Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

Audio Availability: loading...

Total Audio Length: loading...

OVERVIEW: About this Audio-Described Brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail's official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that is available at more than 90 locations along the National Historic Trail. The brochure explores the network of historic and cultural sites that tell the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition across North America. This audio version lasts about 60 minutes. The content has been divided into sections, to facilitate navigation and improve the listening experience. The front page features a timeline of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and 4 short essays: They Journed On, The Corps of Discovery, to the Shore of the Pacific, and Return to St. Louis. The back page features a large map of the 4,900 mile long trail and short features on Tribal nations. 

Printed brochure details: The brochure is 12 panels wide. Unfolded the brochure is: 48 inches wide by 8.25 inches tall. The brochure folds into size: 4 inches by 8.25 inches, the standard size of National Park Service Unigrid brochures.

A note about pronunciations. Lewis and Clark frequently misspelled words. To facilitate a smooth listening experience, some quotes from the expedition have been corrected for spelling.  

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail spans 4,900-miles, crossing 16 states, and the homelands of more than 60 Tribal nations. This National Historic Trail is managed by the National Park Service, within the Department of the Interior. Established in 1978, this National Historic Trail is charged with commemorating and protecting the historic route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803-1806. This trail is not a simple path. Rather, it is a network of historic and cultural sites which each tell a chapter of the expedition's story. 

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is for everyone. We invite you to take in the bustling cities of Pittsburgh and St. Louis, milestones to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Take a hike through golden grasses of the Great Plains, where Lewis and Clark observed endless heards of bison. Follow the expedition's course along the cold, clear, rushing rivers. Hear waves crashing and feel the cold fog along the Oregon and Washington coast. 

Tactile maps of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail are available at more than 30 locations across the trail. For kids and the young at heart, a free Junior Ranger activity program is available at more than 35 locations across the trail. This program features audio described read along videos. To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the Lewis and Clark Trail staff directly, visit the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: Front Side of Brochure

The front side features the iconic "black bar" title header which is standard for all National Park Service brochures. This title reads, Lewis and Clark Trail. National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. National Park Service logo. 

This front page features a large timeline, which begins on the left and runs across the top of the entire 48-inch-wide brochure. The timeline follows the Lewis and Clark Expedition from their first instructions from President Thomas Jefferson, through their journey West to the Pacific Ocean, and their return back to St. Louis. This timeline is formatted in a collage style. There are two main background images: Missouri River on the left and Columbia River gorge on the right. The layout features small images--including photographs of artifacts, historic paintings, and drawings from the Lewis and Clark Journals, with captions and text.

Running along the bottom of this side of the brochure are four short essays, also with images wrapped within the text.

↑ back to top


IMAGE 1 of 4: Portrait of Thomas Jefferson.

DESCRIBING: Small painting. 

SYNOPSIS: Portrait painting of Thomas Jefferson as President of the United States. The image is a front profile with only his head, neck, and half of his shoulders visible. His appearance is confident without a facial expression, he is middle-aged Caucasian male with neatly arranged gray hair and he is dressed in a dark suit with a white dress shirt that covers his neckline.

CAPTION: President Thomas Jefferson



1803. President Thomas Jefferson  picks Meriwether Lewis to lead an expedition through the Northwest and gives him the following instructions:

“The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river, & such principal stream of it, as, by it’s course and communication with the waters of the Pacific ocean, whether the Columbia, Oregan, Colorado or any other river may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent for the purposes of commerce.”

IMAGE 2 of 4: Louisiana Territory map

DESCRIBING: small map of United States. 

SYNOPSIS: Map of United States in as we know it today. It is marked to show the boundary of the Louisiana Purchase, which is a massive area, about one-third of the United State's land mass covering a great portion of the Midwest and Rocky Mountains from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The map is divided into three colors: a light gray color covers the boundary of the United States in 1803, an olive color shades the area of the Louisiana Purchase, and white covers the western portion of what will become the United States. The Louisiana Purchase spanned from present day Canadian U.S. border, down to the Gulf of Mexico, and stretched West from the Mississippi and Missouri River into the Rocky Mountains. 

CAPTION: Lewis and Clark would explore parts of the Louisiana Territory.



Summer 1803

Lewis invites William Clark to join the expedition and share the command. The news of the Louisiana Purchase is announced. Lewis orders a large keelboat to be constructed in the Pittsburgh area.

IMAGE 3 of 4: Meriwether Lewis portrait.

DESCRIBING: Small oval painted portrait.

SYNOPSIS: Painting of Meriwether Lewis. He is a Caucasian male in his mid thirties, well dressed, with a white shirt coming up high to his chin, and a black suit coat with tall collar. He faces to the left. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Lewis' prominent feature is a long, sharply angled nose. He has a somewhat narrow face and eyes set closely together. He has honey colored hair cut medium length, with a few wisps hanging in the front.  Background of painting has been removed.

CAPTION: Capt. Meriwether Lewis US Army officer Born August 18, 1774


IMAGE 4 of 4: William Clark Portrait

DESCRIBING: Small oval painted portrait 

SYNOPSIS: William Clark faces to the right. He is well dressed with a white shirt and tie that come up to his chin and a black jacket. He is a Caucasian male in his mid to late thirties. His prominent feature is a thick head of reddish hair. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Compared to Lewis, Clark's nose and jaw are a bit thicker and more squared off. 

CAPTION: Capt. William Clark US Army officer Born August 1, 1770



Fall 1803

Lewis meets Clark at the Falls of the Ohio. Congress ratifies the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the nation’s size. Lewis and Clark establish Camp River Dubois on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, where they prepare the men for a spring departure.

↑ back to top


IMAGE 1 of 4: Medal

DESCRIBING: photo of Peace Medal without background

SYNPOSIS: A dark round metal medal featuring Thomas Jefferson's left side profile. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Jefferson's profile shows a man with a prominent brow, pointed nose, and strong jawline. His long hair falls loosely, though most of it at the back is secured with a tie. He is wearing a coat with tall lapel, a ruffled shirt can be seen on his chest just within the flap of this coat. The words TH JEFFERSON PRESIDENT OF US AD 1801 is printed along the outer edge of the medal. A small metal eye is melded at the top for stringing the medal.  

CAPTION: Peace medals like this were given to various American Indian leaders to establish friendly relations.



May 14, 1804. Expedition crosses the Mississippi and “proceeded on under a jentle brease up the Missourie.”

July 4. Expedition marks first 4th of July west of the Mississippi by firing the keelboat’s cannon and naming Independence Creek near present-day Atchison, KS.

August 3. Corps holds first official council between US representatives and Otoe-Missouria Tribe near present-day Fort Atkinson State Park, NE.

August 20. Near present-day Sioux City, IA, Sgt. Charles Floyd dies of an unknown illness. Captains name the hilltop where he is buried “Floyd’s Bluff” and a nearby stream “Floyd’s River.”

August 30. Friendly council held with Yankton Sioux.

