The 62,000-acre Trail Creek Fire has closed the Big Hole National Battlefield since early July. Tuesday, October 5, the reception center will reopen to the public. Hours of operation will be Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and parts of the battlefield will remain closed for public safety. The battlefield is the site of a battle that took place on August 9-10, 1877, when American troops overtook more than 800 Nez Perce during Chief Joseph’s 1877 flight. For now, only the Big Hole National Battlefield Visitor Center will be open. Many battlefield trails, the picnic area and the lower parking lot will remain closed until further notice.
The Trail Creek fire started on July 8 with lightning strikes and quickly spread north and south of US Highway 43, forcing the road to close for some time. The blaze had also spread along the hills above the battlefield, forcing authorities to close the park site. Highway 43 later reopened, but was temporarily closed again during the summer so the Montana Department of Transportation could make bridge repairs.
A nearby fire, the Alder Creek Fire, also broke out on July 8 and caused traffic problems when it initially spread to the River Wise. Now, however, the main roads are open and crews are monitoring hot spots in both fire perimeters. Wildfires have burned through the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and Bureau of Land Management areas, forcing closures throughout the Big Hole and up to Gibbonsville, Idaho, which is on high alert for possible evacuation for weeks.
Nearby, Gibbonsville Road is closed (from the east) to Forest Service Road 944, Moosehorn Creek Road. Big Hole Pass remains closed. May Creek Campground and Steel Creek Campground are closed, as are portions of the Continental Divide Trail.
WATCH: Stunning vintage photos capture the beauty of America’s national parks
Today, these parks are spread across the country in 25 states and the US Virgin Islands. The land around them was bought or donated, although much of it was inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world and as spaces for exploration.
Continue to scroll through 50 vintage photos that showcase the beauty of America’s national parks.