Old cabins like this are on...
Old cabins like this are on private property and should be viewed from the road.
On September 30, Miles attacked the Nez Perce. Both sides took heavy losses, but the Indians were trapped. The battles continued for five more days until Howard arrived with his soldiers. The Nez Perce had managed to kill 20 percent of Miles' forces, but they had not been able to get past him. With the new enforcements, what little headway the Nez Perce had gained was gone.
During the night, Chief White Bird and more than 200 of those fit for travel skirted past the Army and crossed the border into Canada. The next day Joseph surrendered and uttered his famous words: “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”
Contrary to promises made, the captured Indians were not permitted to return to the Idaho reservation. Instead, they were sent to Oklahoma.
The Trail Today
The road crosses in and out...
The road crosses in and out of the Belknap Indian Reservation. We stayed on the road and did not see any signs warning us to go back.
The trail from Big Hole to Bear Paw is well documented in the guidebook Following the Nez Perce Trail, written by Cheryl Wilfong. Much of the Montana parts follow faint trails through remote country. Of course the part through Yellowstone is all paved and does not actually follow the path taken by the Indians or the army.
Lone Writer and Happy Jack followed the trail into the Missouri Breaks in Montana by way of a town called Winifred. They got within view of Cow Crossing at the Missouri River, but there is no bridge at that point. They backtracked to the Stafford Ferry but it was out of service due to floods earlier that year. They then attempted to cross the river by following the Lower Two Calf Road but the road was completely washed away at Two Calf Creek. All of that traveling took a lot of time, but it was well worth it. The dirt roads and two track trails in the Missouri Breaks offer spectacular views and great camping opportunities.
Lone Writer and Happy Jack finished their trip to Bear Paw by crossing the Missouri River at Judith Landing. After making that crossing, they picked up the Nez Perce Trail on the north side of the Missouri Breaks. The Bear Paw battlefield is located in a remote hilly area. There is a hiking path through the battlefield with historic markers along the way.
The Nez Perce crossed the...
The Nez Perce crossed the Missouri River at the islands below. There are 4X4 roads on both sides of the river that can provide access to the banks of the river but not from this point.
|Navigation: GPS Positions
||Big Hole Battlefield
||Winifred, Montana, is the only place in the area with gas pumps. They are not 24-hour pumps, so time your visit during business hours or carry your own gas with you.
||The Nez Perce went down the canyon wall at this point. They crossed the river at Cow Crossing.
||Two Calf Creek was washed out at this point. If it has been repaired, the road goes through to Highway 191.
||If the Stafford Ferry is back in operation, you could have used it to get to this point from Winifred.
||This is the Bear Paw Battlefield Park. A picnic area is available and a hiking trail through the battlefield has been constructed. Watch for rattlesnakes in warm weather.
Chief Joseph’s famous quote...
Chief Joseph’s famous quote is engraved above his image: “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” On October 5, 1877, Joseph surrendered to Colonel Nelson A. Miles.
Much of the information used in this story was obtained from a well-written guidebook called Following the Nez Perce Trail
by Cheryl Wilfong. This book contains many of the actual stories as told by those who participated in the war.
Additional information was obtained by watching the 1975 made-for-TV movie, I Will Fight No More Forever, which can be found on the Internet.
Maps and other information were provided by the Nez Perce Trail Foundation: 194 Hwy 28, Salmon, ID 83467, (208) 940-0053. You are invited to join the foundation. Your membership fees help to support improvements to the trail.
The Xterra Pro-4X driven by Lone Writer is provided by Nissan. Tires are provided by BFGoodrich. GPS and mapping software is provided by DeLorme. For more information, visit www.lone-writer.com.