Visit Heart of the Monster

According to the nimíipuu (Nez Perce) creation story, Iceye’ye (Coyote) killed a large monster along the Clearwater River near present day Kamiah, Idaho, thus creating different tribes in the region, including the nimíipuu. A rock formation in the area is said to represent the heart of the monster described in the legend. It is sacred to the nimíipuu people.

A sign with the National Park Service Arrowhead and text that reads "Nez Perce National Historical Park Heart of the Monster."
Entrance sign for Heart of the Monster on U.S. 12 East.

NPS photo

Getting to Heart of the Monster

The Heart of the Monster is a 53 acre site located off of U.S. 12 East approximately 60 miles east of the park visitor center in Lapwai, Idaho, and about 2 miles upstream from the bridge that crosses the Clearwater River in east Kamiah, Idaho.


  • Located on U.S. Highway 12 at mile marker 68.

  • Latitude/Longitude
    46°12'38.85"N 116°0'21.36"W

Driving to Heart of the Monster

From Kamiah, Idaho, turn right onto U.S. 12 E/3rd St following signs for Kooskia/Missoula. Continue to follow U.S. 12 E for 2 miles. The Heart of the Monster will be on the right.

Operating Hours and Seasons

Heart of the Monster is open from sunrise to sunset daily year-round.

Things to Do at Heart of the Monster

Explore the Site

This site has an interpretive shelter with two exhibits and an audio program. These give you the background information on the role of legends in Nez Perce culture and tell part of the “Coyote and the Monster” legend in nimipuutímt (Nez Perce) and in English. A short trail (approx. 0.2 miles) leads to the “Heart of the Monster” feature and a small semi circle of seating. Here another audio recording tells the “Coyote and the Monster” legend. Other amenities at this site include RV parking, restrooms, a water fountain, and picnic tables. Either return to your vehicle along the paved trail, or take the unpaved scenic trail to the north and west to make your hike a loop, for a total length of 0.5 miles.

Nearby Amenities

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 Heart of the Monster including hiking or picnicking.

First Amendment Activities

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

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 to obtain a permit:
Phone: (208) 843-7001
e-mail us

Respecting Sacred Ground

As visitors to a spiritual place for the Nez Perce, we ask you treat Heart of the Monster with the same respect and honor you would show to any other sacred or religious site.

  • Resist the tempation to approach, climb upon, or deface the rock features.
  • Digging in the area or collecting rocks is not allowed at this site.
  • Metal detector and drone use is strictly prohibited here and throughout the entire park.
  • Please do not litter.
  • Keep dogs leashed at all times, and pick up any waste they may leave behind.
  • Report any damage or suspected violation to the National Park Service at (208) 843-7001 or email us.

A small rock outcropping surrounded by a fence.
Heart of the Monster Legend

Learn more about the Nez Perce legend, Heart of the Monster.

Last updated: August 31, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Nez Perce National Historical Park
39063 US Hwy 95

Lapwai, ID 83540-9715


208 843-7001

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