Lewis and Clark in Oregon
It doesn't take a child's imagination to be amazed and awed by the accomplishments and struggles of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Under the leadership of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, a group of 33 brave and strong individuals traveled 3,700 miles from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. They traveled by boats, on horseback and on foot. They crossed raging rivers, faced starvation and hardships, and encountered native tribes who were both willing and interested in trading and concerned about losing their land. They hunted, and sometimes were hunted by, the unfamiliar animals that lived in the uncharted places they traveled. They observed, counted, recorded and most of all, found a route to the Pacific Ocean. And they did it all without a map. In, fact, they were literally off the map.
This year marks the bicentennial of the time that the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery spent at their destination, the Pacific Ocean. For the Corps, their time along the Columbia River, at Fort Clatsop and on the Pacific was some of the most difficult. No matter your age, a visit to the places where the Corps spent their incredibly difficult winter 200 years ago is an inspiring opportunity to walk in the steps of history and explore spectacular natural beauty. And there is no better way to discover what they experienced than to take the time to travel the expedition's route. Whether you travel their path with family or friends, or by yourself, there is a lot to see and do and learn — and you'll have a lot of fun along the way.
How to Use the Explorer Guides
To make it easy to plan your own Lewis and Clark adventure, OPB, in collaboration with the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and Destination: The Pacific, has designed seven trips that are sure to bring the spirit of the Corps to life. Focusing on certain aspects of the Corps' accomplishments and adventures, every trip includes visits to parks in Washington or Oregon, interpretive information, historic sites, trails, beaches and scenic views.
These day-long adventures are designed to include something for everyone — the nature lover, the scientist, the history buff, the boat lover, the path finder, the writer, the photographer and of course, the family seeking a wonderful way to combine learning with fun.
Whether you're taking a drive on your own or traveling with children, there are a variety of ways you can use these guides as you walk in the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark expedition. For example:
- Using one of the guides, plan a day trip and try the suggested activities (hike the Tillamook Head Trail, pack a Lewis and Clark picnic to eat on the beach at Seaside, etc.).
- Choose one of your interests or hobbies (such as photography or botany) and select activities from the guides with that focus (take pictures of elk in Ecola State Park, examine the beautifully preserved plant samples at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, etc.).
- Select destinations and activities from several guides and combine them together for a longer trip.
- For more information and ideas about topics and places to visit related to the Corps of Discovery, schedule a stop at one of the main visitor centers for the Lewis and Clark National Historical Parks.
- If you're traveling with young children, be sure to check out the section in each guide on "Activities to Try With Your Children" for fun learning activities that families can do together.
- The Corps of Discovery explorers observed, wrote, drew, mapped and collected specimens. In the spirit of the expedition, older children and adults might enjoy creating and keeping a journal of their travels.
What to Bring
So you're ready to fully enjoy your trip, and to try the activities with children if you're traveling as a family, fill a backpack with:
- Field guides (flower, plant and animal books)
- Magnifying glass
- Pen or pencil and journal
- Ruler for measuring
- Crayons, color pens or pencils for drawing
- Camera if you have one
- Water bottles
How Would You Vote If Your Life Depended On It?
One of the most critical moments of the journey led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark was their decision to poll the Corps about where to spend the winter after reaching the Pacific Ocean. Visit this site to learn more about the vote and events leading up to it, and then cast your own vote.
The Journals of Lewis & Clark
This version of the journals, edited by Gary E. Moulton, includes numerous notes.
This site, by the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, is beautiful and informative.
This site features an interactive journey log, expedition records, a forum and more.
Visit this National Park Service site for information about park sites in Oregon and Washington, such as Fort Clatsop, Ecola State Park, Cape Disappointment State Park and more.
This site features a list of links compiled by the Multnomah County Library related to the Lewis & Clark expedition.
Visit this site for current information about special events, features and exhibits throughout the Bicentennial.
This site is based on information and images from Ken Burns' film LEWIS & CLARK: "The Journey of the Corps of Discovery." There's a lot to learn and do on this site, including an interactive trail map.
OPB's Lewis and Clark Explorer Guides were created in collaboration with the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and Destination: The Pacific.
About the Authors
Destination: The Pacific
Destination: The Pacific is the nationally sanctioned Signature Event commemorating the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. The committee's goal is to provide a memorable experience for participants and a lasting legacy for the lower Columbia River region of Oregon and Washington. Special thanks to Cyndi Mudge, executive director.
Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park preserves sites that commemorate the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery's expedition to the Pacific. Special thanks to Chip Jenkins, superintendent and Jill Harding, chief of visitor services.
Tobi Kibel Piatek
Tobi Kibel Piatek is a writer and educator who specializes in the development of education-based projects, information and materials for Web and print. She designs graphics, Web sites and publications, and writes OPB's Teacher Resource Service Programming Guide.