Travelers Rest State Park is a state park that offers visitors the chance to walk in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark as it is a verified campsite of the expedition.
It was discovered in 2002 that the expedition stayed there thanks to archeologists discovering evidence at the park.
The site is teeming with history, not only because of the Lewis and Clark Expedition but also because the site was traditionally occupied by Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Nez Perce tribes as a campsite.
Visitors can learn more about the history in the small museum at the park or by taking one of the guided tours in the summer.
The park is also popular for wildlife watching as there are a variety of animals to be seen at the site. You can spot river otters and beavers in the waters at the park, and there are enormous anthills in several spots.
However, it’s birdwatching that truly shines here, as there are over 130 bird species that have been seen at the site.
Whether you decide to see the wildlife here and learn more about the history, you’re sure to enjoy the park.
Travelers Rest State Park Stats
- Traveler’s Rest is 65 acres
- Traveler’s Rest is open September 1 – April 30
- Hours for the park are: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm daily
- Lolo Creek runs through the park
- The park offers overnight camping through their educational camps
Lewis and Clark Expedition
The Travelers Rest State Park is quite popular for being the site of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, especially because it is the only site that is actually archeologically verified.
Archeologists discovered physical evidence of the latrine and campfire the expedition had in 2002. The campsite was the last stop for the Lewis and Clark Expedition before trekking through Bitterroot Mountains in September 1805.
In June 1806 the Corps of Discovery came back to the campsite to travel through Montana separately then meeting again on August 12 around Sanish, North Dakota.
The park offers numerous educational opportunities to learn more about the campsite, including Expedition Days. These days celebrate the expedition with guided tours of the site and can include demonstrations of skills such as bullet making and flint knapping.
The park also offers field trips and educational materials for schools with there being different types of tours offered depending on the grade level of the students.
Students can learn more about how the physical evidence of the expedition was discovered through the Archaeology Walk, or learn about how Lewis and Clark took notes for Thomas Jefferson with Journaling for Jefferson. Visitors can also visit the exhibit that has more information on the history of the area and the expedition.
With a wide variety of educational activities at Travelers Rest State Park, there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about the expedition here.
Aside from the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the park is also popular for learning about the history of the Native peoples that camped here and for wildlife watching.
Native American History and Culture
Travelers Rest State Park has a rich history not only because of the expedition but also because many Native Americans stayed here.
The Bitterroot Salish often traveled through here fishing for salmon and hunting for buffalo. It was common to camp in the area because of the number of resources the area had.
Today the site offers educational events about the history of the campsite through the exhibit at the park that shows how people moved through the land.
Saturday Storytelling is also available in the winter on Zoom. Through this event Salish, people share traditional stories from their culture and explain what this can tell us about tribal culture.
There are also educational opportunities for students. There are field trips and educational materials for students that allow them to learn more about the history of the Native Americans that camped here.
Wildlife watching is a popular activity at Travelers Rest State Park, as there are over 115 species that have been recorded within the park.
You can spot everything from squirrels and raccoons to river otters and beavers. There are also a variety of birds that can be spotted here, making it an ideal spot for birdwatching.
Be sure to bring your binoculars so you are able to spot even more animals well on your trip!
Trails at the Park
There is one main walking trail at the park called the Travelers Rest State Park loop. The trail is a one-mile loop around the park and is not too steep.
The trail is not too hard and usually takes around forty to forty-five minutes. It’s a somewhat easy stroll, making it accessible for most people.
The trail travels around Lolo Creek and you can see plenty of wildflowers along the way. Wildlife can also occasionally be spotted, including birds and otters. It’s a great trail for birdwatching or for those who want to do a short trek through nature.
Note that it can be quite muddy at times, so it’s best to bring a good pair of hiking boots.