I second all the comments made so far about this tour. Starting in Great Falls, MT, was a perfect beginning. We got to experience the plains, the Missouri above the falls, the Rockies, the valleys in between, the arid plateaus of Washington and Oregon, the temperate rainforests of the Cascades, and the broad Columbia river emptying into the Pacific. Dams and other modernizations may have changed the landscape somewhat, but we still were able to get a good feel for what Lewis and Clark recorded in their journals. Our historian, Dr. Don Snow, was tireless in telling us the complicated story of the expedition, and the tour director, Nick Scramuzza, shepherded us through all the tour logistics with aplomb and humor. This is a unique tour and fulfilled a dream of mine to see what Lewis and Clark saw.
Lewis and Clark Tour: Undaunted Courage
The Lewis and Clark Expedition was the greatest camping trip of all time and the greatest hunting trip. And one of the greatest scientific expeditions ever. The drama of the story is intense, and the setting presents jaw-dropping vistas in every bend of the Trail. This range provides material for every interest and even draws on those who thought they would not be interested.
Experience jaw-dropping vistas in every bend of the trail and relive the dramatic story of Lewis and Clark. As part of Stephen Ambrose’s research for his best-selling book, Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, the Ambrose family spent vacations traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail on foot, canoe, and horseback. Our Lewis and Clark Tour is based on his journey following the path of Lewis and Clark from Great Falls, Montana, to the Pacific Coast. The authenticity of this Lewis and Clark Tour is unrivaled.
PLEASE NOTE: We offer a 3-day canoeing and camping pre-tour at the Missouri Breaks.
- Great Falls, Montana: The Lewis and Clark Train Interpretive Center and the C.M. Russell Museum: Center has indoor and outdoor exhibits that Stephen Ambrose called “the best anywhere;” Russell painted 4,000 works of art depicting the American West.
- Lemhi Pass on the Continental Divide and the headwaters of the Missouri River: Dinner cruise on the “River of No Return.”
- Old Fort Benton: The trading post for many Native American tribes and trappers and endpoint of steamboat travel between St. Louis and the west.
- Three Forks Headwaters State Park: Meriwether Lewis recognized it as "an essential point in the geography of this western part of the Continent." Here a local outfitter will treat us to a demonstration of the Girandoni air rifle carried by the expedition.
- Camp Fortunate: This is where Lewis and Clark made critical first contact with the Shoshone—Sacagawea's own people.
- Kamiah: This town within the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in Idaho is where the Corps encamped on their return trip to wait for better traveling weather. It is also home to “Heart of the Monster,” a rock formation that was part of Nez Perce folklore.
- Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area: Commemorates great moments in the exploration of the West.
- Fort Clatsop: Expedition’s winter camp on the Pacific Ocean.
DAY 1 Flight to Great Falls, MT
After arrival at our hotel in the historic town of Great Falls, MT, our own Corps of Discovery will gather to discuss our upcoming activities and the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. We have a Welcome Reception and Dinner at our hotel.
DAY 2 Great Falls, MT & Fort Benton
After breakfast, we will stop at a Lewis and Clark monument overlooking the Missouri River. We are on our way to Fort Benton, often called “The Birthplace of Montana.”
From there, we go to Decision Point at Loma, a pivotal location on the Corps of Discovery Trail. Here, Lewis and Clark made the crucial choice about which river to follow to reach the Northwest Passage — take the Marias or continue on the Missouri.
We will visit historic Old Fort Benton, the trading post for many Native American tribes and trappers, as well as the Missouri River levee. Fort Benton was the endpoint of steamboat travel between St. Louis and the west. We include a stop at the Agriculture Museum to view the Hornaday Bison.
We then return to Great Falls and The Lewis and Clark Trail Interpretive Center. Situated beside the Missouri River, the Center features indoor and outdoor exhibits that Stephen Ambrose called “outstanding—the best anywhere.” They include dioramas that depict the explorers, Sacagawea and her son Pomp, an Indian village, and many artifacts. A drive along the river takes us to Giant Springs and a view of the Falls.
DAY 3 Helena, MT
We begin the day with a visit to the C.M. Russell Museum. Russell was a world-renowned artist whose intimate knowledge of the American West informed his art during his lifetime. He was the first artist who actually lived most of his life in the Cowboy West and created approximately 4,000 works of art that inspired the work of many artists who took the West as their muse. Afterwards, we will visit the First Peoples Buffalo Jump, a site of prehistoric bison hunts.
In the afternoon, we travel by bus to the five-mile canyon that Meriwether Lewis christened “the gates of the Rocky Mountains.” We will take a boat ride into the magnificent Gates and look for bighorn sheep, deer, bald eagles, and osprey, who still call it home.
DAY 4 Three Forks, MT
We will begin the day at the Montana State Capitol in Helena, an outstanding example of architecture at the turn of the 20th century. The building, recently refurbished, features a beautiful stained-glass skyline in the rotunda and a great deal of artwork, including Russell's mural depicting Lewis and Clark and the Flathead Indians at Ross’ Hole, Montana. We visit the Three Forks Headwaters State Park, where upon arrival, Meriwether Lewis recognized it as "an essential point in the geography of this western part of the Continent.” We will end the day with a visit to the renowned Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman to take in the excellent exhibit on Crow Indian culture, Apsáalooke Women and Warriors.
