After a horrible month of fighting the treacherous rapids, falls, and winds of the Columbia River Gorge across the mountains, the explorers reached their destination in November. Capt. Clark wrote in his diary:
Great joy in camp, we are in View of the Ocian, this great Pacific Octean which we been So long anxious to See.
The Columbia River divides Washington and Oregon. Memorials of the journey follow the river in both states.
Today the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center stands on the cliffs of Cape Disappointment State Park, 200 feet above the Pacific, near Ilwaco, Washington. Here you’ll find informative murals, paintings, sketches and diary entries. Take time to see the film presentation.
Lewis and Clark built their winter quarters at Ft. Clatsop near Astoria, OR, and sent small expeditions out to survey their surroundings. From Long Beach, WA, down to Tillamook, OR, you’ll find monuments and parks commemorating their historic trip.
Hiking and biking trails abound throughout the area. On our short two days, we visited only a few of the sites.
On the peninsula, we saw the monument commemorative the expedition’s sighting of a gray whale at Long Beach in January 1806. The skeleton was recreated from a gray whale that was beached along the coast in 2000. Of the sighting, Lewis wrote:
I saw … Several joints of the backbone of a whale which must have foundered on this part of the coast.
Through his journal, we can see much of what Lewis saw over 200 years ago. Plan several days to see the West Coast through Lewis & Clark's eyes.