And thus began one of the greatest expeditions in U.S. history, Lewis
& Clark's Corps of Discovery that stretched across the continent and
produced a "boatload" of scientific and geographic information.
Part of our exploration of new territory this summer included spending
some time in Great Falls, MT, where the Lewis & Clark expedition
spent several grueling weeks portaging boats and tons of supplies for 18 miles
around five Missouri River waterfalls in what is now the Great Falls
At least two of Great Falls' five falls are now
dammed but you can see the rock ledges.
Black Eagle Falls & dam are above, Rainbow
Falls & dam are below.
Jim and I have read a lot about this expedition over the years and have
seen other sites where Lewis & Clark left their mark, both literally
(like Pompey's Pillar near Billings) and figuratively.
Neither of us has spent time in Great Falls, however, to see some of the
falls and visit the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive
Center, managed by the USDA/Forest Service.
Colorful kites graced the entrance and atrium of
the museum this week.
We were impressed with the exhibits, films, and attentive volunteers who
staff the museum. Go see it if you're in the area. There is an admission
charge but it's free if you have a National Park Service pass.
WHY WE'RE HERE
We arrived at Gateway FamCamp on Malmstrom AFB on Wednesday after
driving for parts of three days from the USAF Academy in Colorado
You're never far from Lewis & Clark in Great Falls.
These wooden sculptures
of Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea, and one of their boats are at our
Great Falls is our final “staging area” for our trip to Alaska. A common
eastern route to the 49th state enters Canada a couple hours north
north of Great Falls at Coutts, Alberta and heads north and west to the
southern terminus of the famous (notorious?) Alaska Highway.
We needed to do some final preparations, such as loading up on tax-free
supplies at WalMart and Sam’s Club (Montana has no sales tax). We also
had time to do some more trip research, ride the long bike trail along
the Missouri River, and see some area sights like the Lewis & Clark
Metal sculptures of Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea
along the bike path above the river
We had fun cycling several miles on the extensive paved and dirt
multi-use path along the river. This is a map of part of the River's
Trail, a great resource for residents and visitors:
Parts of the trail are through prairie:
Parts are right above the river:
We're enjoying three quiet nights at Malmstrom AFB. No noisy planes
here, just helicopters and missiles (no, they don't test those in the
The pull-through, full hook-up
sites at Gateway FamCamp are spacious. We can recommend the campground
if you're active or retired military. Cody loved all the acres of thick
lawn and prairie grasses surrounding the campground. He also went nuts
trying to catch the gophers whose holes make walking in the grassy areas
a bit treacherous.
We're already noticing how late it gets dark and we've barely begun
our journey north.
Setting sun at 9:30 PM
The weather looks good for the next week through Alberta so we plan to
leave Malmstrom tomorrow morning.
I'll fill in the details about our visit to Great Falls and add more
photos sometime in the future (don't hold your breath!). Meanwhile, hit
"next" and keep reading about our journey through Canada.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil