Start your quest to follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark at the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center. You’ll receive a brochure with information about the twelve sites spread over 40 miles which comprise the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. Peruse the gift shop for guidebooks, maps, toys and an extensive selection of books.
The staff recommended Stephen Ambrose’s “Undaunted Courage” to gain an informative understanding of the epic journey.
Browse the exhibit hall which includes a detailed list of preparations for the journey, a panoramic map of the expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific, their clothing, rifles and muskets which were used for hunting, trading and self-defense, the tools they utilized, a replica of a canoe and a diorama of the natives showing the explorers a beached whale.
View the two orientation movies: “Confluence of Time and Courage” about their journey and “A Clatsop Winter Story,” representing Native American views of the visitors, with their different customs and rules.
As you walk from the visitor center to the replica of the fort, passing a statue of Sacagawea and her son, you sense the history and what it must have been like for the Corps of Discovery when they arrived in the fall, 1805. You can easily visualize them exploring the area, building the fort and developing good relations and trading with the local tribes. While the fort is small, you can enter each room and envision their awe inspiring adventure.
Stroll the 1.5 mile Netul River Trail from the fort to Netul Landing and picnic area. Or opt for the 6.5 mile Fort to Sea Trail, to Sunset Beach recreation area.
Close by is Ecola State Park, with its dramatic coastal scenery. It is an ideal spot for hiking, picnicking and exploring two beaches. During winter and spring, you may see migrating gray whales from the overlooks.
Visit nearby Les Shirley Park and Whale Park in northern Cannon Beach, commemorating the spot of the beached whale. Cannon Beach is thought to be the southernmost point of their journey.
Nearby Fort Stevens has camping, six miles of hiking trails, nine miles of bike trails, fishing, an historic shipwreck and a military museum.
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park comprises exhibits concentrating on discoveries along the Columbia River. It was here that the Corps of Discovery, after traversing 4,000 miles, first saw the Pacific.
To plan your adventure: https://www.nps.gov/lewi/index.htm
Published in NW Travel Magazine, Fall 2016
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