The Lewis and Clark Expedition Separates at Travelers’ Rest

A grassy area at Travelers’ Rest State Park, surrounded by cottonwood trees.  Three small white tents can be seen near a large pine tree.  Mountains and heavy clouds are in the background.
Captains Lewis and Clark likely spent many cold, rainy winter days at Fort Clatsop refining a plan to split up when they returned to Traveler’s Rest, a campsite where they rested in early September of 1805. On the return voyage, The Corps would arrive at the site just before sunset on June 30, 1806.

The plan was bold -- separating into small groups for over a month in such a vast territory was filled with risk. After two days of rest, Lewis would lead a party to the Great Falls of the Missouri, leaving three men there to build carts for the return portage around the falls while he and six others would explore the Marias River.

Clark’s group would proceed south to Camp Fortunate, where the Corps camped in August 1805. There, Sergeant Ordway and a detachment of nine men would descend the Missouri to meet up with the men Lewis assigned to the Great Falls. Clark and the remainder of the party would head overland to find and explore the Yellowstone River.

Ultimately, the Captain’s plans had everyone coming together at the mouth of the Yellowstone about August 5. Clark’s group was two days early, while Lewis’s was two days late. They finally rejoined on August 12, a few miles below the mouth of the Little Knife River, about 140 miles downriver from the Yellowstone.

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

Last updated: June 29, 2021