Lewis and Clark Expedition Trail in Montana

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Lewis & Clark in Montana

Lewis and Clark’s Expedition logged significant miles through Montana – more than any other state. The trail is least altered at the Missouri Headwaters near Three Forks and Bozeman, Montana. Read More

  • Lewis and Clark saw three rivers joining the Missouri (Gallatin, Jefferson, and Madison) and named them for US Treasury Secretary Gallatin, and US Presidents Jefferson and Madison.
  • The 532-acre Missouri Headwaters State Park is located 31 miles from Bozeman, Montana off Interstate 90 and just a few miles from Three Forks.

Overview

Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition, which paved the way for pioneer settlers in the west, arrived at the Missouri Headwaters in 1805 about 30 miles from what would later become the city of Bozeman, Montana. Lewis and Clark saw three rivers joining the Missouri (Gallatin, Jefferson, and Madison) and named them for US Treasury Secretary Gallatin, and US Presidents Jefferson and Madison.

Location

The 532-acre Missouri Headwaters State Park is located 31 miles from Bozeman, Montana, off Interstate 90 and just a few miles from Three Forks.

Missouri River Headwaters State Park
Three Forks, Montana 59752 59752
(406) 285-3610

Directions

Take I-90 East of Bozeman and head 4 miles northeast of Three Forks, off of Hwy 205, then onto Hwy 286 to Missouri Headwaters State Park.

Hours

Open Daily

Fees

  • Free for Montana residents
  • $5 per vehicle
  • $15 camping per night, limited to consecutive nights

History

Sacagawea, a young Native American woman, was taken captive at Missouri Headwaters and returned with the Expedition as an interpreter and guide in 1805, exploring the Missouri Headwaters and Gallatin, Jefferson, and Madison Rivers, proceeding to the Continental Divide.

On the 1806 return trip through what is now called Bozeman Pass, Sacagawea suggested the explorers proceed up the Gallatin and East Gallatin area (Bozeman, Montana) toward the Yellowstone River. Famous trappers and traders like Jedediah Smith, Jim Bridger, William Sublette, and Kit Carson also explored here.

The headwaters area served as a prominent crossroads and hunting ground for Native American tribes, like the Blackfeet, Shoshone, Flathead, and Crow, many years before Lewis and Clark arrived.


Activities

  • Wildlife Viewing
    Includes a chance to see and photograph more than 250 bird species. Other wildlife include: beaver, mink, river otter, deer, herons, cranes, and eagles.
  • Outdoor interpretive signs
  • Picnic spots
  • Short hiking and biking trails (about 4 miles total)
  • Small campground
  • Rental tipi
  • Speaker series (Saturday nights, 7pm, June though August)
  • Rafting
    Kayakers and canoeists enjoy recreating the Lewis and Clark journey via Class I river conditions on their own or with experienced area guides and outfitters.
  • Headwaters Heritage Museum in Three Forks, Montana
    Features display Lewis and Clark artifacts, items from the pioneer fur trade, Native Americans, and area railroad history. Open June 1-Sept 30, 9am to 5pm, Monday – Saturday, and 11am to 3pm, Sunday. Located 202 Main Street, Three Forks, MT. Contact 406-285-4778.
  • Scenic Driving
    Head west along the Jefferson River Valley to Lemhi Pass, where Lewis and Clark first crossed the Continental Divide.
    Head east to visit the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, or follow the Yellowstone River to Pompey's Pillar, a National Monument, located 15 miles east of Billings, Montana, to view William Clark's signature carved on this scenic sandstone bluff.

More Information

1400 South 19th St.
Bozeman, MT 59715
406-994-4042

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