Discover an oasis for the soul at Lewis and Clark Trail State Park

Lewis n Clark Trail
                               You'll hear the cottonwoods whispering Lewis and Clark Trail State Park!

June 20, 2017

Deep in the arid cropland of Southeastern Washington, you’ll find an unexpected oasis.

Here, the Touchet (say: too-shee) River cuts a narrow, verdant swath through the dun-colored plains. And here, between the quiet, old west-style cities of Dayton and Waitsburg, you will find Lewis and Clark Trail State Park.

Long-needled ponderosa pine, alder, maple and cottonwood trees flourish in the river climate. Trout leap at insects buzzing over the shallow river. Ferns compete in the understory with lush grasses in this small park’s forested campground. It is cool and moist here, even on the hottest days.

Much overlooked by campers drawn to nearby Palouse Falls State Park’s wow factor, Lewis and Clark Trail has plenty of its own charms to offer. Rife with pleasant, private campsites and opportunities to hike, bike and fish, visitors will also discover this little camping park also has some pretty amazing secrets of its own!

Lewisn Clark Trail ponderosa pine
During their stay at what is now Lewis and Clark Trail State Park, Corps of Discovery members marveled at the "long-leafed" ponderosa pine, which still flourish here in this mini rain forest-type climate along the Touchet River.

So, why is it named Lewis and Clark Trail State Park? The hearty explorers from the Corps of Discovery camped here in spring of 1806 on their way home from their epic journey to the Pacific coast.

In their journals, the explorers noted the unusual character of the vegetation, i.e. the “long-leafed” ponderosa pine found in the area. The old growth trees still thrive here in what essentially is a riparian zone climate and a shady escape from the Eastern Washington heat. 

Lewis Clark Trail deer
Well, hello, deer! Don't forget to bring the camera when you camp at Lewis and Clark Trail. Chances are pretty good you won't be the only wildlife in the park!

​Hiking and birding

At just 37 acres, the small park’s hiking trails are limited to just under a mile of looping strolls. But on these trails you’re bound to run across some of the amazing wildlife that call this oasis home—so don’t forget your camera. Common mergansers, red-tailed hawks and orange-crowned warblers are just a few of the hundreds of bird species found in the area. Download a full  birding checklist for Columbia County from Washington Birder before you hit the road!


Lewis and Clark Trail State Park is one of Washington’s older, smaller parks, but still has 24 standard campsites open from April 1 to Oct. 31. The park also features four primitive camp sites for hikers and bicylists.

Got a big family or group wanting to camp? The park has two group camps that accommodate approximately 50 to 75 visitors or six to eight RVs each, although there are no hookups. Reserve a group camp by calling the park at (509) 337-6457.

LC moss
Kid-sized river fun! The Touchet River is mostly shallow, making splashing around an easy adventure!

You’ll even find nearby open fields for a game or two with an impressive outdoor backdrop. Interested in interpretive programs? You may request interpretive opportunities with park staff, and many are offered during peak holidays. Soon, the park is expected to have reservable teepee sites to stay in as well!

Water recreation 

If you gravitate to water, swimming, tubing, wading and fishing are the main activities to try on the Touchet River. It’s about three feet at its deepest points—you don’t need waders to fish at most spots along the river.

Fly fishers in the know recommend peacock and elk hair caddis, stimulator, bead head pheasant tail, hare’s ear and woolly bugger lures to lure Touchet River trout. Fishing tip: In the late afternoon, the trout and steelhead tend to move to the calmer parts of the river.

The mostly shallow waters also mean even smaller children can enjoy splashing about—with parental supervision. We also highly recommend everyone wear water shoes, as the bottom is rocky.

The Snapshot
Lewis and Clark Trail interpretive sign
Read all about it! Interpretive signs at Lewis and Clark Trail State Park describe the area's role in the Corps of Discovery expedition.

Park hours:
Summer: 6:30 a.m. to dusk
Winter: The park closes Nov. 1 and reopens April 1.

The park offers 24 standard sites, which will fit smaller RVs, and two group camps, which are available April 1 to Oct. 31. Average site length is 30 feet. Make your reservations in advance by visiting our online reservations page or calling (888) CAMPOUT or (888) 226-7688.

Located at 36149 Hwy 12, outside of Dayton. (Directions)

Want a handy map? Download one from the State Parks website.

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LnCT fishing 3
Cast your cares away...with a little fly fishing on the Touchet River!