On July 16, 1805, Lewis and three other men advanced ahead of the main group “to the point where the river enters the Rocky Mountains” in order to make observations. After passing through rolling plains, they arrived at a point where “there is a large rock of 400 feet high wich stands immediately in the gap which the missouri makes on it’s passage from the mountains; it is insulated from the neighbouring mountains by a handsome little plain which surrounds it base on 3 sides and the Missouri washes it’s base on the other, leaving it on the Lard. as it decends. this rock I called the tower. it may be ascended with some difficulty nearly to it’s summit, and from it there is a most pleasing view of the country we are now about to leave.” For the expedition, Tower Rock marked a definitive transition from the familiar Great Plains into the unknown terrain of the Rocky Mountains.
The significance of Tower Rock long predated Lewis and Clark; the Blackfeet Tribe considered it to be a sacred place, and multiple tribes used it as a landmark for passage into and out of present-day Montana’s bison grounds. The site is publicly accessible as part of Tower Rock State Park. The 140-acre day-use park includes hiking trails and interpretive wayside exhibits.
Lewis and Clark NHT Visitor Centers and Museums
Visitor Centers and Museums along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail