In the wake of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson was anxious to know what he had just bought from France and find out if it provided an easy route to the Pacific Ocean. He tapped his secretary Captain Meriwether Lewis as leader of the Corps of Discovery, who in turn named his former colleague Captain William Clark co-commander. Lewis and Clark National Historical Park celebrates the wet winter of 1805-06 that the expedition spent on the coast of Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia River.
Fort Clatsop, Fort to Sea Trail, Cape Disappointment State Park, Fort Stevens State Park
The park is spread across multiple sites, including scenic Cape Disappointment State Park in Washington, plus Fort Clatsop and Fort Stevens State Park in Oregon. Fort Clatsop was named a National Memorial in 1958 and still serves as the primary National Park Service (NPS) visitor center with exhibits and a film. Other points of interest include the spot Sacagawea visited to see a beached whale and the salt works where seawater was boiled to produce the necessary commodity for the return trip.
When the Corps of Discovery finally saw the Pacific Ocean on November 7, 1805, Clark journaled, “Ocian in view! O! the joy.” You can follow in their footsteps by starting at Fort Clatsop then hiking the 6.5-mile one-way Fort to Sea Trail, which marks the terminus of the 4,900-mile long Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail (which is mostly a driving route).
Fort Clatsop is a well-made replica of the small structure where Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1805-06 and inside you will find rustic furniture similar to that built in 1805.
Summer for costumed demonstrations, though a winter visit would be more historically accurate.
$10 per person to visit Fort Clatsop (or America the Beautiful pass) and each State Park has a separate entry fee
Access roads are paved
Fort Stevens State Park on the Oregon coast has hundreds of campsites for tents and RVs, and there is also camping available at Cape Disappointment State Park in Washington.
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site (North Dakota)
Nez Perce National Historical Park (Idaho-Oregon-Washington)
Missouri National Recreation River (Nebraska-South Dakota)
Explore More – Where did the Corps of Discovery spend the winter prior to Fort Clatsop and first meet Sacagawea?
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