DescriptionBig Hole National Battlefield is 10 miles west of Wisdom on SR 43. Covering 655 acres of Nez Perce National Historical Park, the site commemorates the battle fought Aug. 9-10, 1877, when U.S. troops aided by civilian volunteers staged a surprise attack against several bands of Nez Perce Indians. The Nez Perce were attempting to escape confinement to a reservation by fleeing to Idaho Territory.
Although victorious at Big Hole, the Nez Perce sustained severe losses—approximately 90 men, women and children were killed. These losses forced their surrender 2 months later on Oct. 5, 1877, in the Bear Paw Mountains. Some 250 Nez Perce escaped to Canada.
The battlefield became a military reserve in 1883, a national monument in 1910 and a national battlefield in 1963. The visitor center displays Native American and military items and presents an audiovisual program about the battle. An observation deck features scopes for wildlife viewing. Interpretive trails traverse the battlefield to the areas where the soldiers retreated and the Nez Perce camped.
Allow 30 minutes minimum for the visitor center and 1 hour, 30 minutes for the battlefield. Battlefield open daily dawn-dusk. Visitor center open daily 9-5, late Apr.-Sept. 30; 10-5, rest of year. Phone for information about tipi-raising sessions. Guided tours are offered daily, July-Aug. Visitor center closed Jan. 1, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Battlefield Road is closed to automobile traffic in winter; skiing and snowshoeing are permitted. Free. Phone (406) 689-3155.