In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began a voyage of discovery with 45 men, a keelboat, two pirogues,and a dog. They departed from Camp Wood located in what was to become Illinois.
President Jefferson had long dreamed of what lay to the west of the young United States what animals, plants, minerals, what route for eastern trade would his expedition reveal? The President had privately requested Congress to fund the expedition shortly before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Lewis and Clark were ordered to write accounts of all they did, each species encountered, details of cultures they met, maps of the land - everything. They traveled over a three-year period through lands that later became 11 states.
Most of the trail follows the Missouri and Columbia Rivers. Much has changed in 200 years but trail portions remain intact. At 3700 miles, Lewis and Clark NHT is the second longest of the 23 National Scenic and National Historic Trails. It begins at Hartford, IL and passes through portions of MO, KS, IA, NE, SD, ND, MT, ID, OR, and WA.
Many people follow the trail by auto; others find adventure in the sections that encourage boating, biking, or hiking. You can still see the White Cliffs in Montana as Lewis and Clark did. You may stand where they stood looking over the rolling plains at Spirit Mound in South Dakota. You might meet the descendants of the people who hosted Lewis and Clark all along the trail. It remains for your discovery.