Visiting interpretive centers
along the way adds a great deal of knowledge and enjoyment to a trip
following the Oregon Trail. We missed a couple of centers that were
closed when we passed through, and one at the end in
The personnel were always friendly and appreciated our interest in the
Below are Oregon Trail interpretive centers, arranged from east to west, we came across during our trip from
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis, Missouri
This National Park Service facility is best known for the Gateway Arch. Underneath is an excellent museum with exhibits and films. St. Louis is generally considered the starting point for the westward trails. Pioneers headed for the Oregon Trail generally traveled from St. Louis to Independence by boat. (314) 655-1700. The Arch and Museum of Westward Expansion are open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with extended hours during holidays. Tram tickets to the top of the arch can be purchased in advance.
The museum is near
Western Historic Trails Center, Council Bluffs, Iowa. This National Park Service interpretive center offers exhibits and information about the Lewis & Clark Trail along with the California, Mormon, and Oregon Trails. Multiple sculptures and interactive displays are utilized to interpret the westward migration. Walking and bike trails are on the grounds. (712) 366-4900. Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. in winter). Free admission.
Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Bayard, Nebraska
The visitor center offers exhibits and a video presentation at what is probably the best-known landmark along the Oregon Trail. Interpretive programs are frequently offered on Sunday afternoons. (308) 586-2581. Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Nominal admission charged.
Operated by the National Park Service, the national
monument includes a visitor center/museum with exhibits and an audio-visual
presentation. Visitors can
drive or take a free shuttle to the top of the bluff.
The monument offers living-history programs and hiking trails.
Scotts Bluff was a major landmark on the
Originally constructed as a fur trading post, the fort was visited by pioneers heading west as early as 1841. The fort became an important stop for the pioneers during the next twenty years. Living history programs, a nice visitor center, and a real feeling for being at a frontier post make this an interesting stop on the trail. The site is operated by the National Park Service and is open daily from dawn to dusk.
National Historic Trail Interpretive Center,
A simulated wagon ride across the
Oregon Trail History and Education Center, Glenns Ferry,
National Oregon/California Trails Center,
The center includes interpretive exhibits, a theatre, and a living history program in which visitors become members of a pioneer family headed west. Open daily May 1 through September 30, and Tuesday through Saturday in October. (866) 847-3800. Admission charged.
Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center,
The premier interpretive center on the
Interpretive Center at the End of the Oregon Trail,
Although the visitor center continues to operate, the
interpretive center has been closed for financial reasons in September 2009.
We were staying the night in