Laws & Policies

A variety of rules and regulations help protect battlefield resources and provide visitors with a safe and enjoyable experience. Together the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and the Superintendent's Compendium provide a complete listing of park rules and regulations designed to care for this national treasure.

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

National park management across the country is regulated by a variety of laws including the 1916 National Park Service Organic Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Historic Sites Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Clean Water Act. Title 36 parts 1-199 of the Code of Federal Regulations is the most comprehensive listing of these rules. Laws listed here pertain to all National Park sites, including Big Hole and Bear Paw.

Superintendent's Compendium

Rules that pertain only to the Nez Perce National Historic Park (including Big Hole and Bear Paw) are outlined the Superintendent's Compendium. This document provides a list of closures, permit requirements, and other regulations governing public use that are imposed under the discretionary authority of the superintendent. All rules listed under the 2014 Superintendent's Compendium are currently in effect.

 
Photo of a sign found at federal facilities where firearms and other weapons are not allowed.
The sign reads, "Warning, Firearms Prohibited. Federal law prohibits the possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon in this Federal facility unless specifically authorized. 18 USC 930(a) possession violations are subject to fine and/or imprisonment up to one year.

18 USC 930(b) possession violations with an intent to commit a crime are punishable by a fine and imprisonment up to five years.

Firearms Information

As of February 22, 2010, federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal and Montana state law, to legally possess firearms in this park. Under federal law, the use or discharge of a firearm is still prohibited by applicable provisions of 36 CFR Section 2.4(a)(2)(ii) and 36 CFR Section 13.30.

Federal law also prohibits firearms in the Big Hole Visitor Center and Headquarters building. Public entrances are marked with signs.

It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable federal and Montana state, and local firearms laws before entering Big Hole or Bear Paw Battlefields. As a starting point, please visit:

In addition, you may want to read the section 512 of the "Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009," which is the law that allows firearms in National Parks.
 

First Amendment Activities

As in all units of the National Park Service, First Amendment Activities are welcome here. The Designated First Amendment Area for Big Hole is located south of the Visitor Center just past the tipi demonstration area next to the parking lot. For Bear Paw it is located near the restroom and picnic shelter.

First Amendment activities must not interfere with other permitted activities or regular park programing. Groups of less than 25 people are exempt from filing a permit request. Groups of 25 or more must contact the park superintendent to obtain a permit:
Phone: (406) 689-3155 x 1024
e-mail us

Common Violations To Avoid

National Parks Service areas do not allow activities that would destroy part of the park. If you leave the park the way it was before you arrived by following the Leave No Trace principles, you're on the right track to being a good steward of your national park. Common violations that you should avoid include:

Taking objects. Federal law prohibits digging for historic artifacts, removing artifacts, historic objects, antlers/horns, skulls, plants, rocks, etc. Leave these items for the next visitor to discover and enjoy.

Operating a metal detector. According 36 Code of Federal Regulations 2.1(a)(7) the possession or use of a metal detector magnetometer, side scan sonar, other metal detecting device or subbottom profiler is prohibited on National Park Service property.

Operating a drone or other unmanned aircraft. Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Big Hole or Bear Paw Battlefields is prohibited except as approved in writing by the superintendent. Further details are available in the director's policy memorandum 14-05 regarding the use of unmanned aircraft.

Walking off established trails. Remember that many people died at the Big Hole and Bear Paw Battlefields, including infants, women, children, and the elderly in addition to the soldiers and warriors. Their final resting places remain unmarked. For this reason, the battlefields are sacred ground, like all cemetaries. Please respect the dead and their living ancestors by remaining on designated trails at both battlefields. Walking off trail is prohited by law.

Taking your pet where it is not permitted or failing to pick up its waste. Pets must be leashed at all times while in the park. Pets are allowed on paved roads, but only service animals are allowed in the Big Hole Visitor Center or on the trails at either battlefield. Plastic bags for pet waste are provided at a station in the visitor center parking lot at Big Hole. Thank you for your cooperation.

Fishing without a state license. Sport fishing is allowed in the North Fork of the Big Hole River at the Big Hole National Battlefield. The National Park Service and the State of Montana cooperatively manage the wildlife resources in the park, therefore you must posses a valid Montana state fishing license and you must comply with State of Montana sport fishing regulations.

Harassing or disturbing wildlife. If a bird or animal changes its behavior due to your presence, you have disturbed it.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 237
Wisdom, MT 59761

Phone:

(406) 689-3155

Contact Us