Lewis and Clark Expedition sites near Seaside and Cannon Beach, OR
The Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled through the present-day states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota, which had already been charted by white explorers. They then moved into the uncharted lands of Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, ending with a Northwest passage along the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.
Brief Summary of what the expedition experienced in the Pacific:
The expedition explored the Columbia River, which is the border between Oregon and Washington and empties into the Pacific Ocean. They explored areas on both sides of the river, going as far south as Seaside, OR and as far north as Long Beach, WA. Their first glimpse of the actual Pacific came on November 18th, 1805 when they hiked over the hill at Cape Disappointment in WA. They stayed at Cape Disappointment for awhile, and then they began building Fort Clatsop on December 9th, 1805, their winter quarters, near present-day Astoria, Oregon.
During the wet and miserable winter, the group rested and restocked their supplies, and continued to explore the region. They remained at Fort Clatsop until March 23, 1806.
What You Can See & Do within a days drive from Seaside and Cannon Beach, OR :
Dismal Nitch (Washington)
The expedition had been travelling on the Columbia River and was forced off due to a winter storm. They found shelter in an area they nicknamed ‘Dismal Nitch.’ Today this land and 150 acres surrounding it has been conserved, with a nearby area as a roadside rest area. There are wonderful views from this site of the Columbia River and the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the 4.1 mile-long bridge is 1,232 feet in length, the longest “continuous truss” in the world.
Station Camp (Washington)
After leaving Dismal Nitch, the Lewis and Clark Expedition settled at another camp site now called ‘Station Camp’, staying there from November 15th to 25th, 1805. They used it as a base for surveying and making a map of the mouth of the Columbia River. This area was a Chinook summer village called Middle Village, but was unoccupied because the Chinook were living in their winter village at the time. The Chinook people chose this spot because they could fish and hunt in the nearby forests, and the grasslands and forests provided materials needed to create shelter, clothing and household goods. The area had also become a popular place for European trading ships to come trade. This location become a dedicated park in 2012 and is located next to the Columbia River and on the curve of US 101 by St. Mary’s Catholic Church; the park is two miles west of the Astoria-Megler Bridge on US 101 and two miles east of the community of Chinook.
Cape Disappointment State Park (Washington)
Ilwaco, Washington, and Cape Disappointment State Park are at the mouth of the Columbia River. This is where the Lewis and Clark and The Corps of Discovery finally reached their goal in November, 1805 of viewing the Pacific Ocean. Visit the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park Interpretive Center for interactive exhibits that correspond to expedition journal entries, there is also an observation area of the ocean and Columbia River, a short film and a gift shop. Camping, walking trails, boating, and beachcombing are a few of the recreational opportunities available to Cape Disappointment State Park visitors.
Other attractions at the 1,882 acre Cape Disappointment State Park and the surrounding area include Fort Canby, the North Head Lighthouse (under construction for the remainder of 2016), the Colbert House Museum, Fort Columbia Interpretive Center, and Fort Columbia Commanding Officer’s House Museum.
The Corps of Discovery built their winter quarters, called Fort Clatsop, near modern-day Astoria, Oregon. The Fort is a replica built using the dimensions found in Clark’s journal. Visitors can tour the fort, see living reenactments of the Corps’ daily life, hike or paddle to Netul Landing, hike on the Fort to Sea Trail (see more below) and view replica dugouts at Canoe Landing. Inside the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center, you can explore exhibits, see two films, and check out the gift shop and bookstore.
Fort to Sea Trail (Oregon)
The 6.5 mile trail starts at Fort Clatsop and covers much of the land that the Corp of Discovery covered when they left the fort and traveled to Sunset Beach and Seaside. The trail’s terrain varies quite a bit, you hike through thick woods, wooded pastures, beach woods, and then end at Sunset beach.
Ecola State Park (Oregon)
Lewis and Clark were in search of a beached whale when they travelled through what is now Ecola State Park. Within the park you’ll find the 2.5-mile Clatsop Loop interpretive trail, where you can travel the same route used by the expedition members. Other activities include surfing at Indian Beach, picnicking, lighthouse viewing, walk-in camping, beach exploring and viewing gray whales throughout Winter and Spring. This area is located just north of Cannon Beach.
The Salt Works (Oregon)
Located in Seaside, Oregon, The Salt Works is part of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. Several Corps members established a ‘salt camp’ for most of January and February 1806. They used brass kettles to boil salt water from the sea so they could have salt to preserve their food. To reach the salt works, drive on U.S. Highway 101 to the town of Seaside. Turn west on Avenue G and follow the green signs to South Beach Drive and Lewis & Clark Way.
Turnaround statue (Oregon)
A bronze statue was installed in 1990 to commemorate the official end of the Lewis and Clark Trail. The statue is of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and their dog Seaman and faces the ocean at the west end of Broadway at the Turnaround on the center of the Prom (the promenade runs parallel with the ocean).