IMAGE 2 of 4: two guns

DESCRIBING: two small photos of two historic guns

SYNOPSIS: An air gun and a modified militia rifle. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The guns are shown one above the other. The top gun, air gun is black with what appears to be a wooden base and metal trigger. The gun features a long shaft, at least three times the length of the base. The bottom gun, the modified militia rifle, features nearly the same proportions. It is wooden with gold brass at the tip and base. 

CAPTION: Among the weapons Lewis and Clark took with them were 15 modified 1792 and 1795 militia rifles obtained from the Harpers Ferry arsenal and an air gun Lewis bought in Philadelphia that fired 40 rounds before reloading.


IMAGE 3 of 4: Prairie dog

DESCRIBING: drawing of a prairie dog

SYNOPSIS: A hand drawn image of a small mammal called a prairie dog. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: On his thick back legs with small feet sticking out below, the prairie dog sits upright in a neutral pose, front paws meeting in front of his belly, a short tail sticks out to the right. His two small eyes sit near the top of his face with a short pointed nose with a downturned mouth and a few whiskers poking out in different directions.  

CAPTION: Lewis called prairie dogs “barking squirrels” because of the sound they made when approached. In all, Lewis and Clark wrote the first reports on 122 animals previously unknown to western science.



September 7. The men successfully flush a prairie dog out of its hole for shipment back to Jefferson.

IMAGE 4 of 4: Painted Bufalo Skin

DESCRIBING: photo of painted animal skin with no background

SYNOPSIS:  This complete mammal animal skin is oriented with head to the left, very short tail to the right, appendages spread creating a large square canvas almost completely covered with drawings on the skin side. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The scene depicts members of four tribes battling each other, dozens of individuals are shown in different postures and stances, some on horseback, some wielding weapons. The individual characters are difficult to distinguish on the small image without magnification. The entire artwork is in tones of browns, oranges and blacks against a cream background. 

CAPTION: Animal skin depicting Sioux and Arikaras battling Mandans and Hidatsas. Lewis and Clark acquired the skin during their stay with the Mandans and sent it back to President Jefferson in April 1805.


September 25

Misunderstanding with Teton Sioux leads to a confrontation that is resolved peaceably by Chief Black Buffalo. Expedition stays with tribe for three more days.

October 24

Expedition encounters earthlodge villages of the Mandan and Hidatsa. Captains decide to build Fort Mandan across the river from the main village.

November 4

Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian fur trapper living with the Hidatsa, is hired as an interpreter. His wife Sacagawea, a Shoshone, is instrumental as a translator and in obtaining horses from the Shoshones.

December 24

Fort Mandan is completed, and the expedition moves in. Mandans provide food and other sustenance during the brutally cold winter.

↑ back to top


IMAGE 1 of 6: Bear

DESCRIBING: line drawing of a grizzly bear.

SYNOPSIS: The bear stands and faces right, with its head turned to the viewer. The drawing shows the grizzly bear's distinctive shoulder hump, dished in face, and small round ears. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Dense hashmarks by the artist reveal the texture of the bear's fur. 

CAPTION: The “very large and terrible” grizzly bears were an occasional threat to the expedition



February 11, 1805. Sacagawea gives birth to a boy, Jean Baptiste, who travels to the Pacific and back.

April 7. Lewis and Clark send the keelboat and 12 men back downriver with maps, reports, American Indian artifacts, and scientific specimens for Jefferson. The permanent party of 33 heads west.

April 29. Lewis and another hunter kill a large grizzly bear, a species previously unknown to western science.

May 29–30. Clark names the Judith River in honor of Julia (Judy) Hancock, a girl in Virginia he hopes to marry. Lewis classifies the White Cliffs area as another of the never-ending “scenes of visionary enchantment” encountered on the journey.

June 3. Expedition reaches a fork in the river. Most of the men believe the north fork, now the Marias River, to be the continuation of the Missouri. Captains choose the south fork. Lewis later writes that, while the men are not convinced that he and Clark have made the right choice, “they were ready to follow us any where we thought proper to direct.”

IMAGE 2 of 6: Clark's journal entry

DESCRIBING: small photo of early 1800s journal page.

SYNOPSIS: Photo of a journal page with timeworn handwritten notes. A drawing of a section of the Missouri River and Rainbow Falls taking up most of the page with text surrounding the drawing. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The drawing appears scientific rather than artistic and includes measurements and arrows to depict the directional flow of water. Dense script fills the page. A red book cover reveals itself behind the pages. 

CAPTION: Page from Clark’s journal describing the “Handsom falls of the Missouri” (now Rainbow Falls), downriver of Great Falls



June 13. Scouting ahead of the rest of the expedition, Lewis reaches the Great Falls of the Missouri. He also discovers four more waterfalls farther upstream. The expedition’s 18-mile portage around the falls takes nearly a month.

July. Lewis assembles his iron-frame boat above the Great Falls, but it sinks and is abandoned. Expedition reaches the Three Forks of the Missouri River and names them after Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin, Secretary of State James Madison, and President Thomas Jefferson. Expedition continues to the southwest, up the Jefferson.

IMAGE 3 of 6: Rock

DESCRIBING: Photo of Beaverhead Rock

SYNOPSIS: Colorful horizontal image of Beaverhead Rock landmark. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: A flat grassy area meets a large blunt faced mountain with a connecting ridgeline behind the peak. The nature of the rock feature sloping gently from the left then dropping dramatically on the right gives its namesake resemblance to the head of a beaver. The rock formation appears to lack trees as you can see the light brown color of Beaverhead Rock. There are a few trees scattered at the foot of Beaverhead Rock. 

CAPTION: Beaverhead Rock



August 8. Sacagawea recognizes Beaverhead Rock and says they are nearing the homeland of her people, the Shoshones. Lewis and three others scout ahead.

August 12. Lewis crosses Lemhi Pass expecting to find the direct water route to the Pacific that he and Jefferson were seeking but discovers only more and more mountains ahead, creating what he called a “snowy barrier” to the Pacific.

IMAGE 4 of 6: Boat drawing

DESCRIBING: historic drawing of keelboat.

SYNOPSIS: Black and yellowish-brown sketch of a keelboat by Captain Clark. The drawing is a schematic, depicting the boat from above. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The boat is long and narrow like banana with a pointed knob tip to the left side and a blunt back with a short skinny protruding rod to the right side. There are 10 lines across a rectangle running down the center of the boat to represent seats. For each seat, is a pair of paddles to each side for each rower.  

CAPTION: Clark’s drawing of a keelboat


IMAGE 5 of 6: Plant

DESCRIBING: background image of plant

SYNOPSIS: naturalist drawing of plant, appearing faintly in the background.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Two stalks of a plant. One has four flowers or leaves, each with three lobes. The rest of the plant is thin and spindly with narrow leaves. 

CAPTION: The ragged robin, Clarkia pulchella, one of 178 plants new to western science that Lewis collected and named



August 15–17. Shoshones lead Lewis to their village, where he negotiates for horses. After Clark and the rest of the expedition arrive, Sacagawea meets her brother, Cameahwait, one of the Shoshone leaders. Camp Fortunate is established. On August 20, an elderly Shoshone agrees to lead the expedition across the Bitterroot Mountains to the headwaters of the Columbia.

