Big Hole National Battlefield is one of the 38 sites that make up the Nez Perce National Historical Park
Big Hole National Battlefield was established as a military preserve in 1883. President Taft created the Big Hole Battlefield National Monument on June 23, 1910. The park name was changed to Big Hole National Battlefield on May 17, 1963.
Big Hole National Battlefield
- Big Hole National Battlefield
- Top things to do at Big Hole National Battlefield
- Things to know when planning a visit to Big Hole National Battlefield
- National Parks near Big Hole National Battlefield
In early August 1877 a large group of nimí·pu, Nez Perce Native Americans, made camp in the Bitterroot Valley after passing over LoLo Pass in Montana.
They had been fleeing the military for a while and felt like they were finally safe. Unfortunately on the morning of August 9, 1877, the US Military surprised the sleeping men, women, and children by attacking them.
Between 60 to 90 nimí·pu were killed during the attack. After the battle, the remaining tribal members fled south crossing into Idaho heading towards Yellowstone National Park.
Top things to do at Big Hole National Battlefield
Visit the Visitor Center
The visitor center is a great place to start your visit. The park movie Weet’uciklitukt: There’s No Turning Back, Battle at Big Hole shares what happened on August 9 and 10, 1877.
The visitor center has a small museum area and a great view over the battlefield.
Enjoy a Ranger Led Hike
Late June through late September on Saturdays and Sundays Ranger lead hikes from 1.2 to 2 miles round trip starting at 10 am and lasting 90 minutes. These battlefield hikes take you back in history and detail what happened in August 1877.
Enjoy a Ranger Led Deck Talk
11 am and 1:30 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. 11 am, 1:30 pm, and 3 pm on weekdays if staffing allows. Enjoy a deck talk with a Park Ranger with a great view of the battlefield from the visitor center, you can learn more about the battle and events that happened here.
Take a Hike
There are three hiking trails in the park that are open year-round. During the summer and fall trail guides are available at the trailheads for $1.00, during the winter ask for them at the visitor center.
Nez Perce Camp Trail – 1.6 miles round-trip walking trail with no elevation gain
Siege Area Trail – 1.2 miles round-trip and climbs about fifty feet in elevation
The Howitzer Trail – 0.8-mile spur trail off of the Siege Area trail that climbs 320 feet in elevation
As you walk around the battlefield, please be respectful to those who died here. Refrain from taking your pets on the trails.
Attend the Annual Commemoration of the Battle of the Big Hole
Location: Nez Perce Camp on the battlefield
Events include a pipe ceremony and drum circle (NO PHOTOS)
Mike Penney and the Nez Perce Nation Drum will do drum and song at the visitor center at 2 pm.
Everyone is invited to attend and there is no admission fee. For your own comfort, bring a chair or blanket, hat, sunscreen, lunch, umbrella, and mosquito repellent.
Attend Annual Commemoration of the Battle of Bear Paw
Location – Bear Paw Battlefield, Chinook MT
Things to know when planning a visit to Big Hole National Battlefield
Park Address – 16425 Highway 43 West, Wisdom, Montana 59761
Big Hole National Battlefield is located on Highway 43 ten miles west of the town of Wisdom in southwestern Montana.
Bear Paw Battlefield is located on Route 240 sixteen miles south of the town of Chinook in north-central Montana.
Latitude/Longitude: 45°38’27.64″N / 113°38’35.88″W
Park phone number – (406) 689-3155
Entrance Fee – There is no fee to visit Big Hole National Battlefield
Visitor Center hours, the visitor center is open daily year-round except for on federal holidays October through February.
Summer Hours: 9 am to 5 pm.
Winter Hours: 10 am to 5 pm.
Big Hole National Battlefield is located at about 6,300 feet above sea level! Be prepared to slow down when visiting the park if you are not used to this elevation.
The official brochure and map for Big Hole National Battlefield are available for download below.
- Big Hole National Battlefield brochure and map – side one (PDF – 3,716kb)
- Big Hole National Battlefield brochure and map – side two (PDF – 5,743kb)
National Parks near Big Hole National Battlefield
Grant-Kohrs National Historic Site – 85 miles
Yellowstone National Park – 250 miles
Glacier National Park – 355 miles
Little Big Horn National Battlefield – 370 miles