butte provides a panoramic view of the nearby badlands and upland topography; the river valley itself is now entirely impounded. The butte is named for a Hidatsa chief who founded a nearby village. It was approximately at this point that Captain Lewis and his party finally caught up with Captain Clark's group during the return phase of the expedition, on August 12, 1806. There are annual powwows at the Fort Berthold Reservation during June, July, and August.
The northern section of the grassland is located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of April 15, 1805. It is only part of a vast region (1,027,852 acres) of federally owned shortgrass prairies and badlands that in part extend to the south shore of Lake Sakakawea. This relatively small section is located generally to the north of Keene and is best reached by taking State Highway 1806 east and north from Watford City. A larger section of this enormous national grassland, the largest federally owned grassland in the United States, lies along the Little Missouri River. It is headquartered in Dickinson. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (70,416 acres) is located in two separate sections within this larger unit of the grassland. There bighorn sheep and other large ungulates familiar to Lewis and Clark may sometimes be seen. These grasslands and eroded badlands also provide habitat for a wide array of other high plains mammals and birds. A checklist of 286 bird species occurring in southwestern North Dakota (including the entire region southwest of the Missouri River) has been compiled by Terry Rich. Several of these species were originally discovered by Lewis and Clark, including the greater sage-grouse, common poor-will, and McCown's longspur. Golden eagles and prairie falcons are also regular nesters here. A comparable list of 50 mammal species occurring in the same general region has been produced by Robert Seabloom and others. It includes several species that were discovered by Lewis and Clark, such as the white-tailed jackrabbit, black-tailed prairie dog, bushy-tailed woodrat, swift fox, and mule deer. Camping is permitted on both units of the national grassland.
A park of 490 acres, located about 20 miles east of Williston off State Highway 1806, and near the Lewis and Clark campsite of April 17, 1805. Camping is permitted. The Lewis and Clark Wildlife Management Area encompasses a nearby large area of riverine lowlands and wetlands. It is located at the upper end of Lake Sakakawea and is about five miles southwest of Williston via U.S. Highway 85. There is a larger-than-life bronze statue of Sacagawea and her infant son on the state capitol grounds in Bismarck, as well as a North Dakota Heritage Center in the capitol building itself. It houses regional natural history as well as some Sacagawea lore and general expedition information.
This site (24 miles southwest of Williston on State Highway 1804) is located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of April 26, 1805. Fort Union (built in 1828) has been accurately recreated since 1966 on a 443-acre site, with reconstructed walls, bastions, and a trade house. The Bourgeois House serves as a museum and visitor center. This trading post was built by John J. Astor's American Fur Company in 1828, and remained active until 1867. It was 1,776 river miles from St. Louis and a major frontier fur-trading center. There is a bird checklist of 138 species. Two rather rare mixed-grass-prairie bird species, the Sprague's pipit and Baird's sparrow, were both discovered here by John J. Audubon about four decades after Lewis and Clark passed through. The Fort Union Trading Post site is near the Fort Burford State Historic Site (see below), and both were built close to the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, where Fort Williams was also built in 1832. The Fort Union Trading Post was the largest in the American West, and was often visited by Native Americans representing the Crows, Crees, Blackfoot, Assiniboine, and Hunkpapa Sioux (the Lakota branch that was led into the Custer battle by Sitting Bull). It also hosted such illustrious visitors as George Catlin (1830), Karl Bodmer and Prince Maximilian (1833), and Audubon (1842).
Located six miles west, 14 miles southwest, and one mile south of Williston on State Highway 1804. This fort replaced the rather short-lived Fort Williams in 1866. There are only a few remnants of Fort Burford still visible, including the stone powder magazine, the Officer of the Day building, a restored field officer's quarters that is now a museum, and a military cemetery. It was to Fort Burford that Chief Joseph was brought with 400 of his Nez Percé tribe after their failed attempt to escape into Canada, and Fort Burford is also where Sitting Bull surrendered in 1881 after returning with his 187 surviving Hunkpapa Sioux followers (mostly women and children) from Canada. There is a newly constructed Confluence Area Interpretive Center at Fort Burford that deals with early exploration of the Upper Missouri region. Camping is permitted.
