July 30, 1995

Hit The Lolo Trail For Lewis & Clark Adventure

Larry W. Earl Correspondent

Q: We want to learn more about the Idaho portion of the Lewis & Clark expedition by driving along its route and stopping at interpretive sites.

We enjoy tent camping and would like to camp along the expedition’s route. Can you suggest an Idaho road or highway? - J.L.M., Priest River, Idaho.

A: I would suggest the Lolo Trail, forest road 500, in the Clearwater National Forest. It follows most of the expedition’s mountainous route in Idaho.

Interpretive signs have been posted along the road. You may want to stop at Orofino on U.S. 12 to see the canoe-building site for the start of the expedition’s water route to the Pacific Ocean.

I’d recommend starting your trip at Orofino and following the Lolo Road 500 to Lolo Pass at the Montana border.

A quick stop at the Clearwater National Forest Office on U.S. 12 in Orofino will give you up-to-date road condition information and a chance to get various information pamphlets and maps.

A great stop for another piece of history and for relaxation would be at the Lolo Hot Springs Resort, located about seven miles east of the pass on U.S. 12. The expedition camped here and enjoyed the soothing waters.

The hot mineral pools are open daily to the public for a small fee. There are two pools and a picnic area. The mineral pools are located across the highway from the resort’s campground, which offers tepee camping for a unique night of lodging.

Information sources:

The Clearwater National Forest Supervisor’s Office (208-476- 4541) in Orofino offers a free detailed pamphlet for the Lolo Trail and forest road maps for sale.

The forest road maps are routinely updated and would make an excellent companion for your historic driving and camping trip.

Back-country travel can be confusing. I’d recommend purchasing the “Idaho Atlas & Gazetteer” by DeLorme Mapping Co.

The atlas contains a complete set of topographical maps and information on state attractions, campgrounds and much more.

Lolo Hot Springs Resort complex includes the mineral pools, RV, tent and tepee campground, restaurant, casino and saloon. (406) 273-2290 or (800) 273-2290.

Q: We are rail fans and enjoyed the story about small railroad lines that ran May 28. We’ve heard there was another excursion train near Vancouver, Wash. Can you tell us about it? - L.L., Coeur d’Alene.

A: The excursion railroad you are referring to is the Lewis & Clark Railway in Battle Ground, an old logging town. The main job of the railway is as a commercial freight carrier during weekdays.

On weekends and holidays, passenger excursions are offered from the Battle Ground Depot to Moulton Falls County Park.

The 10-1/2-mile trip takes about one hour.

You can ride the morning train up and return on the afternoon train, which will give you about 3-1/2 hours at the park for picnicking, hiking, swimming and photographing the waterfall.

It is a great family-fun rail trip. The route passes through thick stands of maple trees draped with strands of moss.

Blackberry, thimbleberry, elderberry and salmonberry bushes line the tracks. Snacks and drinks are available on the train. The fare is $10 for adults and $5 for youths (ages 3-15).

Information sources:

Lewis & Clark Railway Co., (360) 687-2626.

Vancouver/Clark County Visitor and Convention Bureau, (360) 693-1313.

Q: We missed most of the ceremonies during the 150th anniversary of the Oregon Trail a couple years ago. Are there still any annual events occurring in southern Idaho? - M.P.K., Chattaroy, Wash.

A: The annual Three Island Crossing reenactment on the Snake River at Glenn’s Ferry is held each August. When the emigrants reached the Snake River, they had to decide between the dangerous river crossing or continue on the longer, dry and rocky Oregon Trail south alternate along the south bank of the river. The early pioneers considered the Three Island Crossing to be the most treacherous river crossing on the Oregon Trail.

If they were successful, they were rewarded with a shorter route, potable water and better livestock grazing.

But many pioneer diaries record the loss of human life, livestock and wagons at the crossing. Emigrants forded the river until 1869, when Gus Glenn constructed a ferry about two miles upstream.

This year’s celebration is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 12. There will be a pioneer breakfast and various activities throughout the day. The wagon-train river crossing will take place at 11 a.m.

Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for children. Parking at the state park will cost $1 or visitors can park in town for free and ride the complimentary shuttle bus to the park.

Information sources:

Glenn’s Ferry Chamber of Commerce, (208) 366-7345.


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