September 11. After breaking camp south of present-day Missoula, MT, the expedition ascends into the Bitterroots, which Sergeant Patrick Gass calls “the most terrible mountains I ever beheld.” A week later, with food running out, the men are forced to eat three colts and a stray horse. Clark names a nearby stream “Hungery Creek” to describe their condition.

September 22. Nearing starvation, the expedition emerges from the Bitterroots near today’s Weippe, ID, where their lives are spared by a Nez Perce woman, Watkuweis. They are fed and cared for by the Nez Perce.

October 16. Expedition reaches the confluence of the Columbia and Snake rivers, and Clark notes a dense population of tribes.

October 31. Clark sees Beacon Rock and first sign of tidal water, indicating they are near the ocean.

November 7. Clark, who believes he can see the ocean, pens his most famous journal entry: “Ocian in view! O! the joy.” The expedition is still a considerable distance from the sea, which Lewis finally reaches on November 15. Terrible storms halt the expedition for nearly three weeks.

IMAGE 6 of 6: Fish

DESCRIBING: drawing of a salmon

SYNOPSIS: drawing by Captain Clark of a salmon.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The salmon is pictured facing left. The drawing is scientific, a flat diagram-like drawing. The fish shows a classic fish body plan, with a non-forked tail fin and a dorsal fin halfway down its back. Clark's cross hatching drawing technique shades the top of the fish darker than the belly. 

CAPTION: Salmon were, and still are, a fundamental part of the cultural and spiritual identity of Columbia Basin tribes. Drawing from Clark’s journal.



November 24

Members of the expedition, including York and Sacagawea, vote to set up winter quarters on the south side of the Columbia River where the Clatsop told them they would find plenty of elk for food and clothing.

December 8

Construction of Fort Clatsop as winter quarters begins. The fort, says Clark, is built of the “straightest and most beautiful-est logs.” The fort is named after the local tribe.

↑ back to top


IMAGE 1 of 2: Clark's Nutcracker and Lewis's Woodpecker

DESCRIBING: small colored Naturalist drawings of a Clark's Nutcracker and a Lewis's woodpecker, cut out with no background. 

SYNOPSIS:  Two drawings. Clark's Nutcracker, a bird with a robust body, not unlike a crow stands and looks over its right shoulder. Lewis's woodpecker perched on a branch. 

The Clark's nutcracker has distinctive jet black wings, a black bill, and black legs, which are all contrasted by a creamy gray head, shoulders, and chest. The bird is striking combination of coral, red, white and black. 

The woodpecker has a coral red eye mask, surrounded by a blueish black crown of feathers. It has a creamy pink throat and neck, a coral belly, and blueish black back and tail. It perches on the branch as woodpeckers do, with feet out in front so it can climb the side of the tree and face it with its powerful bill.

CAPTION: Two of the 134 bird species they sighted are named for the explorers: Clark’s nutcracker, first seen in Idaho. Lewis’s woodpecker, sighted in Montana.



January 5, 1806. A saltmaking camp is established 15 miles southwest of Fort Clatsop. An essential dietary supplement, salt is also needed to preserve meat on the return trip.

March 23. With little ceremony, the Corps of Discovery departs Fort Clatsop and begins its long journey home.

May–June. Expedition reaches the Bitterroots but must wait for the snow to melt before crossing. For the time being, the expedition again stays with the Nez Perce, whom Lewis considers “the most hospitable, honest and sincere people that we have met with in our voyage.”

IMAGE 2 of 2: Sandstone carving of Clark's Signature.

DESCRIBING: Small photo of a carving in stone. 

SYNOPSIS: Photo of inscription in rock. In cursive, the inscription reads W Clark. July 25th.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Upon closer inspection, a small "m" is carved to the upper right of the capitol W, to denote William. The tan sandstone looks worn and rugged with possible markings of other carvings. 

CAPTION: Clark’s signature, engraved in sandstone at Pompeys Pillar, is still visible today.



July 3. Expedition recovers horses left in the care of the Nez Perce the previous fall and buys more. Thanks to these horses and Nez Perce guides, the expedition successfully crosses the Bitterroots. Once across the mountains, they break into smaller groups to explore more of the Louisiana Territory. Clark and his group travel down the Yellowstone River, while Lewis and his group take the shortcut to the Great Falls and then head north along the Marias River.

July 25. Near present-day Billings, MT, Clark names a sandstone outcropping “Pompy’s Tower” after Sacagawea’s son, nicknamed Little Pomp. On the rock face, now known as Pompeys Pillar, Clark inscribes his own name and the date.

July 26. On their way back to the Missouri from exploring the Marias, Lewis’ party encounters eight young Piegan Blackfeet. The two groups camp together warily. The following morning the Blackfeet attempt to steal the explorers’ horses and guns. In the resulting fight—the only act of bloodshed during the entire expedition—two Blackfeet are killed.

August 11

Lewis is accidentally wounded in the buttocks by Pierre Cruzatte while hunting just east of present-day Williston, ND. He survives and proceeds on. The next day the entire expedition is reunited farther downstream.

August 14

Expedition reaches the Mandan villages, where Charbonneau, Sacagawea, and Jean Baptiste say goodbye. She-he-ke-shote, a Mandan, agrees to accompany the expedition to Washington, DC, to meet President Jefferson.


Speeding home with the Missouri’s current, they cover up to 70 miles a day, stopping only to pay their respects at the grave of Charles Floyd, their only casualty.

September 23

After two years and four months, Lewis and Clark reach St. Louis where, according to Lewis, they “received the heartiest and most hospitable welcome from the whole village.”

↑ back to top


IMAGE 1 of 1: sage grouse

DESCRIBING: small drawing of a bird

SYNOPSIS: Clark's drawing depicts a plump bird facing left. It has a long tail that stretches outward. The bird has thick legs.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Clark's cross hatched shading is apparent on closer inspection. 

CAPTION: Clark’s drawing of a sage grouse



Fall 1806. Upon their return to Washington, Lewis and Clark are treated as heroes. The men receive double pay and 320 acres of land as a reward; the captains get 1,600 acres. York receives no compensation and endures several more years of enslavement. York’s eventual status as free or enslaved, much like his overall fate, is largely a mystery.

↑ back to top

IMAGES and TEXT: They Journeyed On

IMAGE 1 of 2: Scenic photo

DESCRIBING: A large photograph of the Missouri River that makes up the background of the left of the brochure. 

SYNOPSIS: A photo of sunset along the Missouri River.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Soft blues and creamy pinks paint the sky and reflect on the tranquil, wide river. In the foreground wild clumps of golden flowers with chocolate brown centers cover the shoreline. On the far side, trees are awash in the golden light of the setting sun. 

CAPTION: Missouri River


IMAGE 2 of 2: Historic document

DESCRIBING: Small photo of a historic, handwritten document. 

SYNOPSIS: A handwritten table, meticulously written in fountain ink, lists names which are barely discernable. The document shows its age, with slight yellowing and ragged edges. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The left edge of the document has rows labeled 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and continues off the page. Looking closing, the colmuns read Name, Rank. Other columns are undiscernible. Names read. Ordway, Nathaniel Pryor, Charles Floyd, Patrick Gass, Wiliam Bratton. The names continue off the page. 

