My Public Lands Roadtrip: Pompeys Pillar
From the top of Pompeys Pillar, several majestic mountain ranges can be seen towering over the valleys and the Yellowstone River below. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like when the Lewis and Clark Expedition made its way through this area, when it was still mostly untouched.
Today, Pompeys Pillar features the only remaining physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In 1806, William Clark etched his initials and date into the sandstone pillar, which he named after the expedition’s littlest traveler Sacajawea’s son Baptiste Charbonneau. Clark had nicknamed the baby Pomp.
Clark described Pompeys Pillar in his journal: “This rock I ascended and from its top had a most extensive view in every direction on the Northerly Side of the river high romantic Clifts approach & jut over the water for Some distance both above and below… I marked my name and the day of the month and year."
Visitors can visit this historic landmark roughly 30 minutes east of Billings, Montana. The Pillar was proclaimed a national monument in 2001 and is part of the National Conservation Lands System. The area now features an interpretive center and a boardwalk that takes visitors up to Clark’s signature and the crest of the sandstone formation along with trails that follow the Yellowstone River.
Each July, the monument hosts Clark Days, which features re-enactments and historical and natural resource information centers in addition to numerous other activities.
To find out more about Pompeys Pillar, the areas extensive history and view an interactive map of the national monument, please visit on.doi.gov/1Pqo0UL.