How to Follow the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark in Pacific County

Oct 23, 2017 | Fall, Family Fun, History, Recreation

You could hardly consider a visit to the Long Beach Peninsula complete without mention of Lewis and Clark. For ten days in mid-November of 1805, the Lewis and Clark party, formally known as the Corps of Discovery, explored the Peninsula. Today, you can experience some of the same landmarks the Corps of Discovery came across as well as find monuments commemorating their journey.

Here are five ways to follow in their footsteps during your visit to the Long Beach Peninsula.

1. Visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park.

Follow the Lewis and Clark journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Coast in the interpretive center’s exhibits and theater with a special focus on their experiences in Pacific County. They also have an exhibit detailing the history of Cape Disappointment post-Lewis and Clark. If nothing else, go for the view. This interpretive center sits 200 feet above the confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean and offers a panoramic view.

Before you go: Be sure to get a Discover Pass since this is a Washington State Park. The interpretive center admission fees are $5 for adults, $2.50 for children ages 7-17, and free for children 6 and under.

2. Plan a trip along the Discovery Trail.

Winding between Ilwaco and Long Beach, the Discovery Trail takes you on an 8.5 mile journey through forests and dunes. The trail mirrors part of Clark’s journey along the Peninsula’s coastline. Whether you choose to walk or ride a bike, this is a great way to enjoy the landscape as well as a bit of history. You will find installments, monuments, and sculptures commemorating different parts of Lewis and Clark’s journey along the coastline. These are all based on entries from Clark’s journal.

Before you go: Stop by the Visitors Bureau or email to get a free copy of the Discovery Trail Map.

3. Explore Fort Columbia State Park.

The Chinook people called this location home generations before the arrival of Lewis and Clark. Fort Columbia is now one of the few intact coastal defense sites in the United States. Not only is this a great place to learn about the Chinook people, it’s an exciting way to get a taste of the landscape the Corps explored. Chinook Point, a National Historic Landmark located within the park, is noted in Clark’s journal.

Before you go: You will need a Discover Pass. Hours are 6:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. in the summer and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the winter.

4.Go to Clark’s Dismal Nitch and enjoy the view.

One mile east of the Astoria-Megler Bridge on Highway 401, you can view the small cove where the Corps of Discovery found itself trapped by an intense storm for five days. Because of the storm, they missed the last trading ship of the season and a chance at supplies before settling in for the winter. Today, Clark’s Dismal Nitch is a much more accommodating place for travelers with public restrooms, picnic tables, and information panels.

Before you go: Bring binoculars and pack a lunch! This is a great spot for views of the Columbia River and the bridge as well as bird watching. You can also view sturgeon and salmon fishing, seals and sea lions, and the occasional whale.

5. Stop by Station Camp where the Corps of Discovery first viewed the Pacific Ocean.

Not only is this the location where Lewis and Clark first viewed the Pacific Ocean, it is also where the Corps of Discovery took the historic vote on their winter encampment. This site has layers of history reaching beyond the ten day period the Corps spent there. Archaeological evidence shows this was once an important Chinook trading village. This small park includes a boardwalk, information panels, replicas of Chinook canoes, and a gorgeous view of the Columbia River.

Before you go: Don’t forget to bring your camera! There are little gems you’ll want to capture like the historic church and gorgeous view.

Visit us at the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau

-Pick up your free copy of the Discovery Trail map as well as the Journey’s End Map to help you find monuments, sculptures, and other historical sites to visit.

-Get awesome poster art of sites you visit for $5 like the one below.

Other Resources for Your Trip

Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

-Washington Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation

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