CAPTION: Lewis drew up this list of personnel before leaving. 



“The Lewis and Clark expedition is the most universally known event of American exploration. Because of its unparalleled success and the seeming ease with which it was carried out, we tend to overlook or to underrate the hardships and dangers that confronted the Corps of Discovery. The explorers met these circumstances with determination and good sense. Neither foolhardy nor timid, Lewis and Clark were deliberate and quick-witted, and as inventive and creative as situations demanded.

“For 28 months the Corps of Discovery faced many challenges. There were dramatic incidents with Indians, notably a face-down with Teton Sioux and a bloody encounter with Piegan Blackfeet. At times, circumstances taxed the morale of the party, and the many references in the journals kept by Lewis and Clark reflect their concern about the men’s spirit. As the strain of physical exertion mounted, so did the likelihood of accidents and illness. Exhaustion led to mishaps and mistakes. Burdened by arduous tasks, hampered by inclement weather, and slowed by the hardships of the terrain, everyone began to feel the press of time. The captains’ cool-headedness in the face of such hardships accounts for much of the success of the expedition.

“Probably the challenges that Lewis and Clark faced were not entirely new to them. Both had met like challenges during their years of military service. Leading men on dangerous missions in wilderness settings against potentially hostile Indians was, after all, a task of most young officers of that era. But crossing a continent challenged them in ways that earlier experiences had not entirely prepared them for. The expedition called for them to make difficult decisions under circumstances previously unmatched and not encountered by their contemporaries. Cut off from the support and reliable advice of seasoned professionals, Lewis and Clark had to depend on their own judgment. In this they proved themselves entirely worthy of President Jefferson’s trust, and they are still to be admired for their resourcefulness and ingenuity. Jefferson could not have wanted better leaders for the young nation’s first great venture into western exploration.”

—Gary E. Moulton, editor, The Lewis and Clark Journals: An American Epic of Discovery

↑ back to top

IMAGE and TEXT: The Corps of Discovery

IMAGE 1 of 1: Journal

DESCRIBING: medium photo of an old journal.

SYNOPSIS: Weathered elk-skin leatherbound journal written by Lewis and Clark with the journal open and a handwritten page. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The journal is tan, aged and tattered. There is a strap that goes across the journal for place-marking pages. The words cannot be made out, but the pages are covered in dense handwritten script and tables. 

CAPTION: The expedition’s elkskin-bound journals record daily activities as well as new plants and animals and geographical information.



The Corps of Discovery.

Meriwether Lewis began preparing for the military expedition in March 1803. He ordered custom-made weapons from the US Armory in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. He supervised construction of a collapsible iron boat frame, designed to be covered with animal skins, that he thought might prove useful. In Pittsburgh he ordered a keelboat and got a Newfoundland dog he named Seaman. In Philadelphia he took crash courses in medicine, natural history, and the use of scientific instruments. He also bought clothing, trade goods, paper, medicines, and other supplies. In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he learned to use celestial navigation tools.

From Philadelphia, Lewis wrote to William Clark, a fellow Virginian under whom he once served, asking him to join as co-commander. Clark, brother of George Rogers Clark of American Revolution fame, accepted and began to recruit “some good hunters, stout, healthy, unmarried men, accustomed to the woods, and capable of bearing bodily fatigue in a pretty considerable degree.”

As finally assembled for the upriver journey in May 1804, the Corps of Discovery numbered 44 men of diverse backgrounds. Most were US Army enlisted men. Others were backwoodsmen. A few were French boatmen who were hired to pilot the keelboat up the Missouri and who also knew how to handle the smaller boats called pirogues. Most Corps members were young, single, and accustomed to hard labor and had useful skills. One, a Black man named York, was held in slavery by William Clark. Two men had blacksmithing experience, and one knew carpentry. Others knew American Indian languages, and some were excellent hunters. All demonstrated an ability to bear extreme hardship. 

One of the most valuable members, George Drouillard, an outstanding scout, hunter, and interpreter, spoke several Indian languages. A total of 33 were designated the “permanent party” and intended to make the entire journey. The remainder, the “return party,” were to be sent back down the Missouri midway through the voyage, with maps, notes, and specimens of plants, animals, and minerals they had collected so far.

↑ back to top

IMAGES and TEXT: To the Shore of the Pacific

IMAGE 1 of 4: Buffalo Dance

DESCRIBING: Medium sized historic painting of a village scene.

SYNOPSIS: A horizontal, muted-color painting captures the excitement and festivities of the Buffalo Dance in a Mandan village.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: This detailed, hand-colored etching by the 19th century Swiss artist Karl Bodmer depicts his impressions of the Mandan people’s bison dance. In the foreground, a large group of Mandan men are in various dancing positions – some are dancing in an upright position and others are bent completely over with their faces near the ground. Most are wearing nothing but a loincloth and body paint, but several are also wearing what appears to be a full or partial bison head over their heads and shoulders. Nearly all the men are carrying shields with colorful regalia, and either a rifle or a long spear with feathers and vibrant cloth decorations attached to the ends. In the background, as if clouded by smoke, are a group of women and several elderly men who seem to be watching or cheering for the men. The rounded earth-tone roofs of several Mandan lodges can be seen behind the various groups of people. At the left near an earthlodge, high above the people, stands a tall, thin pole with some type of bundle attached to the top. The background sky appears to be either cloudy or filled with smoke from unseen fires.

CAPTION: Buffalo dance of the Mandan tribe


IMAGE 2 of 4: York and the Mandan

DESCRIBING: Medium sized historic painting, cropped. 

SYNOPSIS: A vertical painting by American artist, Charles M. Russell, portrays the well-known story of how the Hidatsa people were fascinated by York, the only African-American member of the Corps of Discovery.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Created in 1908, the primary focus of this illustration is on two Hidatsa men who seem to be inspecting York during their first-ever encounter with a Black man. Closest to the viewer is the Hidatsa chief, Le Borgne, who refused to believe a man could be entirely black. He wet his finger and rubbed it on York’s chest in an attempt to rub off what he thought was black paint. Le Borgne wears no shirt and appears to be wearing an animal skin robe wrapped around his waist covering his lower body and legs to mid-calf. The fur of the pelt appears to be toward the chief’s body; the hide side is facing out and has some ornamental designs at the waist. Leather leggings extend from beneath the bottom of the robe and leather moccasins are on his feet. He is intently examining York’s skin while pulling back York’s right arm with his left hand to make it easier to rub York’s chest with his right hand. Another Hidatsa man, behind Le Borgne and York, is also bare-chested, wearing just a leather loincloth and foot coverings. He also is carefully looking at the skin on York’s back. York’s expression is very stoic as he stands tall and proud; he seems to be accepting of the inspection by the Native men. He is also bare-chested and sunlight from the top of the lodge seems to reflect off his dark skin. York is wearing what appears to be blue military uniform trousers, boots, and button-up leggings from his ankles to his knees. A fire is on the dirt floor behind the three men. In the hazy, smoke-filled background are other tribal members observing the proceedings.

