Portage around the Great Falls of the Missouri, Montana

If the trek from St. Louis to the Mandan villages, against the current was difficult for Lewis and Clark, the portage around the Great Falls of the Missouri was next to impossible. The Great Falls are a stretch of the Missouri River where the channel drops some 400 feet over 10 miles. In order to circumvent this obstacle, the men of the Corps of Discovery would have to haul all of their belongings piecemeal over an 18 mile land trail. It took the men eight trips and roughly thirty days of intense physical labor to get all of their equipment past the falls. The captains had anticipated the portage would take only a week. Today, the falls have been modified by dams that generate hydroelectric power for the city of Great Falls. Portions of the portage route are visible from the Giant Springs side of the River. In addition to the portage route, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center is located in a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. The Interpretive Center features exhibits on Lewis and Clark as well as specifics regarding the portage around the Great Falls.

The Great Falls of the Missouri are subsumed within the town of Great Falls. From U.S. 87/89, follow the 10th Avenue exit.

Lemhi Pass National Historic Landmark, Montana

Lemhi Pass is located along the Continental Divide, at 7,323 feet above sea level. It was here in 1805 that Lewis and Clark passed out of the boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase Territory. They also got their first glimpse of the headwaters of the Columbia River, that would carry them to the Pacific Ocean. Today, the Lemhi Pass area remains much as it did when Lewis and Clark were in the area. Development has been kept to a minimum, and as a result, plant and animal life are abundant. Signs and markers interpret the activities of Lewis and Clark during the summer months.

Location Map and Directions.