Bear Paw Battlefield in Central Montana

One of three sites of the Nez Perce National Historic Park in Montana, the Bear Paw Battlefield is located 16 miles south of Chinook on Highway 240. At this site, the Nez Perce Indians surrendered to the US Army on October 5, 1877, after a 1,300 mile retreat. It was here that Chief Joseph spoke his famous words, “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” Facilities include a picnic shelter and restrooms. Overnight camping is not permitted. Wayside exhibits and markers on a 1.25 mile groomed trail through the battlefield interpret this historic event. Park Ranger guided tours are available during the summer by calling 406-357-3130. Also, one can do a self-guided tour.

Bear Paw Battlefield is the final stop on the 1300-mile Nez Perce National Historic Trail that traces the retreat of this tribe's non-treaty bands during the 1877 War. The Trail starts in Joseph, Oregon and passes through federal, tribal, state, local and privately owned land in four western states. The battlefield is a part of Nez Perce National Historical Park and Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail.

Bear Paw Battlefield Video

Nez Perce Trail

Nez Perce Trail Sign

The Nez Perce’s long flight from the US Army through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana ended near Chinook and resulted in exile to Canada and Oklahoma. The Nez Perce were just 40 miles from freedom in Canada when they surrendered.

Cow Island Landing: This remote supply depot at the western limit of low-water navigation on the Upper Missouri refused to sell supplies to the Nez Perce. In a September 1877 skirmish, the Nez Perce destroyed the depot’s supplies before continuing north up Cow Creek drainage toward Canada. Accessible by boat.

Bear Paw Battlefield: The site is a tribute to the Nez Perce people and the battle ending the Nez Perce War of 1877. From here, the trail divides: some escaped to Canada, while others were relocated to Oklahoma. Annual commemoration takes place the first week of October.

The Nez Perce National Historic Trail, designated by Congress in 1986, stretches from the Wallowa Valley of Eastern Oregon to the plains of north-central Montana.

Download “Experience the Nez Perce Trail” Brochure


Blaine County Museum

Blaine County Museum

Chinook's Blaine County Museum (501 Indiana Avenue) offers a unique multi-media presentation “40 Miles from Freedom” that describes the Battle. The museum also contains an excellent bookstore and a variety of exhibits on local history, wildlife, and paleontology. Hours are subject to change. Call 406-357-2590 for more information.

LEARN MORE


The Last Battle Motorcycle Ride

Approx. round trip distance: 275 miles
Approx. drive time: 5 hours

Ride from Great Falls northeast on US 87 past Fort Benton, Big Sandy, Box Elder, then to the junction of US 87 and 2.

MORE


Brochure Image

Blog icon From the Blog

Chief Joseph Ride

Chief Joseph Trail riders on horseback

MORE

July 26, 2016 by Central Montana

Inspiring Tour of Bear Paw

Bear Paw Battlefield interpretive panels

MORE

June 19, 2012 by Central Montana

A Solemn Experience

Bear Paw Battlefield site and monument.

MORE

October 10, 2013 by Central Montana