CAPTION: York fascinated the Hidatsa, who had never seen a Black man.


IMAGE 3 of 4: Native person dancing

DESCRIBING: Large painted portrait of person. 

SYNOPSIS: An intricate watercolor illustration, in which the background has been omitted, of a Hidatsa man actively dancing in festive attire.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: This illustration is a hand-colored etching by Karl Bodmer, titled, “Hidatsa dancer.”

The painting captures a Hidatsa man who posed for this portrait dressed in his cultural regalia. He is shown in mid-dance, slightly hunched over to the left, with just his left foot on the ground, his right leg is bent and, while mostly unseen, gives an impression of a spirited dance. The man is wearing what appears to be ornate animal-skin pants with horizontal stripes painted across the front of each leg and long fringe hanging from the outside edges. He wears no shirt, but has a long, flowing dark-red cape (probably of tanned leather) tied around his neck and draped behind him – it appears to be bouncing with his dance movements. Although crouched over, his face is looking slightly upward and on his head he is wearing a large bush-like headdress made of black-and-white magpie tail feathers. In the center of the head covering, on the back of his head, is a wild turkey tail with one row of large brown and white-tipped feathers which stand rigid and straight in a row. The man holds in his left hand a small white bow with two arrows. In his right hand he holds what appears to be a type of shaker which has a small black-and-white feather dangling from the end. Around his neck hangs beads and other ornamental items, and possibly a war whistle. Both arms are bent and slightly in front of his legs and as he dances everything on his body seems to be in motion with the beat of the drum. The entire image captures just the dancer – there is no background

CAPTION: Hidatsa dancer 


IMAGE 4 of 4: Painting of animals in water

DESCRIBING: Medium sized historic landscape painting.

SYNOPSIS: A horizontal painting in muted colors which shows a natural scene of tall bluffs, trees, and bushes along the Missouri River. Several elk and a large herd of bison approach the river’s opposite shore.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Swiss-artist, Karl Bodmer, created this hand-colored etching to illustrate the vast amount of wildlife found along the Missouri River valley. The viewer sees the scene from mid-river looking toward the opposite shore. Large, green-leafed trees, green bushes, impressive rock formations, and a sandy shoreline are seen in front of looming rock bluffs and rising, rugged, grass-covered hills which stand in the near distance. At the left, a small herd of approximately 10 light-brown elk are near or standing in the shallow river’s edge. On the right, a very large migrating herd of dark brown bison stretches from the shoreline back up onto the distant grass-covered hills. While the exact number cannot be counted, the herd appears to contain several hundred bison. The first bison to reach the river have waded into the water to drink, their heads down. The natural colors of the shoreline and hills are reflected on the smooth surface of the river.

CAPTION: Elk and buffalo water in the Missouri River.



On May 14, 1804, the Corps of Discovery left Camp River Dubois in Illinois in the keelboat and two pirogues, crossed the Mississippi River, and headed up the Missouri. Over the next 28 months they traversed 8,000 miles of land and water, about which they knew next to nothing, in search of a fabled Northwest passage that had eluded explorers for hundreds of years.

The 2,540-mile Missouri was not an easy river to travel. The Corps tried to maintain 14 to 20 miles a day, but some days conditions limited them to four or five miles. At times the men battled powerful currents and turbulent waters that brought trees or branches into the river and caved in riverbanks with little or no warning. Summer heat was unbearable, and they were often plagued by insects. Lewis, who had received some medical training, treated many illnesses, injuries, and ailments like sore feet, toothaches, boils, and snake bites. Remarkably, only one member of the expedition died during the entire trek—Sgt. Charles Floyd on August 20, 1804, of an unknown illness.

Both captains kept journals. They meticulously recorded distances they traveled, navigational measurements that would later form the basis for maps of the journey, and observations of topography, ethnography, mineral resources, and hundreds of plants and animals previously unknown to western science.

In November the expedition set up winter quarters near the junction of the Knife and Missouri rivers, in present-day North Dakota, 1,609 miles from Camp River Dubois. They built Fort Mandan near the five villages of the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes, who provided valuable knowledge of the country west to the Rocky Mountains. Here Lewis and Clark recruited as interpreters Toussaint Charbonneau, a 44-year-old French-Canadian trapper, and his 16-year-old Shoshone wife Sacagawea. In February 1805 she gave birth to a boy they named Jean Baptiste. The presence of Sacagawea, her baby, and a Black man was a curiosity to the tribes.

Lewis and Clark would not have made it to the Pacific and back without the help of tribes like the Mandan and Hidatsa, Shoshone, Nez Perce, and Clatsop. Over the course of the expedition the Corps came into contact with nearly 50 different tribes. They often provided food, trading opportunities, knowledge of the lands ahead, and experienced guides. Only once, in July 1806 with a party of Piegan Blackfeet, did the expedition have an encounter that led to violence.

In early April 1805 Lewis and Clark sent the keelboat—too large to navigate the Upper Missouri—back to St. Louis with letters, dispatches, maps, reports, and a large collection of zoological, botanical, and ethnological specimens and artifacts for President Jefferson. The rest of the Corps continued up the Missouri in two pirogues and six recently built canoes.

Over the next several months they experienced hunger, fatigue, and sickness as they forged westward past the mouth of the Yellowstone River and into what is now Montana, then on to the Great Falls. The falls portage took three weeks.

At the Three Forks of the Missouri, they followed the western, or Jefferson, fork. In August, after reaching Lemhi Pass on the Continental Divide, Lewis and Clark met Sacagawea’s relatives, who provided the expedition with horses and guided them over the difficult mountain ranges of Idaho to the Salmon River and to the Bitterroot Valley. It was their first American Indian contact since they left Fort Mandan.

From a point they called “Travelers’ Rest,” near present-day Missoula, Montana, they crossed Lolo Pass to the Clearwater River, which flowed into the Snake and then the Columbia. The Corps finally reached the Pacific in mid-November 1805. They were 4,134 miles from Camp River Dubois, according to William Clark.

At the mouth of the Columbia they built Fort Clatsop, named after a local tribe, and settled into winter quarters. Rainy weather, tainted food, and insects plagued the expedition all winter.

While Lewis and Clark worked on their journals and maps, the rest of the Corps prepared for the return trip by boiling ocean water for salt, hunting, and preparing elk hides from which to make moccasins and clothing.

↑ back to top

IMAGES and TEXT: Return to St. Louis

IMAGE 1 of 3: People fishing

DESCRIBING: Medium sized painting. 

SYNOPSIS: Painting of four native people from the early to mid 1800s fishing on the Columbia River. Massive falls along the river dominate the scene.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: In the foreground four native people employ different methods of fishing as they stand along the banks of the mighty Columbia. From left to right, one bends to club a big salmon, two hold up spears, and one operated a wooden fish trap called a weir. On the great falls of the Columbia beyond, salmon are jumping against the current, trying to clear the falls. The deep turquoise water froths with white foam and mist. In the distance, stretched across the falls, are more fish weirs. Standing atop the cliffs are the silhouettes of three tribe members, looking on. Golden cliffs in the distance frame the scene. 

