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[photo] Several views of Travelers' Rest State Park
Courtesy of Traveler's Rest Preservation and Heritage Association

Traveler's Rest, Montana, an undisturbed area of meadows along a branch of the Bitterroot River, was a pivotal site of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. After being unable to find a water route from the Shoshone village to the Pacific, the Corps of Discovery paused here for two days, before beginning the most arduous part of their journey over the Lolo Trail. On September 9, 1805, Lewis wrote:

. . .we continued our rout down the W. side of the [Bitterroot] river about 5 miles further and encamped on a large creek which falls in on the West. as our guide inform[ed] me that we should leave the river at this place and the weather appearing settled and fair I determined to halt the next day rest our horses and take some scelestial observations. we called this Creek Traveler's rest. (DeVoto 1997, 236)

[photo]Recent archeological study at Travelers' Rest State Park
Courtesy of Traveler's Rest Preservation and Heritage Association

Lewis estimated Traveler's Rest to be 20 yards wide. The expedition also camped at Traveler's Rest on their return trip from June 30 to July 3, 1806, to allow the men and horses to recuperate from the trek back over the Lolo Trail. Clark described the company's arrival at the site:

. . . a little before Sunset we arrived at our old encampment on the S. side of the Creek a little above its entrance into Clarks river. here we Encamped with a view to remain 2 days in order to rest ourselves and horses and make our final arrangements for Separation . . . (DeVoto 1997, 414)

At this point, Lewis and Clark began their separate journeys of exploration in Montana after which they reunited near Sanish, North Dakota and continued down the river to St. Louis. Lewis set out on his journey with a small party to the Great Falls of the Missouri River, after which he explored a portion of the Marias River. Clark and his men ascended the Bitterroot River to recover the cache and boats on the Beaverhead River at Camp Fortunate, Montana. After raising their boats the party descended the Beaverhead and Jefferson to Three Forks. At that point, Clark's party split, one group descending the Missouri to rejoin Lewis and his men near the mouth of the Marias. Clark and several other men crossed overland to the Yellowstone and descended that stream to the Missouri where they rejoined Lewis and his party.

Traveler's Rest, a National Historic Landmark, is located off U.S. Rte. 93 one mile south of Lolo, Montana, near the western border of Montana and the Continental Divide, where Lolo Creek enters the Bitterroot River. The area is now Travelers' Rest State Park, open seven days a week May-September; Monday-Friday from October-May. Park tours start on the hour from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Please call 406-273-4253, or visit the Travelers' Rest State Park website for further information. You can also download (in pdf) the Traveler's Rest National Historic Landmark nomination.

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