This enormous reservation (2,093,124 acres) was established in 1888 and is home to the Lower Assiniboine and some Sioux (Yanktonai, Oglala, and Hunkpapa) tribes. It was named for a trading post now flooded by Fort Peck Reservoir. Several annual powwows are open to the public. Located along the Lewis and Clark campsites of April 30-May 7, 1805.
A vast shortgrass prairie-and-badlands federal refuge, the third largest in the United States. It consists of 1,094,301 acres on both sides of Fort Peck Reservoir, once 125 river miles. It encompasses the now-impounded Lewis and Clark campsites of May 7-24, 1805. The refuge has a bird checklist of 252 species and a list of over 40 mammal species. Birds breeding here that were observed by Lewis and Clark while they were in the Great Plains include the golden eagle, greater sage-grouse, long-billed curlew, American avocet, willet, common poor-will, and black-billed magpie. Large mammals include pronghorns, mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, and bighorns. Smaller mammals that are present and were discovered by Lewis and Clark include the black-tailed prairie dog, bushy-tailed woodrat, and white-tailed jackrabbit. There are an estimated 4,500 acres of prairie-dog towns, providing potential habitat for critically endangered black-footed ferrets, which have been released here in a restoration effort. One major access route to the western part of the refuge is possible by traveling northeast from Lewiston for 67 miles via U.S. Highway 191. Interior refuge roads are unimproved and often impassable for most vehicles. Camping is permitted. Along the mouth of the Musselshell River is the UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge (so-named for the river's meandering course there), which is continuous with the C. M. Russell NWR and is administered by it. The UL Bend NWR is even more remote than the C. M. Russell refuge. It encompasses the Lewis and Clark campsites of May 19-21, 1805.
This undeveloped recreation area (named after an early Indian Affairs agent who was a great friend of the northern tribes) is located off U.S. Highway 191 near the western end of C. M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, and at the east end of the federally designated Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River segment. It also provides an access point for the Upper Missouri Breaks National Back Country Byway. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of May 24, 1805. Camping is permitted.
This is a 149-mile stretch of free-flowing river, extending downstream from Fort Benton to U.S. Highway 191 and Kipp State Park. It flows through the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument. The castlelike sandstone formations found here (the famous "White Cliffs") rise 200 to 300 feet above the river and comprise the most spectacularly beautiful part of the entire Missouri river system. They remain much as they were when Lewis and Clark saw them, and as they were painted three decades later by Karl Bodmer in 1833. They extend from near the mouth of the Marias River east for about 40 air miles or 55 river miles and are not visible by normal land access. A scenic area of similar length called the Missouri River Badlands occurs downstream. An 81-mile road loop starting and ending at Winfred is called the Missouri Breaks National Back Country Byway, but this unimproved road is suitable only for high-clearance vehicles during good weather. About nine miles west of the mouth of the Judith River, and about 1.5 miles downstream from the mouth of Arrow Creek ("Slaughter Creek" of Lewis and Clark), is the site of the buffalo jump described by Lewis and Clark, where they found more than a hundred dead bison, the animals having been stampeded by Native Americans off the brink of the steep cliffs. There is a local bird checklist of 233 species, including many of the same species that are found in the Charles M. Russell NWR. It encompasses the Lewis and Clark campsites of May 24-June 13, 1805.
At this point the expedition halted, and spent the period from June 2 to June 12 trying to establish whether the rather muddy northwestern fork or the clearer southwestern fork represented the Missouri River. Assuming that clear water meant that the southwestern stream must be coming from nearby mountains, they eventually made the proper choice and called the other stream "Maria's River," later simplified to the Marias River. They left the area in search of the Great Falls on June 12, leaving behind the larger pirogue and a cache of supplies that they planned to retrieve during the return phase. Thirteen months later, the pirogue was found to have rotted, and some of the stored materials had been flooded and destroyed, including many of the preserved plant specimens.
