Big Hole National Battlefield is located in southwestern Montana, part of the larger Nez Perce National Historical Park, which spans four states. Back in 1877, following violent clashes with white settlers, five bands of the Nez Perce tribe left the Wallowa Valley of Oregon and were followed east by the U.S. Army. After the remaining 800 Nez Perce went over the mountains bypassing an Army blockade at Lolo Pass, they stopped to rest in the Big Hole Valley. A surprise attack by the U.S. Army on the morning of August 9, 1877 led to bloodshed on both sides, with Nez Perce warriors forcing the troops to retreat, capturing a Howitzer cannon, and allowing their women and children to escape towards Yellowstone National Park.
Overlook from visitor center, interpretive film, trail to site of Nez Perce Camp
Start at the visitor center for the 26-minute film and an overview of the battlefield. You are in for a treat if you happen to be around for a presentation by Dr. Bob Brown acting as Major Charles Rawn to describe his historic connection with the site.
The National Park Service visitor center overlooks the battlefield for orientation, and a paved road leads down to a trailhead to access the site of the attack (Nez Perce Camp), and a more strenuous climb to the Siege Area, army trenches, and the Howitzer capture site. Interpretive booklets are available for only $1.00.
Montana is known for its Big Sky, which can be quite beautiful when pierced by the tale teepee poles set up at the site of the Nez Perce camp.
Open year round, but winters are long and snowy in this part of Montana, making summer the best time to visit.
All roads are paved and the Nez Perce Camp Trail is wide and flat enough to allow for wheelchairs.
None in the park, but campgrounds and dispersed camping can be found in nearby Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest.
Explore More – How long was the journey between Wallowa Lake, Oregon and Bear Paw Battlefield in northeastern Montana where 432 Nez Perce were finally captured?