NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Nez Perce National Historical Park, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington

Geodiversity refers to the full variety of natural geologic (rocks, minerals, sediments, fossils, landforms, and physical processes) and soil resources and processes that occur in the park. A product of the Geologic Resources Inventory, the NPS Geodiversity Atlas delivers information in support of education, Geoconservation, and integrated management of living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the ecosystem.

view from canyon overlook
Joseph Canyon.


Nez Perce National Historical Park (NEPE) includes 38 sites distributed across Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Montana (Clark, Clearwater, Idaho, Lewis, and Nez Perce Counties, Idaho; Okanogan County, Washington; Wallowa County, Oregon; and Beaverhead, Blain, and Yellowstone Counties, Montana). Eight sites are owned and managed by the National Park Service: Spalding (park unit headquarters), Bear Paw, Buffalo Eddy, Canoe Camp, Heart of the Monster, Old Chief Joseph Grave, White Bird Battlefield, and Big Hole National Battlefield (see BIHO for more information). Established on May 15, 1965, NEPE encompasses approximately 1,847 hectares (4,565 acres) and commemorates the history, culture, and contributions of the Nez Perce. The park includes sites associated with the Nez Perce War of 1877 and the flight of Chief Joseph and his band. Several of the park sites are connected by the Nez Perce National Historic Trail which preserves the route taken by Chief Joseph and his band of Nez Perce when they attempted to reach Canada in 1877.

Geologic Setting

The bedrock geology of Nez Perce National Historical Park consists of sedimentary and igneous rocks that span in age from the Triassic to more recent surficial deposits. Some of the oldest rocks in the park are located along the Snake River in the Bear Paw Unit and are represented by the Triassic Wild Creek Sheep Formation of the Seven Devils Group and Cretaceous-age sedimentary rocks of the Telegraph Creek and Carlile Formations. Volcanic rocks of the Miocene-age Grande Ronde Basalt of the Columbia River Basalt Group are mapped in the Buffalo Eddy, Spalding, and White Bird Battlefield units. Younger Quaternary deposits are found in the Camp Canoe, Heart of the Monster, Old Chief Joseph Grave, Spalding, and White Bird Battlefield units and represent alluvium (unconsolidated deposits of sand, silt, clay, and gravel), mass-wasting deposits, active landslide deposits, alluvial fans, and terrace gravels.

Regional Geology

Nez Perce National Historical Park is a part of the Great Plains, Northern Rocky Mountains, and Columbia Plateau Physiographic Provinces and park units share a geologic history and some characteristic geologic formations with regions that extends well beyond park boundaries.

Maps and Reports

The Geologic Resources Inventory produces digital geologic maps and reports for more than 270 natural resource parks. The products listed below are currently available for this park, check back often for updates as many maps, reports, and posters are still in progress.
  • Scoping summaries are records of scoping meetings where NPS staff and local geologists determined the park’s geologic mapping plan and what content should be included in the report.
  • Digital geologic maps include files for viewing in GIS software, a guide to using the data, and a document with ancillary map information. Newer products also include data viewable in Google Earth and online map services.
  • Reports use the maps to discuss the park’s setting and significance, notable geologic features and processes, geologic resource management issues, and geologic history.
  • Posters are a static view of the GIS data in PDF format. Newer posters include aerial imagery or shaded relief and other park information. They are also included with the reports.
  • Projects list basic information about the program and all products available for a park.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 3031. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

NPS Soil Resources Inventory project has been completed for Nez Perce National Historical Park and can be found on the NPS Data Store.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 3078. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Related Articles

Nez Perce National Historical Park

National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas

The servicewide Geodiversity Atlas provides information on geoheritage and geodiversity resources and values within the National Park System. This information supports science-based geoconservation and interpretation in the NPS, as well as STEM education in schools, museums, and field camps. The NPS Geologic Resources Division and many parks work with National and International geoconservation communities to ensure that NPS abiotic resources are managed using the highest standards and best practices available.

Nez Perce National Historical Park

Last updated: July 11, 2024