Early Morning at First Peoples Buffalo Jump

I’m going to say that I was at First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park at sunrise but I was probably about 30 minutes late. That’s early this time of year! You do capture some beautiful light at that time of day though.

I always say there are two distinct parks within First Peoples. The visitor center at the base of the cliff is my history lesson portrayed in a series of well-done displays. It shows how many of the Plains Indian tribes used this geographic feature. I usually prefer to stop at the visitor center first, then drive up to the top of the jump. My early arrival was before the visitor center opened so I drove right to the top of the jump the other day.

The next park within this park is the actual cliff that served as the buffalo jump. Some people think the impressive square butte that looms in the background is the buffalo jump. Not so, but it makes a very dramatic feature when you are driving to the park.

The top of the buffalo jump is open from 5am to 10pm. There are trails with interpretive signage, restrooms and, off to your right as you walk towards the cliff edge is a prairie dog town. Black tailed prairie dogs and their mounds (homes) dot the landscape. It’s fun to watch these animals popping in and out of their mounds and chirping relentlessly.

This photo is taken from the top of the buffalo jump, just as you begin walking from the parking area. You can see part of square butte in the background and some early morning mist hugging the mountains nearby.

The prairie dog town runs all through the golden area.

Early morning is probably the best time to photograph the buffalo jump although I’ve taken many pictures at various times that turned out not too bad.

This next photo is one of my favorites that I shot the other day.

As you walk the paved trail to the edge of the cliff, on your left are three remnants of Native American sweat lodges. When I started to get ready to take the photo, a western meadowlark (Montana’s state bird) was singing at the top of his lungs! My luck of the draw, by time I was ready to take the photo, he was gone.

It’s a poignant scene when you see the sweat lodges and you can easily transport yourself back in time.

The beautiful morning light made it even prettier.

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