Lewis and Clark State Park lies on the shores of Blue Lake, an "oxbow" formed by the meanderings of the picturesque Missouri River many years ago.
The park is named for Meriwether Lewis, secretary to President Thomas Jefferson, and Captain William Clark, United States Army, who were commissioned by President Jefferson in 1804 to head an expedition into the northwest to explore the vast territory purchased from France. With 26 men and supplies, Lewis and Clark led their expedition up the Missouri River from St. Louis by keelboat.
On August 10, 1804, the expedition arrived at the site where Lewis and Clark State Park now lies. They spent some time there exploring the region and making observations on the geographical conditions, plants and animals in the area. Today, thousands of people visit the park every year for outdoor recreation and to learn a little bit more about the Lewis and Clark expedition. The park has been designated as part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail by the National Park Service.
The lodge at Lewis and Clark is a fine place for group events such as wedding receptions and family reunions. The lodge was constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Reservations for the lodge may be obtained through the park office.
The Lewis and Clark campground is a great place to spend a leisurely vacation in the outdoors. The 82 campsites, all with electrical hookups, lie along the lakeshore. Modern rest rooms and showers are available, as is a trailer dump station. Starting February 13, 2006 advance campsite reservations can be booked through the park reservation system. Half of the campsites are still available for self-registration on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Lewis and Clark is a very popular area for family picnics. The park has more than 30 acres of picnic grounds with tables, fireplaces, and drinking water. An open picnic shelter is available for picnic use and may be reserved for a fee through the park office.
Lewis and Clark State Park is a fine place for a leisurely hike. On the trails, park visitors can see a variety of trees, shrubs, and, often, wildlife including deer, rabbits and squirrels, as well as a wide variety of bird species. A self-guided nature trail is present and provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about the natural communities of the park.
While visiting Lewis and Clark, please take the opportunity to view the full-sized reproduction of Lewis and Clark's keelboat, "Discovery," which was constructed by volunteer efforts in the park itself. Imagine, if you can, the expedition winding its way up the Missouri River while sailing, pulling and poling the 55-foot boat.
In 1984, the first annual Lewis and Clark Festival was held at Lewis and Clark State park near Onawa, the site of an 1804 Lewis and Clark encampment. The June festival features movies about the 1804 expedition, buckskinners in frontier dress, bluegrass music and historic presentations. A major attraction is the full-sized reproduction of Lewis and Clark's keelboat, Discovery, constructed by local volunteers and park staff.