Big Hole Battlefield

On August 9, 1877 gun shots shattered the chilly dawn on a sleeping camp of Nez Perce. By the time the smoke cleared on August 10, almost 90 Nez Perce were dead along with 31 soldiers and volunteers.

Big Hole National Battlefield was created to honor all who were there. It’s part of Nez Perce National Historical Park — 38 sites in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington that tell the tragic story of the Nez Perce War.

A visit here begins at the visitor center, where a film, museum, and book store provide an overview of the events that took place on the battlefield. During the summer, ranger-guided activities take place daily. With its viewing scopes, the outside observation deck is a great place to view the battlefield and watch for wildlife. There are self-guided trails through the battlefield, and the story is told in detail. Along the way, it’s good to slow down, listen to the soulful winds, gaze at the mountains, and think.

The Big Hole National Battlefield is high elevation, and dry. It’s a good idea to take it easy and bring plenty of drinking water. Wear layers, and bring insect repellant in the summer. Entrance to the park is free, and it’s open daily. Summer hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and winter hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The visitor center is closed on legal holidays. The battlefield itself is open from sunrise to sunset daily.