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Big Hole Valley

The Big Hole Valley is a 60-mile swath of high plains, with the valley floor at 6,500 feet, surrounded by snow capped peaks ranging up to 10,000 feet.  It was a prime hunting ground for Native Americans and a lure for fur trappers and gold miners - mainly fair weather visitors.  Because of the long harsh winters the Big Hole was the last valley in western Montana to be settled, but in 1882 a few hardy souls began a new life near the present day town of Wisdom.  In time, cattle operations proved feasible - after a lot of hard work and ingenuity.     

A day trip from Alta Meadow to the Big Hole will take you over the Continental Divide through Chief Joseph Pass.  Upon entering the valley one can visit the Big Hole Battlefield, now preserved as a national monument, where a Nez Perce encampment was attacked by soldiers in 1872.  The little town of Wisdom is just down the road, a genuine slice of the old west and an opportunity to browse, shop, and have lunch in the local gallery/boutique/restaurant.  

The road east out of Wisdom runs along the Big Hole River toward the town of Wise River, with lots of good fishing along the way.  This emphasis on things wise probably comes from the original name of the Big Hole River.  It was dubbed the Wisdom River by William Clark of the Corp of Discovery.  

At the southern end of the valley is Bannack, a ghost town now preserved as a state park.  The drive from Bannack back  to Alta Meadow takes about two hours and is beautiful all the way.  Below are pictures taken in the Big Hole and a map of the area.

battlefield.jpg (67146 bytes)bighole.jpg (116557 bytes)eagle jpg.jpg (47121 bytes)

teepee.jpg (65244 bytes)big hole barn.jpg (56799 bytes)haystack.jpg (84090 bytes)

Click on an image to enlarge it.                 


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