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Clarks slave York and Lewis' dog Seaman are represented in this heroic Lewis and Clark bronze located at the Broadwater Park Overlook.

Lewis and Clark vs. The Great Falls

The single most fun thing to do in Great Falls is a visit to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. The center overlooks a section of the Missouri where the explorers portaged two centuries ago. The exhibits are ingenious, educational, interactive and fun. At a ranger presentation we learned that Jefferson developed a cipher so that clandestine messages could be transmitted by the Corps … "artichoke", by the way, was the secret code word.

A striking life size diorama depicts the trails the explorers encountered during their grueling three week portage around the waterfalls ... they faced wind, hailstones the size of golf balls, grizzly bears, mosquitoes, and prickly pear cactus.

 "Portage at Great Falls" by Frank Hagel.

Next to the Interpretive Center is Giant Springs Heritage State Park. This beautiful and peaceful place was first described by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805 and is one of the largest freshwater springs in the world.


Platforms extend into the spring and allow views of the lush aquatic plants that thrive deep in the clear crystalline water. It is still hard to fathom that for the past 3,000 years water has been bubbling up here at the amazing rate of 7.9 million gallons of water per hour.

Before entering the Missouri River, water from the spring flows into the 200 foot long Roe River … listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's shortest river.

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Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way.

— Ralph Crawshaw —