Big Hole Battlefield
Site of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce campsite at Big Hole National Battlefield, Montana, USA
Site of the Nez Perce encampment at Big Hole National Battlefield, Montana, USA

Nestled in a high, wide valley near the southwest corner of Montana, the Big Hole National Battlefield is a hidden gem forged in the heat of a pivotal moment in American history.

Here, on an August morning in 1877, a band of approximately 800 Nez Perce were surprised by U.S. Army troops. Over the next two days dozens of Nez Perce were killed, along with 29 U.S. soldiers — the last, bloodiest battle in the Nez Perce War.

If your idea of a fitting centennial of the National Park Service is a quiet exploration of history and nature, then a visit to the Big Hole National Battlefield might be just the ticket. The historic site features a visitor center and museum. You can also take a self-guided tour of the battlefield.

A little over two hours north lies another unique public treasure, the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site. This 1,600-acre ranch near Deer Lodge was once headquarters to a 10 million-acre cattle empire, established in 1862.

The Grant-Kohrs ranch remains fully operational — using the techniques and equipment of the late 19th century. Not surprisingly, this is a particularly popular stop for kids.

Whether you’re looking for off-the-beaten-track discoveries or just great stops along the route between Glacier and Yellowstone, the Big Hole National Battlefield and the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site deserve a place on your itinerary. And they’re just two of many great destinations in Southwest Montana. The Montana in your mind is the one you’ll find here.

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