American pioneers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark met in Louisville, Kentucky on October 14, 1803 in preparation of what would amount for the first cross-country road trip in the United States. The adventurer’s trip lasted almost three years before they finished their round trip arriving in St. Louis, Missouri on September 23, 1806. Granted a great deal of the trip took place along waterways and such, you can still take this legendary American road trip today.
Lewis and Clark were commissioned by U.S. President Thomas Jefferson to explore the land contained in The Louisiana Purchase, the land purchase from the French that doubled the size of the United States in 1803. The Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, not only were tasked with finding the best route west but they also had scientific, economic, and political aspect to it too. All in all, a lot rode on this road trip for a young nation.
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail spans over 3700 miles covering 11 states from Illinois to the Pacific Ocean. Each state has a visitor center attached to the trail and other various activities and centers associated with the expedition to entertain and educate travelers. An interactive map of the trail is available from the National Park Service.
The trail is accessible via car, bus, bicycle, and parts can even be explored via waterway travel. Travelers can view reenactments of the expedition, explore the beauty of nature through various activities like hiking through the Bitterroot Mountains in Idaho, whitewater rafting the Missouri River through Montana, or explore the rolling hills and meadows throughout the entire trek.
The trail and its centers are open year round so you can experience the various landscapes of the trail through all four seasons if you desire to see parts of the trail in the same way Lewis and Clark did over 200 years ago.
It is a great way to experience an iconic American trip and combine it with some American history to experience true Americana. And don’t worry it shouldn’t take you three years to complete like it did for Lewis and Clark.