Trail Stewardship

Travelers' Rest Chapter

of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation

Trail Stewardship

Trail stewardship is defined as preserving, protecting and interpreting the natural, historical, educational and cultural resources of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.

Examples of stewardship include heritage site monitoring, protection of cultural resources, coordination and sponsorship of stewardship projects and programs, archiving and documenting bicentennial stewardship projects and providing interpretive and information along the trail.

(January 2007 issue of WPO pg. 33)


Travelers' Rest lies at an ancient crossroads of commerce and travel, near the modern intersection of two highways in the growing community of Lolo, Montana. In 1960, the National Park Service created a National Historic Landmark (NHL), for Travelers' Rest because of its importance to the success of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Several years later the Park Service established boundaries for the NHL around the confluence of Lolo Creek and the Bitterroot River.

Beginning in the late 1980's, some Lewis & Clark scholars began to question if the area established was actually the historic site. Research conducted by Dr. Robert Bergantino and Daniel S. Hall in the late 1990's indicated that a more likely location was upstream on Lolo Creek abut 1.5 miles from it's confluence with the Bitterroot River. The focus of their efforts was a 15 acre parcel owned by Pat and Ernie Deschamps, who had run a small dairy farm there since the 1960's. The discovery of a tombac button on an adjacent property fueled speculation that the site could be identified. The button was manufactured in the 18th century and was the type used on military uniforms of the time.

Due to rapid residential growth in the area, the National Trust for historic Preservation listed Travelers' Rest as one of "America's 11 most endangered places" in 1999. In the spring of 2001 the Conservation Fund arranged for the purchase of the 15 acre parcel and its subsequent donation to the State of Montana, making the property part of the Montana State Park System.

Unique historical and archeological research by Mr. Hall and his team from Western Cultural, Inc. in 2002 validated and verified that the Travelers’ Rest site had been preserved. Working with the Association, the National Trust and Missoula County, Mr. Hall petitioned the National Park Service to review his work and consider moving the boundaries of the NHL to the current Travelers’ Rest State Park. In March of 2006, after a lengthy review by the National Park Service and its advisory committee, the Secretary of the Interior approved the move, making Travelers’ Rest the only Lewis & Clark campsite in the country where verified physical evidence has been discovered. Despite the designation, all of the funding and management of the site still rests with the non-profit Travelers’ Rest Preservation and Heritage Association.

In the summer of 2002, the state purchased an additional 10 acres on the north side of Lolo Creek and incorporated those into Travelers’ Rest State Park. An adjacent 10 acre parcel was donated as a conservation easement for park trails. Additional purchases by the state and the Association have brought the size of Travelers’ Rest State Park to 51 acres. In 2005 a new entrance and visitor area was opened with access from US Highway 12.

The Association focuses most of it's energy of this place on providing unique, intimate perspectives about the history of this place that has been so important to so many for so long. In addition to ongoing programs, Travelers' Rest State Park offers personal interpretation and an education program that brings together the history of early American explorers, the Native American people who prospered here for centuries, and the natural history that shaped all of their worlds.

(the above information is copyrighted by Travelers' Rest Preservation and Heritage Association and used here with permission)


The Lolo Motorway (Forest Service Road 500), winds its way along ridges of the Bitterroot Mountains. It closely follows a portion of the Lolo Trail which was an ancient travel route used by generations of early travelers. Called "K'useyneisskit" by the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) links the Columbia River Basin Tribes and the Northern Plains Tribes east of the Continental Divide for thousands of years. Running from Weippe Prairie in Idaho to the head of the Bitterroot Valley in Lolo, Montana, it was a major component of a vast continental trade system. The Lolo Trail is not a single trail but a network of trails, cut-offs and shortcuts. The Lewis and Clark Expedition followed portions of the Lolo Trail during the westward leg of their journey in 1805 and on their return trip in 1806.

Today the area containing the ancient Lolo Trail system is part of the Lolo Trail National Historic Landmark, a designation bestowed on the area by the National Historic Preservation Act in 1960 because of its unique historical and cultural characteristics. The Landmark contains the longest intact overland piece of the original Lewis and Clark Trail in the nation. It is part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail as well as the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) National Historic Trail. Because of the area’s remote location and the protection afforded to it by its National Historic Landmark status, the area remains much as it was 200 years ago when the Lewis and Clark Expedition traversed the area.


The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation has a continuing partnership with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service to protect the natural, historic and cultural resources along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. One ongoing project associated with this partnership focuses on the Lolo Motorway. Foundation and chapter members assist in campsite monitoring, campsite cleanup, trail clearing and sign installation.

The work takes place from a base camp on the Lolo Motorway. The Forest Service (Clearwater District) provides meals and transportation to the Motorway from the Powell Ranger Station which is located about an hour west of Missoula, Montana, just off of Idaho Highway 12. Volunteers need to provide their own tents, bedding and a variety of weather-appropriate clothing, including rain gear and boots. The work does not require much physical exertion, but it does require long periods of riding in a vehicle on an extremely bumpy and narrow road. It also may be wet and cold and you will be sleeping outside.

This is an exciting learning opportunity and a chance to enjoy the Lewis and Clark story and The Trail with like-minded folks. Former participants share stories around the campfire and read from the journals. According to participants, the food is delicious, the conversations are very interesting and the company is delightful.

Four Travelers" Rest Chapter members participated in the 2007 sessions; Hazel Pflueger, Norm Jacobsen, Earl Reinsel, and Tom Schenarts.

Space is limited. If you are interested in participating please contact Wendy Raney at (888) 701-3434 or