When the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 added a vast and unmapped wilderness area to the fledgling United States, President Thomas Jefferson persuaded Congress to fund a "Corps of Discovery" to explore these lands, and he picked a young man by the name of Meriwether Lewis to lead the way. Lewis and his co-command, Captain William Clark, kept journals of the expedition, and what they found amazed the world: three hundred new species of plants and animals, as well as wilderness prairie and mountains previously undescribed.
This book is the first guide to contemporary recreational adventures along the route of America's most famous pioneer expedition. It includes abundant natural history, as well as profiles of the many state and national parks to be found in Lewis and Clark country. Author Elizabeth Grossman divides the trail into six sections and recommends ten "explorations" in each, along with many side trips. She offers suggestions for the best day hiking, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, biking, and wildlife viewing--as well as short, easy walks and car trips to interpretive centers, Native American villages, and scenic vistas. Information on the Corps of Discovery's original campsites is also included, along with excerpts from Lewis and Clark's journals. Though much of the wild lands described in the journals is now gone, travelers can still recognize some of the terrain from these two hundred-year-old descriptions.
The present-day adventurer along the Lewis and Clark Trail will doubtless feel a powerful connection with the remaining natural glories that bridge the time from then to now, and will appreciate the opportunity to see this land through the lens of its dramatic history.
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Elizabeth Grossman is a writer specializing in environmental issues. She is the author of Watershed: The Undamming of America, and editor, with Susan Ewing, of Shadow Cat: Encountering the American Mountain Lion. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Chicago Tribune, Orion and Orion Afield, and The Washington Post. An avid hiker, camper, and kayaker, she lives near the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon.From Booklist:
The 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is upon us. Readers interested in the fascinating story behind that universe-expanding exploration commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, the purpose of which was to learn the nature and possible use of the vast region just added to the new U.S., may, in addition to reading about the expedition itself, decide to actually take to the highway and follow in Lewis and Clark's footsteps. Grossman's guide is an excellent tool "to get readers out of their cars and into the landscape . . . to sense how that country might have looked when the Corps of Discovery ventured through." Very helpful introductory material about the expedition sets the context for the author's presentation of where to go and what to see and will give travelers a real sense of knowing what the two explorers and their party experienced. The narrative text gives the book the feel of travel literature, but it is definitely easy to use as a practical guide to have in hand while on the road. For a selection of nonfiction and fiction titles to further involve readers in the world of Lewis and Clark, see the adjacent Read-alikes column. Brad Hooper
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