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Inspiring Tour of Bear Paw Battlefield

I grew up knowing about the Bear Paw Battlefield since I was born and raised near there. At that time it was called the Chief Joseph Battlefield but as legislation passed in later years it was renamed to Bear Paw.

Geographically, the battlefield lies near the foothills of the Bear Paw Mountains and it is located 16 miles south of Chinook.

The highway to the battlefield is paved and it is any easy drive from Chinook. You first cross the Milk River and then pass by grassland pastures and some crops.

I always recommend that visitors to Bear Paw Battlefield stop in town at the Blaine County Museum first. There are several displays about the battle and the Nez Perce. There is also a very poignant video about the battle.

Bear Paw Battlefield is the last stop on the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. It is where Chief Joseph surrendered to end the last major Indian battle in the United States, a battle that lasted four months.

If you followed the Nez Perce National Historic Trail you could begin in Joseph, Oregon and end south of Chinook. The 1,170 mile trail passes through federal, tribal, state and private property.

When you turn in to Bear Paw Battlefield you see three large boulders and a plaque about the battle.

There is a self guided trail, probably about 2 miles in length, picnic tables and primitive rest facilities. The community hopes to have a visitor center at the battlefield some day.

There are so many visitors who drive US Hwy 2 and go right through Chinook without allowing sufficient time for this side trip. So…plan your Montana vacation accordingly and spend some time visiting this historic battlefield.

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