• Big Hole National Battlefield, Wisdom Montana

    Big Hole

    National Battlefield Montana


Fox in snowy Big Hole NB landscape

In this breathtaking up-and-down country, temperature and climate vary as much as the terrain does.

NPS photo

In this breathtaking up-and-down country, temperature and climate vary as much as the terrain does, providing a rich seasonal variety of plants and animals. Precipitation may be in the form of snow any month of the year. Rain and the heavy upland winter snowfalls provide adequate moisture for the development of some of the nation's lushest natural grasslands, the sustenance, in turn, of large numbers of deer, elk, and other animals.

Big Hole NB spring landscape

Spring comes late--around late May and June--because of the long winters at Big Hole NB.

NPS photo

Historically, after staying close to the village in winter, the Nez Perce resumed their organized pattern of seasonal movement each spring, traveling to specific areas in a planned sequence. The areas to which they traveled were based primarily on the seasonal availability of plants, animals, and fish. The general pattern was to move higher in elevation as the season progressed, following the availability of maturing roots and berries. By late summer, most of the people were in the mountains, including the Bitterroot Mountains and the Big Hole valley. In the autumn they returned back to the river valleys of Idaho in time for the fall fish runs.

Severe winters are usual in this area. Winter temperatures frequently drop below 32 degrees F, and summer highs may reach only 70 degrees F. Precipitation varies from 20 to 40 inches per year and comes predominantly in snowfall during the winter months.

Did You Know?

Hotchkiss Hill at Bear Paw Battlefield

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.