Travelers' Rest State Park
Travelers' Rest State Park (TRSP) now represents a partnership formulated in 2009 to promote, preserve and interpret this cultural resource: The 50 acre park, visitor center and museum are owned and managed by Montana State Parks. Education, interpretive programming and outreach are provided by the non profit Travelers’ Rest Preservation and Heritage Association (TRPHA), mostly through a corps of knowledgeable, dedicated volunteers lead by a professional Program Director and the TRSP Park Manager.
TRSP is located1/2 mile west of modern day Lolo, Montana, a gateway to the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys. This National Historic Landmark preserves the location of a centuries-old Native American campsite used by Lewis and Clark's party heading west in 1805 and again on their return trip in 1806.
Prior to Lewis naming the nearby creek "Travellers Rest", this place was known to the Bitterroot Salish as Tmsm , i (no salmon). The valley lies at the juncture of geographically defined major travel routes to and from all points of the compass. Its favorable weather, abundance of water, grass and game had made it a gathering place for Indian people from all over the west to pause, rest, trade and socialize for perhaps as long as10,000 years.
In Summer 2002, archeologists found evidence of the Lewis and Clark party's latrine, central cooking fire and other artifacts, positioning the Park as one of the few sites identified on the ground along the 4,000 mile Lewis and Clark route and their only archeologically verified campsite. The unique research that validated the location of Travelers' Rest is one of the many stories you can discover during your visit.
The Park encompasses 50 acres along Lolo Creek, the present name for Lewis’ Travellers Rest Creek. A band of cottonwood trees and picnic tables lines the creek. The open meadow where Lewis and Clark’s expedition camped is accessed by a footbridge and a 1/4 mile loop walking trail. With a little visual editing, one can stand at the campsite and, looking west, see the timbered Bitterroot Mountains range as it appeared 200 years ago, green in spring and summer, sprinkled with golden colored western larch in the fall, and blanketed with snow during winter, much like it appeared to the Corps of Discovery as they prepared to cross in late September, 1805.
Nestled against cottonwoods along Lolo Creek lies the Holt Museum and Visitor Center. Inside you’ll find interpretive exhibits related to Lewis and Clark's visits to this "focal point of western geography". A small bookstore and visitor information are also available in the Visitor Center. The Bill and Ramona Holt Museum - an eclectic collection of Native American pow-wow era regalia and early frontier settlement exhibits - is a wonderful place to walk back into time. A re-created main street of an early town is featured, illustrating services and store bought items available to farmers and loggers living in the Bitterroot Valley from about 1850 to 1900. Western art and hand powered logging tools line the walls.
Due to the educational focus of Travelers' Rest and TRPHA, kid's activities are part of almost any programming. Ask at the Visitor Center for kid related park activities.
Although TRSP is a day use facility, commercial and U. S. Forest Service campgrounds are located within a few miles of the park. Restaurants, gas, groceries and lodging are available nearby in Lolo.