When we started our Oregon Ho! road trip, I shared with you the book, Profiles of Courage by Stephen Ambrose, a guide to Lewis and Clark’s journey. When we reached the Columbia River, we were delighted to follow the Lewis and Clark Trail (which of course starts hundreds of miles to the east).
Here is a traveler’s library of photos with some of the highlights of our short excursion along the Lewis and Clark Trail. From vantage points along the Columbia River and a stop at the Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center , to Cape Disappointment in the state of Washington, and then to the Lewis and Clark National Park in Oregon with its reconstruction of Ft. Clatsop, where the Corps of Discovery spent their winter.
After the photos, I’ll give you our opinion of the various spots we visited.
You could take weeks to traverse just this portion of their route if you stopped at every identified camping spot. While we felt all of our Lewis and Clark Trail was worthwhile, there were definitely some high points.
Lewis and Clark Trail Brochure
Get your hands on a little brochure Lewis and Clark Trail in Oregon (combined with Washington). I picked one up when we stopped at Multnomah Falls, and it was a handy companion.
Take the Historic Columbia River Highway along the Oregon side of the Columbia as far as Cascade Locks. While I-84 runs along the river, the old highway clings to cliffs above and gives you a fantastic view and access to the many waterfalls.
Stop at the Vista House outside of Corbett, Oregon, along the Historic Columbia River Highway for a trip back into the 1920’s and displays on the lower level about early touring, the construction of the road, bridges and tunnels, and much more. I fell in love with this lovely art deco building–not just because the volunteers happened to be serving cookies when we stopped by.
Lewis and Clark Trail Exhibits
The Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center near The Dalles, Oregon, has some basic displays about Lewis and Clark and other educational displays in a beautiful building with nature trails and picnic areas outside.
Lewis and Clark Trail Reaches Pacific
West of Portland follow either side of the river to get to Cape Disappointment and the Washington State Park there. I found the state parks websites for Cape Disappointment and the Lewis and Clark State Park incredibly uninformative and unattractive.
2013is the 100th anniversary of Washington State Parks, and they have much to celebrate, but communication is not their strong point. From the parking lot at Cape Disappointment, there were no good signs, or sources of information for getting to the Lewis and Clark Center, which turned out to be a short, but steep uphill climb. (There is a handicapped parking lot a bit closer.) It is a shame that directions for getting around the park could not be made as clear as the directions to the day-use payment machine.
Because despite the annoyance, the area is evocative of the experience of the explorers and the Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center is an excellent museum giving a chronological presentation of the journey of the Corps of Discovery.
Lewis and Clark Trail Winters Over
After sharing Meriwether Lewis’ “Oh Joy!” at seeing the Pacific, drive south of Astoria Oregon and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park. (Of course at the moment you can’t even consult their website, let alone visit the park, because of the government shut-down.)
The small visitor center is attractive, but the gift shop is nearly as large as the museum area, which doesn’t hold a candle to the Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center in Washington. The woods around, although it has been timbered and replanted since Lewis and Clark were around, can fool you into thinking you’re following in their moccasins.
The main attraction here is the reconstruction of Fort Clatsop, where the Corps spent the winter before returning east. The fort is so tiny with its miniature parade ground that you wonder how they survived the closeness. On the other hand, compared to the way they had camped across the country, it might have seemed palatial.
Now that we have driven just a tiny bit of the Lewis and Clark trail, we would like to follow them all the way, and there are helpful guides for every mile of their journey. Have you ever followed a historical trail? Why not share your experience with us and see if any other readers have done the same.
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