Mt. Jefferson

Mount Jefferson’s white peak stands tall against a bright blue sky, with tree-covered hills in the f

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Lewis and Clark NHT Visitor Centers and Museums

Visitor Centers (shown in orange), High Potential Historic Sites (shown in black), and Pivotal Places (shown in green) along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

At the end of what could only have been a miserable day, William Clark wrote in his journal: “We made 22 Miles only to day the wind and a Strong current being against us all day, with rain. Discovered a high mountain S E. Covered with Snow which we call Mt. Jefferson.” 

The day was March 30, 1806, and Clark, Meriwether Lewis, and the Corps of Discovery had been on the homeward trail for just five days since leaving Fort Clatsop.  They named the towering peak after President Thomas Jefferson, the only volcanic peak they named of the five observed rising over the Cascade Range.  At 10,495 feet in elevation, Mount Jefferson ranks as the second highest peak in Oregon.

Mount Jefferson is a stratovolcano that has erupted periodically over the past 300,000 years.  The volcano can produce large, explosive eruptions, and the last one was about 15,000 years ago.  Smaller events have also occurred, including lava flows and lahars.  Much of Mount Jefferson’s history is unknown since erosion by glaciers has long since erased the evidence of past eruptions.  Even today, the mountain is covered in glaciers, making it a significant challenge for climbers.

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

Last updated: December 7, 2020