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Without This Woman’s Help, Lewis and Clark Were Goners
Day 1 – St. Louis, MO – Arrive in St. Louis, MO for the night. You will have time to freshen up before a festive welcome dinner at the site of Camp Wood where the Corps prepared for their epic journey during the winter of 1803. (D)
Day 2 – Missouri History Museum / Historic St. Charles – Your journey retracing the steps of the Corps of Discovery begins with a visit to the Missouri History Museum library for a special behind-the-scenes look at Lewis & Clark artifacts, a special showing of the outstanding National Geographic IMAX film, “Great Journey West”, and then to the Confluence of the rivers where it all began.
Next is historic St. Charles, a thriving fur-trading settlement at the time of the Corps’ departure in 1804, and their last sight of “civilization”. You stroll the same cobblestone streets and learn about the expedition’s final departure preparations before heading west to our overnight in Columbia, MO. (B)
Day 3 – Arrow Rock / Fort Osage – Lewis noted the Arrow Rock bluff and nearby salt licks on the 1804 outbound journey. This morning, you visit the charming historic town which grew up around it, and meet the living history reenactors at the replica of Fort Osage, which was built at the suggestion of Williams Clark to protect the growing fur trade in the West. After lunch tour the amazing Arabia Steamboat Museum for a look at period lifestyles and trade goods, and visit other historically significant sites in the area. You will overnight in Kansas City, MO this evening. (B, L)
Day 4 – St. Joseph / Council Bluffs – Two months after departing from St. Louis, the Corps of Discovery was still in present-day Missouri. Fortunately our latter-day journey is measured in days instead of years. Before departing the state, you tour the historic sites of St. Joseph with a local expert, including the excellent Remington Nature Center. The river turns northward here as you head for Council Bluffs, named for the Corps’ first encounter with Native Americans. End the day with a riverside interpretive supper and an overnight stay in Council Bluffs. (B, D)
Day 5 – Fort Atkinson / Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center – The journey continues with a tour of Fort Atkinson, yet another frontier fort built on the recommendation of Wm. Clark. You will also tour the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, pay your respects to Sgt. Floyd (the only casualty of the entire journey), plus a few surprises along the way. Your overnight tonight is in South Sioux City, NE. (B)
Day 6 – Ponca State Park / Spirit Mound – This morning, you will truly walk where history happened, at Spirit Mound, the unique geological formation (reputed to be the home of 18″ devils) which the Corps climbed on their passage upstream. Gavin’s Point Dam, the site of the first encounter with the Yankton Sioux and an authentic meal served on the banks of the Missouri River top off a perfect day on the Northern Plains. Tonight’s accommodations are at the Cedar Shores Resort, overlooking the Missouri River just north of Chamberlain, SD. (B, D)
Day 7 – Akta Lakota Museum – This morning you visit world famous St. Joseph Indian School where the outstanding Akta Lakota Museum offers a view of the Native Americans whose lives were so affected by the course of events set in motion by the discoveries of the expedition. Enjoy lunch on the banks of the Bad River where the Corps encountered their first “hostile” natives. After a day full of natural wonders, you check into your Bismarck, ND for a two night stay. (L)
Day 8 – North Dakota Heritage Center / Lewis & Clark Riverboat – The latter-day Fort Abraham Lincoln (Lt. Col G.A. Custer’s last assignment) was built adjacent to an ancient earth lodge village which was already abandoned when Lewis & Clark sailed by. Tour the rebuilt lodges at On-A-Slant Village and visit the outstanding exhibits at the North Dakota Heritage Center before boarding the Lewis & Clark Riverboat for a dinner cruise on the mighty Missouri which has become a familiar friend over the course of this journey. Return to Bismarck after dinner. (B, D)
Day 9 – Fort Mandan / Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center / Knife River Indian Villages – Today, you visit the site where the Corps of Discovery wintered under the watchful eyes of the Mandans and Hidatsas. Visit the Fort Mandan replica and the new Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center which features a complete set of the Bodmer prints. Bodmer produced more than 400 renderings of the Native Americans and natural wonders he encountered on his own western voyage just 30 years after Lewis and Clark blazed the trail.
