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 Lewis and Clark Safari
- Fort Stevens State Park, a unit of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
The Corps of Discovery identified new species everywhere they went. Their journals include descriptions of squirrels, double-crested cormorants, stellar jays, harbor seals, Roosevelt elk, sea otters, the common crow and literally hundreds more creatures. They were all new to the explorers, and new to President Thomas Jefferson, too.
The Corps of Discovery recorded seeing all different types of wildlife on their journey, from tiny squirrels and birds to giant whales. Many of the creatures that were seen by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition are still in the rivers and oceans, in the woods and on the wing today at Fort Stevens State Park.
As you hike or bike the trails, spend time on the beach, stay in the campground or explore the historic coastal fortifications, take time to pay attention to the wildlife you see. Tune your ears for bird songs and calls, and keep your eyes peeled for the flit of a furry tail, the flicker of a deer's ear or the flap of a whale tail. No matter how often you come across wildlife in its natural habitat, it's always a thrill. Make sure you have your camera, your sketchbook and your binoculars handy so you can capture the wildlife you encounter in a photo, drawing, written description or your memory. (Note: Be sure to leave the animals and their habitats as you find them.)
If you drive to the park from Astoria, tell your passengers to watch closely as you go across the Astoria-Warrenton Bridge. It's an excellent place to see bald eagles, blue herons, Caspian terns, cormorants and other birds.
Drive to the end of the park road in parking areas C and D. In addition to stunning views of the mouth of the Columbia River and Astoria, there is abundant bird life. Off a short trail from parking lot D, there is a wildlife blind where you can watch the wide variety of birds. A viewing platform with a 360-degree view of the Columbia River Bar and beach at Fort Stevens is located at parking lot C.
The paved bike trails that leave from parking lot A, Battery Russell parking lot and Coffenbury Lake parking lot and campground offer excellent opportunities to view not only birds, but other wildlife including deer, coyote, elk, fox and occasionally a bear.
More To Do and See:
Visit the skeleton of the Peter Iredale, a shipwreck on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park. The beach offers not only a fun place for kids to play, but excellent whale watching during the winter months.
Go fishing! Several charter boat companies operate out of the Hammond and Warrenton Marinas. Try your hand at catching a Chinook or king salmon, halibut or sturgeon. For kids who are just learning how, Coffenbury Lake is a great place to catch their first fish.
Everybody works up an appetite for lunch when they visit the beach. Warrenton and Hammond offer grocery stores, cafés and small markets.
Bring your bike. There are almost 15 miles of bike paths that extend throughout Fort Stevens State Park. All are relatively flat and easy so even those on trikes can have some fun.
Explore the original homeland security system. Beginning with the Clatsop Indians who lived on Point Adams, people have used this area to keep watch for threats to their homeland. From the Civil War through World War II, the U.S. government constructed and continually maintained a network of coastal defense batteries (i.e., gun emplacements) throughout what was the Fort Stevens Military Reservation. Today, you can explore some of these batteries or attend one of the frequent re-enactments hosted by Oregon State Parks. Also, visit the museum in the historic district where you can learn about the Japanese submarine that shelled the fort during World War II.
Activities To Try With Your Children:
You will need: The bingo cards you created, marker, crayon or colored pen
As you and your children hike or bike through the places where the Corps found so much wildlife to describe and draw, encourage your kids to take on the role of curious explorers and observers by trying to spot as many different animals as they can. To make this even more fun, play a game of "animal bingo."
Let's Play Animal Bingo!
- Before you leave for your trip, create a bingo card with either animal names or animal pictures. A card for younger children might include a bird, a fish, an insect, a mammal, a frog, etc. Older or more sophisticated children might enjoy finding specific animals, e.g., a Roosevelt elk, a white-tailed deer or a bald eagle. (Or, instead of a card, you might create a list with boxes for your child to check off.)
- While on the trail, ask your child to keep her animal bingo card and a marker, crayon or colored pen handy. Each time your child finds one of the items on the card, ask her to cross off that spot. If you like, three "Xs" in a row wins a treat.
- Your children can also collect some "nature finds" that Lewis and Clark might have seen: sand dollars, feathers, seashells, etc.
Driving Instructions to Fort Stevens State Park:
Take Highway 101 south from Astoria over the Young's Bay bridge to the first stop light. Turn right and go all the way through Warrenton and Hammond. The road leads into old Fort Stevens. Fee of $3. New Fort Stevens is about two miles south with good signs. Restrooms available.
Coffenbury Lake is on the grounds of Fort Stevens State Park. There is good signage. Restrooms available.