CAPTION: Salmon fishing in the Columbia River


IMAGE 2 of 3: Statue of Sacagawea

DESCRIBING: Medium sized photograph of Sacagawea statue without a background.

SYNOPSIS: Bronze sculpture of Sacagawea depicts a native woman with a baby on her back. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: She gazes into the distance with pressed lips and a slight, determined furrow in her brow. Her left hand reaches up to her shoulder to touch the cloth wrap that holds her sleeping baby boy against her back. The sleeping baby's head is leaned back and to the side, so that his plump cheek squishes against the shawl the holds him.  The shawl draped around her shoulders cascades down in bronze ripples.  

CAPTION: Sacagawea and son


IMAGE 3 of 3: Scenic background image of Columbia River Gorge.

DESCRIBING: Large scenic photograph that serves as the background for the right side of the brochure.

SYNOPSIS: Photo of an iconic vie of the Columbia River valley, with the river coursing through a valley of steep cliffs. The Vista House landmark is perched in the foreground, on top of a cliff that drops steeply to the valley below. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The photo lightens and blurs into white to accommodate the text and other photos. 

CAPTION: Columbia River Gorge 



The Corps of Discovery left Fort Clatsop on March 23, 1806. Drouillard and a party of hunters were sent out ahead while the rest of the group traveled up the Columbia. A Wallowa leader showed them a shortcut, enabling them to bypass the Snake River and save 80 miles. On June 24, after spending a month with the Nez Perce waiting for the winter snows to melt, the Corps set out along the Lolo Trail for the Bitterroot Mountains.

On July 3, after crossing the mountains via Lolo Pass and stopping at Travelers’ Rest, Lewis and Clark split the men into two main groups to explore more of the territory. Lewis’ group continued over what is now called Lewis and Clark Pass and reached the Missouri near the Great Falls. Lewis and three others then explored the Marias River, during which the only deadly encounter between the expedition and American Indians occurred.

Clark’s group generally retraced the outbound route to the Three Forks of the Missouri and then overland to the Yellowstone River, which they followed to its junction with the Missouri. There on August 12, 1806, Clark was reunited with Lewis and his party. The expedition proceeded down the Missouri to St. Louis where, on September 23, 1806, the Corps was greeted with as much fanfare as the settlement could muster.

Of the expedition’s accomplishments, Jefferson wrote: “Messrs. Lewis and Clark, and their brave companions, have by this arduous service deserved well of their country.”

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: Back Side of Brochure

The back side features the iconic "black bar" title header, which is standard for all National Park Service brochures. This title reads, "Along the Lewis and Clark Trail."

This page features a large timeline, which begins on the left and runs across the top of the entire 48-inch-wide brochure. The timeline follows the Lewis and Clark Expedition from their first instructions from President Thomas Jefferson, through their journey West to the Pacific Ocean, and through their return back to St. Louis. 

This timeline is formatted in a collage style. There are two main background images: The Missouri River, on the left, and the Columbia River Gorge on the right. The layout features small images, including photographs of artifacts, historic paintings, and drawings from the Lewis and Clark Journals, including captions and text.

Running along the bottom of this side of the brochure are four short essays as well, with images wrapped within the texts of each.

↑ back to top

MAP: Sixteen States, 4,900 Miles, One Lewis and Clark Trail

DESCRIBING: Large colored horizontal map of Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

SYNOPSIS: Map showing the 4,900-mile expanse of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon. The National Historic Trail links more than a hundred historic and cultural locations across the historic route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Also featured on the map are Historic Indian Tribe locations, as well as Present-Day Indian Tribe Reservation locations. American tribes, visitor destination features, and nearby towns are featured to support travelers. At this level, the map can be used to navigate within the region of the state. To navigate in more detail other area maps should be consulted.

Major points of interest will be detailed in the next description, from east to west.


Solid Pink Line- Lewis and Clack outbound journey, 1803-1805

Solid Green Line- Lewis and Clark return journey, 1806 (route shown where different from outbound journey)

Extended Dotted Green Line- Lewis return journey

Shortened Dotted Green Line- Clark return journey

WEA- Historic Indian group location

WASCO- Present-day Indian tribe reservation location

Solid Grey Line with a Thin Yellow Line on the Top and Bottom- Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail driving route

Red Dot with Black Outline- Trail point of interest

North arrow points toward the top left corner of the page

Distance scale depicts 50 Kilometers, 100 Kilometers, 200 Kilometers, 50 Miles, 100 Miles, and 200 Miles. 

Note- Present-day state names and boundaries are shown for reference only. 


Some Indian Nations who lived along the Missouri River during the Lewis and Clark expedition were later relocated to Oklahoma. These include the Delaware, Kaw, Osage, Otoe-Missouria, Pawnee, Ponca, Potawatomi, and Shawnee.

↑ back to top

MAP: Long Description - Along the Lewis and Clark Trail

DESCRIBING: Large horizontal map of Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

SYNOPSIS: Map showing the 4,900 mile expanse of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon. This National Historic Trail links more than a hundred historic and cultural locations across the historic route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. 

How to use: This map is used less for navigation and more for inspiration. This National Historic Trail is not a classic trail that can be walked along. Rather this map shows a network cultural and historic sites across the 4,900 mile route that together explore the legacy of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Major points of interest will be detailed later in this description, from east to west.

Summary of route: The Lewis and Clark Trail crosses 16 states and passes through the territories of more than 60 tribal nations. The trail begins in Pittsburgh, follows the Ohio River and then Mississippi River to St. Louis. From there the route heads west along the Missouri River to Omaha, Nebraksa. Here it turns north, still following the Missouri into the Great Plains of the Dakotas and into the Rocky Mountains. The trail crosses into the Rocky Mountains. Here there is a dramatic tangle of routes, showing where Captains Lewis and Clark separated and rejoined one another as they explored the Yellowstone River and Marias Rivers of present-day Montana. The trail continues east along the Snake and Columbia Rivers. The trail ends at the expedition's ultimate goal: the Pacific Ocean. 

The entire route twists and turns considerably as almost 75 percent of it follows rivers. 

States passed from east to west: Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indianna, Illinois, Missouria, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. 

Navigation: Because the trail follows a historic route, it does not closely align with highways. Consult with state maps for more specific navigation. 

Major cities and points of interest: Listed east to west 

The East:

The Lewis and Clark Trail begins on the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is traced and highlighted in a brown color along the trail’s path all the way to its terminus on the West Coast. Downstream from Pittsburgh, the trail winds it’s way through the Ohio Valley until it meets the Mississippi River where the trail turns upriver toward St. Louis, Missouri and Gateway Arch National Park. Continuing upriver on the Mississippi, the trail meanders through Lewis and Clark State Historic Site in Illinois and makes a bend south to Lewis and Clark Boat House and Museum in Missouri. From this point, the trail follows the river westward to Fort Osage National Historic Landmark before making a more northerly turn past Kansas City toward Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trail and Visitor Center and Lewis and Clark National Historic Headquarters and Western Historic Trails Center.