Through his paintings, you will see the undisturbed terrain as the first whites saw it almost 200 years ago. This afternoon travel to the only park in the National Park System which is set aside to commemorate the Plains Indian: Knife River Indian Villages. The outstanding interpretive center and model earth lodge shed light on the people who continually inhabited this site for as long as 500-600 years ago to 1845. Tonight, you overnight in Williston, ND. (B)
Day 10 – Fort Union / Pompeys Pillar – Another eventful day begins with a tour of the beautifully restored Fort Union. Established by John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company, Fort Union was the most important fur trading post on the Missouri River between 1822 and 1867. Next visit Pompeys Pillar National Historic Landmark, named for Sacagawea’s infant son. Captain Clark carved his name in the rock on the return trip in 1806, and it remains today one of the few physical evidences left by the Corps along the Lewis & Clark Trail. Overnight Lodging tonight in Billings, MT. (B, D)
Day 11 – Missouri Headwaters / Gates of the Mountains Boat Tour – On this morning’s agenda is a visit to Missouri River Headwaters State Park where Lewis & Clark discovered (and named) the confluence of the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Rivers. After a picnic lunch, it’s on to the Gates of the Mountains, named by Lewis after towering cliffs appeared to block the way up the Missouri River. As the expedition neared the cliffs and changed directions, the cliffs seemed to pull apart like a huge gate. An interpretive boat ride will afford you much the same sights that awed Lewis and the men. You will then spend the next two nights in Great Falls, MT. (B, L)
Day 12 – Fort Benton / C.M. Russell Museum / Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center – Your first stop this morning is to historic Fort Benton, a bustling nineteenth century river port, and the highest point on the river served by steamboats. Montana’s famous cowboy artist, Charlie Russell, wasn’t on the scene when our heroes struggled with the great falls the Indians had warned them of. But he did commemorate the era of westward expansion that the Corps of Discovery opened up. Visit the outstanding C.M. Russell museum. A highlight of your journey is the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls, one of the newest and best along the trail. In addition to the marvelous exhibits, you will enjoy living history programs and an outdoor dinner. (B,D)
Day 13 – Lolo Trail / Nez Perce National Historic Park – Traveling the Lolo Trail will be far more pleasant for you than for the Corps, which suffered greatly from cold and hunger along this extraordinarily beautiful passage. Your local guide will help you to understand the chronology as you travel westward and enjoy a picnic lunch along the way. Visit the canoe camp, where the expedition halted to hollow out logs as the Natives had instructed them. To learn more about these inhabitants who were meeting their first white men, you stop at the visitors’ center at the Nez Perce National Historic Park. Tonight, you overnight in Clarkston, WA. (B, L)
Day 14 – Sacajawea State Park / Columbia Gorge Discovery Center – At the site of present day Sacajawea State Park (the spelling varies, depending upon what state you are in!) the Corps of Discovery met with local inhabitants, and as they had so many times before, made ceremonial presentations and speeches. You will pause where the Snake River joins the Columbia to discuss some of the events which took place here on Oct. 17-18, 1805. The outstanding Columbia Gorge Discovery Center will highlight this afternoon’s agenda. You overnight in Hood River, OR this evening. (B)
Day 15 – Columbia River Gorge / Multnomah Falls / Fort Clatsop – Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and Multnomah Falls highlight your morning’s journey. Then it’s on to winter camp at the recreation of Fort Clatsop, the capstone of our Lewis & Clark adventure. A gala farewell dinner rounds out the day and your journey, as you compare notes and recount your own highlights. You will be staying in Astoria, OR this evening. (B,D)
Day 16 – Salt Works/ Willamette Valley/ Depart for Home – This morning visit the Salt Works. Much of the Corps’ stay on the North Coast was spent securing sustenance for the winter and provisions for the trip home. By the time they reached the lower Columbia River region, the Corps had run out of valuable salt for seasoning food, and, perhaps more important, preserving meat. Nearby rivers weren’t salty enough, but a site 15 miles southwest of Fort Clatsop proved perfect. What’s more, there were homes of local Clatsop and Tillamook Indians nearby, local experts who could help the Corps members.
You also visit the Willamette Valley, the largest river valley in Oregon. Lewis and Clark were briefly at the north end of the Willamette Valley in 1806, but American and British fur traders were the first non-indigenous people to travel its length. You then depart for home this afternoon. (B)
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