Our family recently made another trek over to the Oregon Coast. This time we explored the area between Rockaway and Astoria. We’d never spent much time in Astoria before and wanted to make it to a couple of specific places, one of which was Fort Clatsop National Historic Park.
Fort Clatsop is the place where Lewis, Clark and the Corps of Discovery camped from December 1805 to March 1806. You will see a replica of the fort (the original having fallen apart, or was torn down by settlers who came after) and is the highlight of the visit.
Before you begin your own explorations, you’ll want to begin your visit to the area with a stop at the Interpretive Center for a brief overview of Lewis & Clark’s journey west. There is a small museum attached and two films which can be previewed before heading down to the Fort.
Rangers, like the one you see below, occupy certain areas in and around Fort Clatsop and stand at the ready to tell visitors more about Lewis, Clark, and their travels. The ranger pictured below was specifically focused on telling stories and passing along information about the fur trade. He was a wonderful storyteller and we enjoyed listening very much! After he finished his presentation, he invited everyone to come and up an touch the furs he had displayed around him.
From there we moved on a few steps to Fort Clatsop. As explained, the original was destroyed but taking a close look at maps, journals, and by conducting interviews of the descendants of original settlers, they believe that they have rebuilt the fort on or very nearby the original (give or take a few feet). Visitors are welcome to explore the fort which is an education in itself. To get a quick overview of the history of Fort Clatsop, see this webpage with information offered by The History Channel.
After walking through the Fort, visitors are directed and invited to walk down to see the historic canoe landing point. It’s interesting to walk the distance between Fort Clatsop and the canoe landing area. You might think the two locations are near each other but not so. There is some small amount of trekking through a forest to get from one to the other. While Lewis, Clark and Co. had to blaze their own trails, visitors today are offered a nicely maintained (and paved!) footpath.
Near the landing, you can see a Ponderosa pine dugout canoe which would be similar to the ones that the soldiers of the Lewis and Clark Expedition would have made on the Clearwater River (in Idaho).
Along the pathway there are multiple panels explaining more about the area and Lewis and Clark’s adventures. Audio tours are available via an MP3 player which is available at the Visitor Center front desk.
The fees to visit Fort Clatsop are incredibly reasonable. Children under the age of 15 years old are free (can’t beat that!) while those 16 and older are $3 a head. We were able to experience Fort Clatsop for $6 as a family of six. (Nice!)
There were a wide variety of ages exploring Fort Clatsop. As mentioned, there is a paved trail that winds throughout the park but there are some areas which are steeper than others. It is definitely wheelchair and stroller accessible but you might have to take certain parts of the trail more slowly. A picnic area is also available in case you’d like to pack a lunch and bring it with you.
Would we recommend a stop at Fort Clatsop for you and yours? Most definitely.
See THIS SITE for more information.