Rocky Mountains:

Akta Lakota Musuem in Chamberlain South Dakota. Knife River Indian Villages, Stanton North Dakota. Mandan Hidstasa Arikara Interpretive Center, NEw Town North Dakota. Northeast Montana route begins at Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center and Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site and follows along the Missouri River. The route continues to Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument to the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument Interpretive Center, and then gently south to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. The route dips into North Idaho at Sacajawea Interpretive Center and heads north to Travelers’ Rest State Park and Lolo Pass near Missoula, MT. 


Heading east, it continues to Lewis and Clark Discovery Center near Nez Perce at the boarder of the states of Washington and Montana. In Washington, Tamastsllkt Cultural Center and Sacajawea State Park Interpretive Center are near Pendleton, WA. Moving east along the Columbia River is the Colombia Gorge Discovery Center and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. On the western coast of Washington, near the Pacific Ocean is Lewis and Clark National Historic Park.

Tribes: The historic and current territories of more than 60 tribal nations are noted. These include: Pacific Northwest tribes along the Columbia River like the Clatsop, Cowlitz, Nehalem, and Tilamook. Tribes of the Rocky Mountains including the Blackfeet, Nez Perce, Shoshone, and Crow. Great Plains Tribes include the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Sioux, and Omaha. Tribes along the Ohio River include the Otoe Missouria, Fox, Shawnee.

The historic route:

This map presents both the outbound, or westbound, route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the return route, or eastbound journey. Much of these two routes are the same and are represented on the map as a solid orange line. The Trail begins in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and follows the Ohio River downstream, passing along today’s states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois, before the Ohio enters the Mississippi River. Once on the Mississippi, the Trail turns and goes north, or upstream, passing St. Louis, Missouri before entering the Missouri River as it heads west. The Trail then follows the entire length of the Missouri River as it passes through, or along, the following states: Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana, where the Missouri River begins. The Trail then becomes a land-based journey as the Lewis and Clark Expedition used horses to cross over the Rocky Mountains of western Montana and Idaho. Once on the western slope of the Continental Divide, the Corps of Discovery returned to the river systems, floating downstream on the Clearwater River, Snake River, and into the Columbia River, moving through Idaho, and along the borders of Washington and Oregon. The journey culminated near today’s Astoria, Oregon, near the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The Trail continues south of Fort Clatsop and ends at Cannon Beach near Seaside, Oregon. 

The Corps of Discovery returned east in the spring of 1806 by paddling up the Columbia River. There are several sections of the return Trail which are different than the westbound route and are denoted with a solid green line on the map. When the Corps reached the area known today as Travelers’ Rest State Park in Montana, they separated into two groups, one led by Captain Lewis (highlighted by long green hash marks on the map) which explored by land the northern section of Montana, and one led by Captain Clark which explored southwestern Montana by land and then down the Yellowstone River (short green hash marks on the map). The two groups rejoined near today border between Montana and North Dakota. From that point, the unified Corps returned to the Missouri River and concluded at St. Louis, Missouri.

In-depth geography: Rivers and mountains:

Starting at Pittsburgh, the trail follows the Ohio River down through and along the borders between Ohio to the north and West Virginia to the south and then Indiana to the north and Kentucky to the south until the Ohio River meets the Mississippi River. It then continues west as the Missouri River between Illinois to the north and Missouri to the south, then Iowa and South Dakota to the north and Kansas and Nebraska to the south. It then dissects North Dakota passing through Lake Sacajawea until it arrives at the border of North Dakota and Montana. At this point, the outbound trail and the return trails differ, but all of the trails move through Montana encountering no mountain ranges. The outbound trail and a portion of the Lewis return trail pass through Fort Peck lake towards the northern edge of Montana continuing along the Missouri River, while the Clark return trail came up from the south western corner to towards Montana following the Yellowstone River instead. Lewisʻs return trail shows him exploring Marias River and the Great Falls of the Missouri in the northwestern corner of Montana, after having just crossed over the Rocky Mountains to the west. The Clark return trail and the outbound trail both cross the Rockies further south near the Idaho boundary. This area has a smaller mountain area called the Bitterroot Mountains, where all three trails reconnect at Travelersʻ Rest State Park, just outside of Missoula on the Idaho and Montana boundary. Form there the trails follow the Clearwater and Snake River across between Washington to the north and Oregon to the south and following the Columbia River through the Cascade Mountains until it reaches the Pacific Ocean to the west.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Clatsop / Chinook

The Clatsop lived for several generations on the south side of the Columbia River near the northwest tip of what is now Oregon. They were relatives of the Chinook who lived along the northern banks of the Columbia and the Pacific Coast. The Clatsop numbered about 400 and, like the Chinook, they were wealthy traders with few enemies. They helped the Corps of Discovery locate a site for Fort Clatsop and prepare for the winter. During their stay at the fort, the Corps’ relations with both tribes were friendly.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Nez Perce

The Nez Perce call themselves the Niimíipuu (“The People”). The sign-language motion for their name, a right finger out and a downward motion in front of the face, was inaccurately interpreted by fur traders as “pierced nose,” or nez percé in French. After the tribe acquired horses, their trips across the Rockies to buffalo country became easier, but they still continued to fish for salmon on the Snake, Clearwater, Salmon, and Columbia rivers.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Piegan Blackfeet

The Blackfeet originated on a homeland that covered today’s southern Alberta and western Saskatchewan in Canada and central Montana in the United States. Today the tribe lives on a Reservation in Montana, next to Glacier National Park and the US-Canada border.

The Blackfeet probably moved onto the plains in 1750, but traditions confirm the tribe’s residency in its homeland for thousands of years. The Blackfeet are people of the plains and the buffalo.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Shoshone-Bannock

The Shoshone-Bannock, a division of the Northern Shoshone, live in the Rocky Mountains. They migrated to Montana and Idaho from the Great Basin of Nevada and Utah in the 1600s and became nomadic buffalo hunters on today’s Montana plains. Sacagawea was from the Agaidaka band of the Shoshone.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Teton Sioux

The Teton Sioux once inhabited a vast territory in the northern prairies and plains in today’s North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. They are one of three groups of tribal people sharing a closely related language who call themselves Nakota, Dakota, and Lakota.

The name “Teton” comes from the native word tetonwan that means “dwellers of the prairie” and aptly describes their original territory. They have lived in the prairies of North America for hundreds of years.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Mandan / Hidatsa

Long before Europeans arrived on the plains, the Mandans and their Hidatsa neighbors lived in fortified earthlodge villages along the Missouri River. These agricultural tribes traded their farm produce and Knife River flint to other tribes and later were leaders in developing the trade with Hudson’s Bay and American Fur Company traders.

↑ back to top

MAP: Historic Indian Group Locations

Historic Indian Group Locations: 

WEA in all capital letters and light brown in color indicates Historic Indian group location 

In Oregon state: Clatsop, Nehalem, Tillamook, Cascades, Clackamas, Wasco, Warm Springs, Umatilla Waluulampm, Cayuse, and Wallowa 

In Washington state: Lower Chinook, Chehalis, Cowlitz, Wishram, Yakama, and Palouse. 

