Packer Meadows

"pretty little plain"

View East

Aerial view of a narrow valley surrounded by trees

© 2001 Airphoto, Jim Wark. All rights reserved.

This photo, taken from about 1,200 feet above the ground, includes the sources of Pack Creek—Lewis and Clark's Glade Creek—among the trees at right of center, flowing northward toward the bottom of the photo.1 The main camas meadow, the "pretty little plain" Lewis admired, is at lower center on both sides of the road. The Corps of Discovery entered the meadow near the point where the road emerges from the trees at lower left. Their camp on the night of September 13 was below this photo and to the right.

Pack Creek is on the Idaho side of the divide between the Bitterroot-Clark Fork drainage and the Lochsa-Clearwater River drainage. The road, which was built in the early 1950s for access to the timber resource, begins on Lolo Pass (elevation 5,160 feet) at U.S. Highway 12, one mile out of the photo at lower left. It winds generally eastward through the mountains among the forest clearcuts, and re-enters the Lolo Creek (Travelers' Rest) valley near the expedition's campsite of September 11, 1805.

At the present time (November, 2004) no logging has been carried on in this area for the past fifteen years. The major timber companies formerly active here have moved their operations to the Southeastern U.S., where merchantable trees grow faster.


Packer Meadows in Autumn

Low-level flyover

Photography by Mike Dreesman

In this movie, the helicopter is over the stream Lewis and Clark called Glade Creek (today, Pack Creek), looking upstream. At the outset, the aircraft has just passed above the site of the Corps' camp of September 13, 1805, and is heading upstream toward the camas meadows. The party probably entered the meadows through the trees at left, about where the present forest access road becomes visible. As the scene concludes, Glade Creek enters the meadows from among the trees to the right of the road.

The road is on the Lochsa River side of the Bitterroot Mountains near the ridge dividing the Lochsa-Clearwater River drainage from the Lolo Creek-Bitterroot-Clark Fork drainage, both in the Columbia River basin.


1. The Lolo Creek of Montana (named "Travellers Rest" by Lewis and Clark), which empties into the Bitterroot (i.e., Clark's) River, rises among the mountains to the left of this photograph.

Funded in part by a grant from the Idaho Governor's Lewis and Clark Trail Committee