Plan your own Lewis and Clark adventure using these travel guides that are sure to bring the spirit of the Corps to life. How to use these guides
A Day in the Life
Destination: Fort Clatsop, a unit of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
It was still raining on Christmas Eve day in 1805 when Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery were finally "snuggly fixed in their huts" at Fort Clatsop, the stockade fort they had built to spend the winter of 1805-06. Named after the local Clatsop Indians, Fort Clatsop was located in lush forest with easy access to wetlands and wildlife. The Corps used their time here to prepare for the long trip back to St. Louis. During their stay, the 33-member party spent most of the winter hunting, gathering and storing food. They also spent time learning from the Clatsop people, making moccasins and buckskin clothing, making candles, reworking their maps and journals (perhaps most important from a historical perspective), carving dugout canoes, trading with the local Indians and making salt.
Discover the land that was the home of the Clatsop Indians and the place where the Corps "wintered over." A visit to Fort Clatsop offers many wonderful things to do — you can explore the forests, travel along the coastal rivers and lakes, and traverse the coastal dunes. Wherever you choose to go, watch for signs of wildlife such as elk, deer and eagle — or even bear, bobcat and beaver. Be sure to leave plenty of time to visit the Interpretive Center at Fort Clatsop to learn about, and experience firsthand, what life was really like for the explorers.
More To Do and See:
Explore the replica of Fort Clatsop that was created from the floor plan in Clark's journal. Imagine living in these cramped quarters with 32 other people, including a 1-year-old baby and a 180-pound Newfoundland dog. Lie down on the "Cedar" Posturepedic (cedar plank beds), use a quill pen at one of the Captain's desks, look at what's for dinner in the storeroom or stand guard at the sentry's post.
The Fort Clatsop Visitor's Center offers films, exhibits and audiovisual programs provided by park rangers. The Fort Clatsop Historical Association sells books, maps and postcards at the Gift Shop & Museum Store.
Eat lunch or dinner at Fort Clatsop's picnic area. Also, check out the Fort to Sea Trail — great hiking trails located nearby.
Netul Landing offers a canoe/kayak landing that also serves as the end of the Columbia River Water Trail, a viewing platform of the Lewis and Clark River, a newly installed bronze statue of Sacagawea by Jim Demetro and interpretive panels.
Netul River Trail will be constructed by the end of summer 2005. This one-mile trail between Netul Landing and the Visitor Center/Fort Clatsop will run along the banks of the Lewis and Clark River, providing ample opportunity to view wildlife, the surrounding forest and Saddle Mountain in the distance.
Note: Netul is the name the Clatsop gave to this river and is what the river is called in the Lewis and Clark Journals. Netul Landing and Trail have been named in honor of this place as the Clatsop homeland.
Special Programs for Bicentennial Years Include:
- "A Bicentennial Christmas at Fort Clatsop" — Help the Corps celebrate Christmas as they move into their quarters; December 25-27, 2005.
- "Snuggly fixed in their huts" — Meet the Corps as they spend the winter at Fort Clatsop; December 26 & 27, 2005.
- The Return Home — The National Park Service at Fort Clatsop and the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes host a special ceremony to commemorate the departure of the Corps from their winter camp and to honor the Native people who remained; March 23, 2006.
- Ride the Explorer Shuttle to Fort Clatsop from Astoria, or one of the other community stops, and receive a free token for the Astoria Riverfront Trolley and a Commemorative Bicentennial Ticket. No reservations or advance tickets needed; June 13 to September 5, 2005.
Activities To Try With Your Children:
Explore the Replica of Fort Clatsop
Children (and adults too) will enjoy seeing the replica of the fort the Corps of Discovery constructed as winter quarters. The authentic fort is furnished with hand-hewn wooden bunks, tables, benches and chairs, and serves as an "outdoor museum" that makes history fun. Park rangers dressed in buckskins tell what daily life was like when the Corps was here. They make candles, sew moccasins and clothing, tan hides and fire flintlock rifles and muskets. They also provide real-life, hands-on experiences for visitors, including writing with a quill pen, making flint and steel fires, candle making and learning about furs and the fun and games of the expedition.
Play Traditional Native American Games
You will need: Sticks and two stones or balls that are different colors
To pass the time during the long winter at Fort Clatsop, the Corps of Discovery would sometimes play traditional Native American games. As a way to remember and continue talking about your family's visit to Fort Clatsop, try playing these Native American games when you return home.
Pass the Stone
Guessing games were popular among Native American children. Try this one:
- Invite children to sit with you in a circle.
- Hold two small stones or balls of different colors in your closed hand.
- Pass one ball to the child to your right, without letting her see the color.
- Ask the child to guess the color of the ball you have passed to her. If the child guesses correctly, give her both balls. She then passes one ball to the next child.
- The next child then guesses which color ball has been passed. If that child guesses correctly, both balls are passed to him and the game continues. If the child guesses incorrectly, he moves out of the circle and the game continues.
- Continue the game until one child is left in the circle.
Little Sticks (like "Pick-Up Sticks")
- Drop a bundle of thin cedar sticks from your hand.
- Two players take turns trying to remove sticks from the tangled heap without moving any of the others.
- A basket splint (a plain straight stick) is sometimes used to pick up the sticks.
Visiting Fort Clatsop:
Fort Clatsop is located six miles southwest of Astoria, Oregon off of Business Highway 101. From Highway 101 the route to Fort Clatsop and the Visitor Center is well marked by new signs just installed by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
503-861-2471, ext. 214
Park Web site: www.nps.gov/lewi/
June 13 Through Labor Day
Fort Clatsop is open 9am-6pm. Admission is $5 and includes three-days use of the Lewis and Clark Explorer Shuttle and a token to ride the Astoria Trolley. Limited parking is available at Netul Landing.
Labor Day Through May 31
Fort Clatsop is open 9am-5pm and admission is $3.
For group reservations, please call 503-861-2471.