Nez Perce NHP Sites - Idaho
Highway 95 Corridor
Donald MacKenzie established a trading post near the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers in September 1812. The Nez Perce were not interested in the fur trade and MacKenzie sold out to the British.
Directions: A turnout at the top of the Lewiston grade on US Hwy 95, about 8 miles north of Lewiston, Idaho.
Coyote and Black Bear got into an argument. In frustration, Coyote threw his fishing net on a hill and tossed Black Bear on another, turning him into stone. Both features are visible today.
Ant and Yellowjacket were arguing over who had the right to sit on a particular rock to enjoy some Salmon when they got into an argument. Coyote asked them to stop. They continued to fight, whereby Coyote turned them into a stone arch that is visible today.
The Spalding site has seen many uses by the Nez Perce and was the location of Henry and Eliza Spalding's mission. The park's visitor center and museum is located here as well. Nearby is where the Spalding's first settled in 1836.
Directions: The Spalding site is the location of the park's visitor center. It's approximately 11 miles east of Lewiston, Idaho on Hwy. 95.
Northern Idaho Indian Agency
As part of the treaty process, the U.S. Government set up an agency to oversee the implementation of the terms of the treaties. The old agency building is currently closed.
In 1862, a detachment of volunteers chose this location for their fort. The 1883 officers' quarters at the southwest end of the parade ground is one of the few original buildings to have survived.
Directions: In the town of Lapwai, Idaho. From Hwy 95, turn west on Parade Ave and proceed three blocks to 'A' St. Turn left and you will see the officers quarters, a large white structure.
This is the site of the claim by the first Euro-American settler in Idaho. William Craig was a mountain man, an interpreter, and friend of the Nez Perce.
St. Joseph's Mission
Skirmishes with the U.S. Army and volunteers occurred near here on July 3 and 5, 1877.
Directions: A highway turnout is approximately two miles south of Cottonwood, Idaho, on the east side of US Hwy. 95.
Directions: The site is eight miles south of Cottonwood, Idaho along Graves Creek road, seven miles west of US Hwy 95.
Where wheat fields stretch to the horizon today, camas once grew. Camas bulbs were a major food source for the Nez Perce. They are still gathered here in late summer and early fall to dig them.
In 1877, the non-treaty bands congregated at this ancient council site, known as Tepahlewam, before moving onto the reservation. Frustrated by injustices against the Nez Perce, three Nez Perce warriors raided homesteads on the Salmon River from this site and killed some settlers.
Directions: From Hwy. 95 south, turn left on Lake Road and proceed approximately 3 miles to the Lake.
On June 17, 1877, the first battle of the Nez Perce War was fought here. The U.S. cavalry was defeated with heavy losses and the Nez Perce began their long journey to find safety and sanctuary. A self-guided walking tour of the battlefield is available at the trailhead.
Directions: There are two locations, a turn out on the highway and direct access to the battlefield. An interpretive shelter and overlook are on the west side of the White Bird grade, Hwy 95, about half way down the hill. To access the battlefield, turn off Hwy. 95 at the bottom of the white bird grade. There is a 'T' intersection in town. Head north for approximately five miles. There is limited parking at the trail head.
Highway 12 and 13 Corridors
Directions: The Clearwater Battlefield is interpreted at a highway pullout on the west side of Highway 13, approximately two miles south of Stites, Idaho.
This is the location of the Heart of the Monster, where Coyote defeated a monster and, in turn, created the Nez Perce people. Audio stations tell the story in English and in the Nez Perce languages.
Directions: The site is two miles up from Kamiah, Idaho along Hwy 12. Restrooms and parking are available.
Asa Smith Mission
Directions: A highway pullout on US Hwy 12 approximately one mile east of Kamiah, Idaho.
Near here Lewis and Clark camped among the Nez Perce for nearly a month in the spring of 1806.
In the early fall of 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition rested here and built canoes of hollowed-out logs for the final leg of their trip to the Pacific Ocean.
Directions: Canoe Camp is next to the Clearwater River approximately four miles west of Orofino, Idaho, on US Hwy 12. Restrooms are available.
This was a root-gathering place for the Nez Perce and it was here on September 20, 1805, that Lewis and Clark first met the Nez Perce. During the 1877 War, the Nez Perce came here after the Battle of the Clearwater.
Directions: Head north on Hwy 11 from Hwy 12. Continue to the town of Weippe. Where 11 makes a hard left, continue straight on E. Pierce St. to Cemetery Rd. Turn right and head east to Larson Road and turn left. Head south several hundred years and you will see the pullout.
In September 1860, gold was found on the Nez Perce reservation, triggering another treaty that reduced the size of the reservation. The other site of interest is the old Shoshone County courthouse, completed in 1862 and the oldest public building in Idaho.
Directions: The courthouse is located one block off Main St. (Idaho Hwy 11) behind the J. Howard Bradbury Logging Museum in Pierce, Idaho.
Directions: Head north on Hwy 11 from Hwy 12. Continue to the town of Weippe. Where 11 makes a hard left, continue straight on Musselshell Road. Follow the signs to the Musselshell work center. Pullout opposite of the US Forest Service Musselshell work center.
This historic Nez Perce trail was used by Lewis and Clark in 1805 and 1806. During the 1877 War the Nez Perce followed the trail on into Montana. The U.S. Forest Service maintains a visitor center and rest area at Lolo Pass.
Directions: Visitors can retrace the route that Lewis and Clark took in 1805 and 1806 on U.S. Highway 12 over Lolo Pass or on a primitive dirt road known as the Lolo Motorway or Forest Road 500. A rest area and visitor center are located at Lolo Pass. PLEASE NOTE: Forest Road 500 is suitable only for high clearance vehicles. Trailers are not recommended.
Looking Glass' 1877 Campsite
Directions: The site of the village is currently occupied by the Kooskia fish hatchery. There is a pullout along Hwy 12, outside of Kooskia that speaks of the events that took place in 1877.
Directions: The site is located at the southern end of Hellsgate State Park in Lewiston, Idaho.
After the tragedy at Big Hole, the Nez Perce gained time by stealing more than 200 of the Army's pack mules and horses, halting their advance.
Directions: The battlefield is interpreted at a rest stop on Interstate 15 at Dubois, Idaho.
Did You Know?
In September of 1805 Lewis and Clark crossed into Nez Perce country. A debate ensued among the Nez Perce. Should they assist these strangers or attack them? A female Nez Perce elder, Wetxuuwíis (Wet-k'hoo-wees)urged her people to do them no harm. Her words were heeded; the expedition was welcomed.