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Part Two of the Lewis & Clark journey continues following the broad Missouri River. Bicycle beside the rolling Loess Hills and through wide-open plains where countless herds of buffalo once roamed. Peruse Civil War-era relics oddly preserved from a sunken ship. Hear tales of spirit mounds and Native Americans both friendly and fierce. Finish the week in Pierre, South Dakota's capital city.
Ride next to the river and through the woods from Council Bluffs to Onawa, home of the Eskimo Pie.
Meet us in Omaha; begin riding from the Lewis & Clark Monument Park overlook just east of Council Bluffs. Head north on an old highway that was the first transcontinental roadway in the United States. Cruise the eastern edge of the Missouri River floodplain, past stands of tall corn and through oak and hickory forest. Ride over the hills to remote, lovely Preparation Canyon State Park. If there's time, we may visit the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge's Steamboat Beartrand - a boat that sank in 1865 and was encased in mud, which preserved all its contents.It boasts the largest intact collection of Civil War-era artifacts in the United States. Stay tonight in Onawa, where the Eskimo Pie was born.
Onawa to Vermillion - from rolling hills and corn fields to more rolling hills and corn fields. And a really great park.
Continue bicycling west today over the Missouri River into Nebraska. For miles and miles, pedal past gently rolling farms, grain silos and grassy prairie. Thrill to the incredible views from the high bluffs at Ponca State Park (milepost 50) where you can see all the way into South Dakota and Iowa. Surprisingly, this park still offers the incredible biodiversity noted by Lewis and Clark in 1804. (In a side note, in 1879 Standing Bear of the local Ponca tribe won a landmark court battle which declared that Native Americans are people!) From Ponca State Park, ride the Outlaw Scenic Byway into Vermillion, home of University of South Dakota.
Ride the flat prairie Vermillion to Yankton, where Lewis and Clark shared a peace pipe with the Yankton Sioux.
Spirit Mound is today's start point. Lewis & Clark wrote "...by all the different Nations in this quarter is Supposed to be a place of Deavels...in human form with remarkable large heads and about 18 inches high...no consideration is sufficient to induce them to approach this hill.” The land here is so flat they could see this mound (barely a hill) from 8 miles away. Ride, following the bluff line and past a few tiny farms into Yankton – the original capitol of the Dakota Territory and the location of a meeting between Lewis and Clark and the Yankton Sioux.
From the records: “Lewis then proceeded with orders for the prairie to be set on fire, the customary signal for inviting natives to council. Reaching the James River, a native swam out to one of the boats and informed the expedition that a large party of Yankton Sioux were nearby. Under a large oak tree on August 30, Lewis delivered a speech to the Yankton Tribe, gave them gifts, and smoked from the Pipe of Peace. In the evening, the whole party danced until a late hour. The following morning the expedition listened to the Grand Chief deliver his approval of Lewis' speech from the previous day. They concluded with a smoke from the Pipe of Peace."
Yankton to Lake Andes. Now you know how the pioneers felt.
Pedal the prairies today, fortunately much faster than Lewis and Clark got through them! Possibly the most exciting thing about today's route is that this is where Lewis and Clark record the almost-thrilling discovery of the prairie dog. As part of their commission to capture and record the region's natural history, the entire crew was ordered to catch one alive - a feat which cost the better half of a day. They managed to keep the critter alive all winter; come spring, they sent it back east to President Jefferson as a gift. After crossing miles of prairie, rest your weary moccasins in tiny Lake Andes, the seat of Charles Mix County.
Ride from Lake Andes to Chamberlain, with sneak peeks at the river and a great museum at the finish.
Today's open flat spaces will be in abundance (sound familiar?) Ride through a landscape that is ever-so-slightly more interesting: tiny bogs and ponds are interspersed with small farms and ranches. At times the route wanders nearer the inland side of the bluff with nary a glimpse of the Missouri River. But that makes the occasional peek-a-boo view even more spectacular. Finish today in Chamberlain, where you'll find one of the best Native American Cultural Centers along the entire route - the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center.
Onward to Pierre, South Dakota's capital city. Today's ride - through former buffalo plains and river views - is the showiest of the week.
Ride today from Ft. Thompson on the south side of the river to our final stop in Pierre, South Dakota. Today's ride will be one the most spectacular parts of the tour as the route curves close to the great Missouri at many scenic points. Lewis and Clark noted enormous herds of buffalo and deer throughout the whole region. They also record their first abrasive meeting with the natives here, who were known to be fierce warriors. When the expedition crew requested a council with the Teton Lakota Sioux, they were threatened by a chief called The Partisan. Swords were drawn. Tensions ran high. Lewis and Clark were told they would not be allowed to continue upriver. See what happens next on our 3rd stage of Lewis and Clark’s journey! If you aren’t continuing onto the 3rd stage the following week, we'll take you to the airport in Pierre for your own return journey home.
As an optional extra, a person traveling solo on any inn-to-inn trip may reserve a room for his or her exclusive use. This will guarantee you a private room and private bath every night. Unlike other tour companies, if you're willing to share a room, there is no extra charge for coming solo, no matter when you sign up for the tour - even if you wind up with a private room by default.