DescriptionEncompassing 38 sites scattered across 12,000 square miles of north-central Idaho as well as 10 sites in Oregon, Washington and Montana, each part of Nez Perce National Historical Park reflects a portion of the history and culture of the Nez Perce Indians and their relationships with white explorers, missionaries, miners, settlers and soldiers.
Some sites are scenic views, some are geologic formations and others contain historic places and buildings. They include the Lolo Trail, Native American battlefields and former campsites of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
For thousands of years the Nez Perce lived in the valleys of the Clearwater and Snake rivers and their tributaries. Their first documented meeting with white settlers in Nez Perce territory took place in September 1805, when the Lewis and Clark expedition encountered them, and the Indians gave supplies and assistance. In 1855 the Nez Perce reluctantly signed a treaty setting aside their ancestral home as a reservation.
A new treaty was negotiated in 1863 with some of the Nez Perce bands after gold was discovered within the reservation; this treaty reduced the reservation to one-tenth of its original size.
The first major battle of the Nez Perce War was on June 17, 1877, near White Bird. The U.S. Army pursued the bands of Nez Perce who had not signed the 1863 treaty across the Nez Perce Trail to Montana. After many battles the Nez Perce surrendered only 40 miles from the Canadian border. They were exiled for 8 years to Oklahoma Territory; the survivors eventually returned to the Pacific Northwest. Today the Nez Perce National Historic Trail parallels much of the original 1877 route. A brochure for a self-guiding walking tour of White Bird Battlefield is available.
The Weippe (WEE-ipe) Prairie, 18 miles east of US 12 on SR 11, is part of Nez Perce National Historical Park. The Idaho section of the Nez Perce Trail and Pass climbs through 150 miles of rough terrain east of Weippe as it ascends the 5,187-foot Lolo Pass through the Bitterroot Mountains.
The park's headquarters and visitor center are in Spalding. Also see Grangeville, Kamiah, Lapwai, Nez Perce National Forest and Orofino.
Spalding Visitor Center open daily 8-5, Memorial Day weekend-Labor Day; 8-4:30, mid-Mar. through day before Memorial Day weekend and day after Labor Day to mid-Nov.; 9-4, rest of year. Closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Free. Phone (208) 843-7009.
Attraction PlaceholderHeart of the Monster