Visit Bear Paw Battlefield

The Bear Paw Battlefield is the location of the final battle of the Nez Perce Flight of 1877. It was here on October 5th, 1877, after an 1,100 mile journey and only forty miles short of the Canadian border, that the Nez Perce laid down arms. Following this five-day battle and siege Chief Joseph gave his immortal speech, "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."

This page provides the information you need to plan your trip.

 
Wooden sign with  the National Park Service Arrowhead logo and the words "Nez Perce National Historical Park Bear Paw Battlefield" carved into it.
This is the sign at the entrance to the Bear Paw Battlefield on Route 240.

NPS photo

Getting to Bear Paw Battlefield

Bear Paw is located on Route 240 sixteen miles south of the town of Chinook in north-central Montana. Staff offices are located in town.

Location:

  • Battlefield Latitude/Longitude:
    48°22'40.35"N 109°12'48.07"W
  • Physical address for staff offices in Chinook, MT.
    301 Ohio Street
    Chinook, MT 59523

Driving to Bear Paw Battlefield

  • From I-15 at Shelby, MT take US 2 one-hundred twenty-three miles east to Chinook, MT. Turn south on Cleveland Rd/Route 240 and drive sixteen miles south to the battlefield.
  • From I-15 at Great Falls, MT take Highway 87 one-hundred-ten miles northeast to Havre, MT. Turn east on US 2 twenty-five miles to Chinook, MT. Turn south on Cleveland Rd/Route 240 and drive sixteen miles south to the battlefield.
  • From I-91 at Malta, MT take US 2 sixty-six miles west to Chinook, MT. Turn south on Cleveland Rd/Route 240 and drive sixteen miles south to the battlefield.

Nearby Airports

  • The Great Falls International Airport is located 155 miles southwest of the battlefield.
  • The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is located 315 miles southwest of the battlefield.
  • The Billings Logan International Airport is located 215 miles south of the battlefield.
  • The Glacier Park International Airport near Kalispell, MT is located 290 miles west of the battlefield.

Nearby Train Stations

  • An Amtrak station is located in Havre, MT 38 miles northwest of the battlefield.

Nearby Bus Stations

  • A Greyhound Bus Station is located in Great Falls, MT 151 miles southwest of the battlefield.

Public Transportation

Public transportation is not available; however, car rentals are available in each of the nearby communities with bus stations, train stations, and airports.

Operating Hours and Seasons

Bear Paw Battlefield is open from sunrise to sunset daily year-round.

Things to Do at Bear Paw Battlefield

Explore the Battlefield

A self-guided 1 ¼ mile interpretive trail winds through the battlefield. The trail is moderate in difficulty. A brochure/trail map is available at the battlefield, the staff offices in town, and the Blaine County Museum. Picnic tables and vault toilets are available on site. Please bring a hat and plenty of water during the hotter summer months.

Battlefield Tours

Rangers are available on site in the summer months to offer guided tours of the battlefield. In the off-season, please call (406) 357-3130 or email us prior to your visit if you would like a ranger to join you at the battlefield.

Blaine County Museum

Nearby in Chinook is the Blaine County Museum. The museum, our partner organization in town, offers the audio/visual presentation, "40 Miles to Freedom," which depicts the battle and siege at Bear Paw. In the summer months, the museum is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Monday through Saturday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (closed noon to 1 pm for lunch) and on Sunday from Noon to 5:00 pm. In September and May the museum is open from Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 5:00 pm. Between October and April the museum is open Monday through Friday, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Nearby Amenities

The Montana Office of Tourism has a trip planning website that will help you locate hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, and other amenities near Bear Paw Battlefield.

Respecting Sacred Ground

Burial sites are sacred to the Nez Perce. Please help us protect and respect the Bear Paw Battlefield.

  • Remain on the trails. Exact locations for all graves are not known, so the entire battlefield is treated like sacred burial site.
  • Eat and prepare food and drinks in the picnic area.
  • Leave all items on monuments around the battlefield in place and undisturbed. The offerings that Nez Perce people leave in memory of their ancestors are sacred.
  • Pay homage to those who lost their lives here between dawn and dusk. The battlefield is closed after dark.
  • Report any damage or suspected violation to the National Park Service at (406) 689-3155 x1010.

Fees, Permits, and Reservations

Recreational Activities

The general public does not need to pay entrance fees, make reservations, or obtain permits from the National Park Service for any recreational activities at Bear Paw Battlefield including hiking, picnicking, or attending ranger programs.

Education and Tour Groups

Educational programs at the battlefield or in the class-room are available for schools and home-school groups. Educational programs can be tailored for any age group and topics can range from introductions to the Nez Perce people and culture to the Nez Perce War of 1877. Educators and organized groups please call (406) 357-3130 or email us to make arrangements.

First Amendment Activities

As in all units of the National Park Service, First Amendment Activities are welcome here. The Designated First Amendment Area 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

Commercial Film Permits

Permits are required for commercial operations wishing to film within the boundaries of Bear Paw Battlefield. Please contact the park superintendent to discuss your film idea and obtain a permit.
Phone: (406) 689-3155 x 1024
Email: e-mail us

Research and Collection Permits

The National Park Service is interested in working with researchers from a wide variety of organizations. Please contact the park superintendent to discuss your project and obtain a permit.
Phone: (406) 689-3155 x 1024
Email: e-mail us

Doing Business in the Park

Appropriate permits are required in order for individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations to provide any goods, activities, services, agreements, or other functions for members, clients, or the public that take place at least in part in Bear Paw Battlefield, that use park resources, and that result in compensation, monetary gain, benefit, or profit. Please contact the park superintendent to discuss your venture and obtain a permit.
Phone: (406) 689-3155 x 1024
Email: e-mail us

 
Painting of Nez Perce people in a snowy  landscape wit h foreboding clouds.

Bear Paw Battlefield History

From September 30 to October 5, 1877, the final battle of the Flight of 1877 took place just 40 miles south of the Canadian border.

Last updated: January 8, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Nez Perce National Historical Park
39063 US Hwy 95

Lapwai, ID 83540-9715

Phone:

(208) 843-7009

Contact Us