DAY 5 Salmon, ID
Our Corps’ Day begins with a drive to Whitehall and its marvelous murals of the expedition and on to the Beaverhead Rock, which Sacagawea recognized as a landmark close to Shoshone tribal lands. We then head to Camp Fortunate, where Lewis and Clark made critical first contact with the Shoshone—Sacagawea's own people. Our next stop is Lemhi Pass on the Continental Divide and the Missouri River headwaters. We walk over the Divide in Lewis’ footsteps and down to where he first drank from the waters of the Columbia River. We will end the day with a dinner cruise on the “River of No Return” at Salmon, Idaho.
DAY 6 Missoula, MT
The day begins with a short drive along the Salmon River, exploring the route that William Clark found too wild to navigate.
We will continue with a visit to the Big Hole Battlefield National Monument, where in 1877, Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce put up a fierce defense in one of the battles between the tribe and U.S. Cavalry troops. We then travel north to Ross’ Hole, where Lewis and Clark encountered the Montana Salish Indians. We end our day at Traveler’s Rest on Lolo Creek, where Lewis and Clark camped, traveling west in 1805 and again in 1806, where they split up to explore Montana further.
DAY 7 Lewiston, ID
Our group will start the day with a stop atop Lolo Pass and the Corps’ Glade Creek Campsite, which Stephen Ambrose helped to preserve in its wilderness condition. After brief stops at the DeVoto Cedar Grove and Heart of the Monster, a key Nez Perce cultural site, we will proceed to Kamiah, where the Corps camped on their return trip to wait for better traveling weather. We will then head to the “Canoe Camp” in Orofino, Idaho, where the Corps built five dugout canoes for their downstream journey to the Pacific Ocean. Our last stop is a visit to the Nez Perce National Historical Park, dedicated to the tribe’s rich culture.
DAY 8 Walla Walla, WA
This day will start at the Hells Gate State Park on the border of Idaho and Washington. The park commemorates several pivotal moments in the history of the American West through interpretive signage and hiking trails. We then proceed to Walla Walla, stopping along the way at three important Lewis and Clark sites: the Alpowai Village site at Chief Timothy State Park, the Patit Creek campsite near Dayton, Washington, and the Touchet River campsite near Waitsburg. Our day ends at the Whitman Mission National Historic Site, a 19th-century memorial to the unique challenges presented by the cultural divide between Christian missionaries and Native American tribes.
DAY 9 Hood River, OR
The morning will find our group at Sacajawea State Park, where the Snake River meets the Columbia, and a major site where Lewis and Clark encountered the Yakama and Wanapum Indians. From there, it’s down the Columbia, stopping along the way at Hat Rock State Park, near where the Corps met the Walla Walla Indian people, and then to Celilo Falls and the start of the Long Narrows – among the most important ancient fishing sites of the Columbia River basin. We’ll visit the Rock Fort Camp in The Dalles, Oregon, and then the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, with its excellent Lewis and Clark exhibit. We finish the day with a short trip along the original U.S. Highway 30 with spectacular views of the Columbia River Gorge.
DAY 10 Portland, OR
We’ll start the day in the Cascades section of the Columbia River and the remnants of the immense landslide which caused the Bridge of the Gods, which Lewis and Clark correctly observed. We’ll visit the Bonneville Dam, constructed as a part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal” program in the 1930s and named for an early explorer of the Oregon Trail. At the Bonneville fish hatchery, we’ll pay a visit to Herman the Sturgeon, an 11-foot-long, 79-year-old fish native to the Columbia River. We will stop at Multnomah Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the United States, and then the Sandy River, Lewis and Clark’s “Quick Sand River.” We’ll end this short road day in Portland-Vancouver, with time left to enjoy some urban exploring.
DAY 11 Portland, OR
Our last day on the heels of Lewis and Clark will take us to the Oregon Coast. We will visit the Astoria Column, where the observation deck allows visitors breathtaking views of both the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River. We will continue with a visit to the Columbia River Maritime Museum, dedicated to preserving artifacts related to the exploration of the Pacific Northwest. We will proceed on to Fort Clatsop, the 1805-06 winter encampment of the Corps of Discovery near the Pacific Ocean. We will continue to Seaside, where we will enjoy the sights of this beautiful coastal town and visit the Salt Works National Historic Site, where men of the Corps spent six weeks boiling sea water for 28 gallons of needed salt. We salute our trip with our farewell dinner in Portland.
DAY 12 Flight Home
This morning, our Corps will say goodbye to the Pacific Northwest and our Lewis and Clark adventure.
- June 28 - July 1, 2023 Canoeing & Camping pre-tour
- July 1 - 12, 2023
TRIP COST $4,990
Price is per person based on double occupancy. For a single room add $1,100.
PRE-TOUR CAMPING AND CANOEING TRIP $1,400
Price is per person based on double occupancy. For a single room add $200.