In Idaho state: Nez Perce, Shoshone 

In Montana state: Salish Kootenai, Little Shell Chippewa, Gros Ventre, Assiniboine, Northern Cheyenne and Crow. 

In North Dakota state: Mandan and Hidatsa 

In South Dakota state: Arikara, and Teton Sioux 

In Nebraska state: Yankee Sioux, Ponca, Omaha, and Pawnee 

In Missouri state: Otoe-Missouria, Iowa, Osage, and Shawnee 

In Illinois state: Sac, Fox, Kickapoo, Peoria, Potawwatomi, Illini, Kaskaskia, and Shawnee 

In Indiana state: Wyandot, Shawnee, Miami, WEA, Piankashaw 

In Kentucky state: Shawnee 

In Ohio state: Shawnee and Mingo 

In Pennsylvania state: Susquehannock and Seneca 

Wasco in dark brown text indicates Present-day Indian tribe reservation location. Additional text reads, “Some Indian Nations who lived along the Missouri River during the Lewis and Clark expedition were later relocated to Oklahoma. These include the Delaware, Kaw, Osage, Ottoe-Missouria, Pawnee, Ponca, Potawatomi, and Shawnee. 

↑ back to top

MAP: Legend


The map legend is located at the bottom of the horizontal map.

Lewis and Clark journey 

A thick green line indicates the Lewis and Clark return journey, 1806 (route shown where different from outbound journey) The trail follows mostly the same route back but takes a different route through the southeast corner of Washington. 

Lewis Journey 

A thinner green, long dash line indicates Lewis return journey. Beginning at Traveler’s Rest State Park in Montana, the route that Lewis takes goes further north through Montana and then connects to the main Montana route at Fort Benton, meeting back up with Clark at Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center in North Dakota. 

Clark Journey 

A thinner green, short dash line indicates Clark return journey. Beginning at Traveler’s Rest State Park in Wyoming, the route that Clark takes a southern route through Montana meeting back up with Lewis at Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center in North Dakota. 

Seven different water trails with a combined total of 1,500 miles can be found along the route. The continental divide, indicated by a blue dotted line, winds across the trail. Although the vast majority of the trails follow rivers, there are some overland components as well.

Scale: 1 inch equals 100 miles. 

↑ back to top

MAP: Lewis and Clark NHT Logo

Lewis and Clark NHT Logo 

The logo is in the shape of a triangle with rounded sides, nearly a circle. It features brown silhouettes of two men from the knee up. One man is pointing, arm outstretched, and he wears a tricorn hat that was popular in the 18th century. The other man stands beside him and holds a long thin object. The words “Lewis and Clark” are around the top of the logo, and “National Historic Trail” is below. The entire logo is framed with a thin black line.

↑ back to top

TEXT: The Trail

Tracing the route of the Lewis and Clark

Expedition of 1803 to 1806, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail winds 4,900 miles across North America through eastern forests and the Great Plains, across high deserts and the Rocky Mountains, and on to the Pacific Ocean. The national historic trail commemorates and protects the rich diversity of historical and cultural landscapes along this route.

Follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark along the banks of the Ohio, Missouri, Yellowstone, Clearwater, Snake, and Columbia rivers. Visit local communities and native homelands. Listen to the stories of then and now. Go by car, bus, or bicycle; by water; or on foot. Interpretive signs, exhibits, visitor centers, museums, and special events will guide you along the way.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Tribal Homelands

Every mile of Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail was first the homeland of Indigenous peoples. The route crosses the homelands of more than 60 tribes. Since time immemorial, tribes have celebrated their dynamic cultures, languages, technologies, art, trade, and economies on this continent.

Tribes are as key to the Lewis and Clark story as the expedition’s namesake captains. Two hundred years ago, tribal knowledge and assistance proved critical to the expedition’s survival. Today, whether rooted in their original homeland or displaced, Native peoples remain—and so do their connections to these places.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail honors tribal homelands historically, presently, and in perpetuity.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Designation

In 1978 Congress established Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail as part of the National Trails System. At that time, the 3,700-mile-long trail began in Hartford, Illinois, and ended at the shores of the Pacific Ocean. In 2019 Congress extended the trail by 1,200 miles to include the preparatory segment of the expedition—following the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Today the trail stretches 4,900 miles through 16 states: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Plan Your Trip

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail connects museums, interpretive centers, parks, and points of interest that are managed by federal, state, and local agencies; tribal nations; nonprofit organizations; and private landowners.

Find places to visit, maps, history, and partner toolkits at www.nps.gov/lecl.

The headquarters of Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is located inside the National Park Service Regional Office along the Missouri River in Omaha, Nebraska. A visitor center is open year-round. Western National Parks Association, a nonprofit education partner of the National Park Service, operates an onsite bookstore.

If you plan to travel sections of the historic trail by boat, canoe, or kayak, be aware that long portions of the rivers traveled by Lewis and Clark are now impounded by dams. The dams on the Ohio, Snake, and Columbia rivers have locks. Commercial boat trips are available on some segments.

Seven different water trails, with a combined total of over 1,500 miles, can be found along the route: Ohio River Water Trail, Missouri River Water Trail, Missouri National Recreational River Water Trail, Missouri River Breaks Water Trail, Jefferson River Canoe Trail, Northwest Discovery Water Trail, and Lower Columbia River Water Trail. To learn more visit www.nps.gov/lecl.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Visitor Etiquette

Before visiting tribal communities and reservations, be sure to first consult individual tribal websites for current information. Just as each community is unique, so are their policies and codes of conduct for ceremonies and special events.

Respect privacy. Recording video and taking photographs may be prohibited; ask for permission first.

Do not move, remove, or otherwise disturb any found objects or artifacts. Federal laws protect all natural and cultural features including Native American remains and artifacts.

↑ back to top

IMAGE and TEXT: Partners

DESCRIBING: Logo of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

SYNOPSIS: The logo is in the shape of a triangle with rounded sides, nearly a circle. It features brown silhouettes of two men from the knee up. One man is pointing, arm outstretched, and he wears a tricorn hat that was popular in the 18th century. The other man stands beside him and holds a long thin object. The words “Lewis and Clark” are around the top of the logo, and “National Historic Trail” is below. The entire logo is framed with a thin black line.


The Lewis and Clark Trust serves as the friends group for the national historic trail. The trust is dedicated to telling the story and preserving the trail from coast to coast. www.lewisandclarktrust.org

The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit national organization dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The foundation publishes the quarterly magazine We Proceeded On and holds an annual meeting at a site along the trail. www.lewisandclark.org

The National Park Foundation, the official charitable partner of the National Park Service, enriches America’s national parks and programs through the support of private citizens, park lovers, stewards of nature, history enthusiasts, and wilderness adventurers. www.nationalparks.org

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: Accessibility

We strive to make facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For information check the website and contact individual sites you plan to visit.

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: More Information

ADDRESS: 601 Riverfront Dr., Omaha, NE 68102

PHONE NUMBER: 402-661-1804

WEBSITE: www.nps.gov/lecl

↑ back to top

By using this site, you agree to follow our Terms, Conditions, License, Privacy Policy, and Research Protocols.