May 1 - 2, 2021
Jefferson River Canoe Trail Campout
At Shoshone Landing near Three Forks, Montana
The Jefferson River Canoe Trail retraces by water an essential segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail along the entire length of the Jefferson River in southwest Montana.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition towed dugout canoes up the Jefferson River in 1805 in search of a navigable water route to the Pacific. Most present-day travelers prefer to follow the trail in reverse, floating down the Jefferson River in search of fun and fishing. The entire length of the river is Class I water, suitable for beginning paddlers, except during runoff season in spring.
The Canoe Trail includes a network of multipurpose campsites on public lands on the Jefferson River. The public may float into these sites for primitive camping along the river. At each camp there are opportunities for such activities as bird watching, mushrooming, hiking, and fishing.
This year we will enjoy an early spring campout (weather permitting) at Shoshone Landing by Three Forks. Although officially a walk-in or paddle-in site, we'll open the front gate for vehicles for the weekend event. Pitch a tent or bring a small camper (nothing too heavy on the soft ground). We'll meet at Shoshone Landing in the morning, and depending on water levels and safety, we'll paddle a section of the lower Jefferson or potentially the upper Missouri. We may even bring our newest dugout canoe! We'll have a group potluck dinner in the evening and a live meeting of the Jefferson River Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.
This event is hosted by the Jefferson River Canoe Trail. The campout is open to members of the Jefferson River Canoe Trail, as well as members of the Bozeman Kayaking and Canoeing Meetup Group and anyone else who would like to join us.
In lieu of a fee for the campout, we would be grateful for generous donations to the Jefferson River Canoe Trail to support work to secure additional public campsites along this segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
A Tradition of Open Space and Open Access
Here in Montana we value our tradition of open spaces and open access. People who have lived here all their lives are accustomed to hunting, hiking, and fishing for miles and miles along the rivers and through the woods, across public and private lands alike.
But the culture in Montana is changing as many new people move to the area, bringing different ideas of private ownership. "No Trespassing" signs sprout up on lands that have been shared for generations. New fences are being erected, not to keep livestock in, but to keep people out. Some landowners have fenced right up to the river bridges, blocking legal public access along the road easements.
In many ways it is simply a cultural misunderstanding, as many new arrivals are simply unfamiliar with Montana's tradition of open space and open access. The Jefferson River Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation is seeking long-term solutions to sustain Montana's outdoor traditions, especially through the purchase of conservation and recreation easements along the Jefferson River.
We welcome you to join us in our efforts to make a real difference in this part of the world. If you have ideas or enthusiasm to make this vision a reality, please join our group today. We hold our meetings almost exclusively via e-mail. You can participate in our e-mail discussions at your own convenience from your own home or office. Please click here to join. You will also be invited to participate in our annual meeting and float trips, as we get together once each year for a more personal dialogue and loads of fun.
Read A Vision for the Future by Thomas J. Elpel
Installing an interpetive sign at Shoshone Landing, April 23rd, 2016.