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Interesting Facts About The Lewis And Clark Northwest Passage Route

In 1803 , President Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to find the Northwest Passage – the link between the Missouri River and the Columbia River through the unexplored Rocky Mountains. This 202-mile byway, stretching across northcentral Idaho, follows the explorers' route through the ancestral homeland of the Nez Perce people.

From the west , this beautiful route begins on U.S. 12 at Lewiston, and traverses the winding Clearwater River Canyon. It also passes through the Nez Perce National Historical Park areas of Spalding and Kamiah and the towns of Orofino and Kooskia. At Kamiah is the Heart of the Monster, a geologic formation and legendary Nez Perce site.

At Kooskia , the byway splits. One segment turns south on Idaho Highway 13 toward the Camas Prairie and the town of Grangeville. Another segment continues east on U.S. 12 along the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River and the Lochsa Wild and Scenic River -- through a magnificent wilderness culminating at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center.

Points of interest include:

  • Lewis and Clark Discovery Center, Lewiston
  • Nez Perce National Historical Park, Spalding
  • Canoe Camp and Dworshak Dam, Orofino
  • Long Camp/Riverfront Park and Heart of the Monster, Kamiah
  • Kooskia Crossing/Welcome Center, Kooskia
  • Eimers Park and Mammoth Exhibit, Grangeville
  • Lolo Pass Visitor Center, at the Idaho-Montana border

Drive Along The Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

Reach extraordinary new heights of travel. Use the Top 10 Scenic Drives in the Northern Rockies to plan a trip on the Lewis and Clark Northwest Passage.


Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

Brace yourselves history buffs! Explore the Idaho Rockies, including the land of the Nez Perce Indians, and trace the Lewis & Clark Expedition route across the Bitterroot Mountains and along the Wild and Scenic Clearwater and Lochsa rivers.

Trace The Lewis And Clark Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

The 202-mile Northwest Passage Scenic Byway winds through northcentral Idaho, along the beautiful Clearwater and Lochsa rivers, and through the ancestral homeland of the Nez Perce people . Visit this unspoiled country of crystal-clear rivers, endless forests, and soaring peaks – where Lewis & Clark crossed the Bitterroot Mountains. You’ll enjoy endless recreational opportunities, including hiking , camping , heritage sites, and whitewater rafting .

An Amazing Journey Through The Lewis And Clark Rockies And Bitterroot Mountains

Reach extraordinary new heights of travel. Use the Top 10 Scenic Drives in the Northern Rockies to plan a trip on the Idaho Northwest Passage .


Add to your scenic driving experience along the beautiful Northwest Passage with side trip visits to recreation sites, areas of interest and wilderness area managed by Idaho’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Most of these unique areas are listed in the Key Landmark & Attraction  section for this Drive.

BLM manages nearly 12 million acres of public lands in Idaho, nearly one-fourth of the state's total land area.  Four BLM district offices, 12 field offices, and the Idaho State Office administer the public lands in Idaho with a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.  The Cottonwood Field Office  is an excellent resource to answer specific direction or camping questions. 

Most of the side trips will take you to nearby outstanding BLM public land venues offering a variety of cultural/historic informative sites, or outdoor recreation opportunities such as bird or wildlife watching, fishing, hiking or river rafting on day-use or developed/primitive overnight camping sites.

The Top 10 Scenic Drives partners with Idaho BLM by asking all byway travelers to travel only on established roads and trails, leave no trace, and pack out what you pack in.