Western Historic Trails Center

A low-lying building of gray stone with glass doors flanked by trees sits on a green lawn.
The National Park Service designed this building to be a center for exploration.

"Western Historic Trails Center" by haanm2 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Quick Facts
Council Bluffs, IA

Benches/Seating, Cellular Signal, Fire Extinguisher, First Aid Kit Available, Gifts/Souvenirs/Books, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Information, Information - Maps Available, Information - Ranger/Staff Member Present, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Picnic Table, Restroom, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Telephone, Toilet - Flush, Trailhead, Water - Bottle-Filling Station

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

In late July of 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark arrived in present-day Council Bluffs. The Western Historic Trails Center, located on the banks fo the Missouri River in Council Bluff, Iowa, details their journey from St. Louis to the Pacific. Known as the Loess Hills region, unique deposits of windswept loess soils left behind by the last Ice Age rise 200 feet above the plains along the river. 

The Western Historic Trails Center is the perfect place to spend an afternoon learning about history, enjoying a musical performance, or even just to stretch your legs. The building itself was designed and built by the National Parks Service as a center of exploration in 1997. Here, visitors have the opportunity to retrace the steps of pioneers who came after Lewis and Clark, walking not only the trail blazed by the two intrepid explorers but also the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail.

Exhibits include sculptures by Timothy Woodman, photos, maps, and quotes pertaining to the trails and America's history of Westward Expansion. Outdoor picnic areas offer a tranquil place to enjoy the sunshine and scenery. Walking and biking paths wind through 400 acres of prairie along the scenic Missouri River, offering a glimpse into what the two explorers and the Corps of Discovery observed more than 200 years ago. 

Admission is free. School and group tours are available, but require advance scheduling by calling the center at (712) 366-4900. Visitors are also encouraged to check the center's website and calendar for upcoming events at 

California National Historic Trail, Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, Oregon National Historic Trail

Last updated: July 28, 2023