A 12,383-acre marsh-and-wetland federal refuge situated 14 miles north of Great Falls. Go north from Great Falls on U.S. Highway 87 and turn left on State Highway 225 to reach the refuge entrance. The refuge's bird checklist includes 199 species and is particularly rich in wetland birds. Species breeding here that were observed by Lewis and Clark while in the Great Plains include the long-billed curlew, American avocet, willet, black-billed magpie, western meadowlark, and McCown's longspur. Nearby Fort Benton has a Wild and Scenic Upper Missouri Visitor Center and also a larger-than-life-size statue of Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea, and her son, Jean Baptiste.
A 216-acre state park with one of the largest freshwater springs in the world. Located near the Lewis and Clark camps and portage sites of late June 1805. Nearby is Sulfur Springs, whose mineral-rich waters reputedly saved Sacagawea's life from a life-threatening illness. The Giant Springs were discovered by Captain Clark on June 18, 1805, and still produce a vast output of nearly 400 million gallons of water daily. They also represent the downstream end of the portage around Great Falls, historically a nine-mile series of five separate falls and intervening rapids, the falls representing a collective vertical height of nearly 200 feet. At the upper end of this long (18-mile) portage around the falls were several islands named the White Bear Islands by Lewis and Clark because of the numerous grizzly bears they found there. During the outward-bound phase of the expedition, 11 days (June 21 to July 2, 1804) were needed for the overland route; on the return phase only eight days were needed, as horses were then available for hauling. Also located at the state park is the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center, operated by the U.S. Forest Service and home to the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.
A 170-acre state park with a mile-long "piskun," a place where bison were stampeded into confined corrals or forced to jump from steep cliffs. This is probably the largest reported such site in the United States, and has a 30-foot cliff-face. A captive bison herd is present. Located about five miles west of the Great Falls airport and in the general vicinity of the Lewis and Clark campsites of July 10-14, 1805.
Includes a reservoir (Holter Lake) surrounded by the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness and Beartooth State Game Range. The entire area collectively covers about 18,000 acres. Captain Lewis gave this part of the river its present evocative name, "Gates of the Rocky Mountains." Located near the Lewis and Clark campsites of July 18-20, 1805. Holter Dam has raised the river's water level about 100 feet and is one of three dams in the region (the others are Hauser and Canyon Ferry) that have collectively produced a nearly continuous 70-mile impoundment. Nearby, along Prickly Pear Creek, is where Lewis first briefly observed Lewis's woodpecker, which he later (May 27, 1806) described in detail from a specimen shot in Idaho. Camping is permitted.
A 3,500-acre state park and wildlife area surrounding Canyon Ferry Reservoir. Located along the Lewis and Clark campsites of July 20-27, 1805. Camping is permitted in the state park.
A 527-acre state park at the confluence of the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson Rivers. Located near the Lewis and Clark campsite of July 27-30, 1805. The site was first recognized by Lewis and Clark as representing the primary origin of the Missouri River, although the actual snowmelt headwaters derive from many small sources high in the mountains. Captain Clark and his group were the first members of the expedition to arrive at the headwaters on July 25 and were followed by the rest of the group on July 27. The entire expedition remained there until July 30, when they began the ascent up the Jefferson and Beaverhead Rivers, followed by challenging the Rocky Mountains themselves. The same campsite was used by Captain Clark and his contingent during the return trip on July 13, 1806. The state park has interpretive exhibits with information on Lewis and Clark. Camping is permitted. Also near Three Forks is Madison Buffalo Jump State Park.
Located near the Yellowstone River, 28 miles east of Billings, and off Exit 23 from I-94. This 200-foot sandstone promontory was named "Pompy's Tower" by Captain Clark after Sacagawea's son, Jean Baptiste (Pompy) Charbonneau, then about 18 months old. Clark's dated, carved signature is still visible in the soft rock. Located between the Clark campsites of July 25 and 26, 1806. Nearby is the Pompey's Pillar Visitor Center.