The soils of Big Hole Battlefield, Bear Paw Battlefield, and Canyon Creek are dominated by calcification with large deposits of calcium carbonate. Many of the soils in the sagebrush steppe areas consist of alluvial deposits in stream floodplains and windblown sand and loess.
Conifer and alpine meadow soils are relatively shallow, having been formed from a variety of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. The shallowness of the soils does not play a major role in determining forest distribution. Additional soils have been deposited on the foothills from loess and volcanic ash.
Brief description of soils that may be found at Big Hole National Battlefield:
Alluvium–Gravel, sand, silt, and clay along active channels of rivers, creeks and tributaries.
Alluvial fan deposits—Gravel, sand, silt, and clay deposited in fans being formed by modern streams along major valley margins.
Landslide deposits—Unconsolidated mixture of soil and blocks of bedrock transported down steep slopes by mass wasting.
Glacial till—unsorted mixture of clay- to boulder-size material transported and deposited by glaciers.
Did You Know?
During the Bear Paw Battle, Colonel Nelson A. Miles placed a 1.65" Hotchkiss gun on the cutbank hill (left of the tree)to shell the Nez Perce and lay siege to their camp area. Hotchkiss shell and fuse fragments were found on this site and are housed at the Blaine County Museum in Chinook, Montana.