Important Historical Site – Big Hole Battlefield Reopens
The 62,000-acre Trail Creek Fire has kept the Big Hole National Battlefield closed since early July. Tuesday, October 5, the visitor center will reopen to the public. The operating hours will be Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. And portions of the battlefield will remain closed for public safety. The battlefield is the site of a battle that happened August 9 and 10 in 1877, when U.S. troops caught up with over 800 Nez Perce in the Flight of 1877 of Chief Joseph. 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 July 8 by lightning and quickly spread both north and south of US Highway 43, forcing the highway's closure for a while. The fire also had spread along the hillsides above the battleground, causing officials to close the park site. Highway 43 reopened later, but was temporarily closed again during the summer so the Montana Department of Transportation could do bridge repairs.
A nearby fire, the Alder Creek Fire, also started on July 8 and caused traffic problems as it initially spread toward Wise River. Now, however, the main roads are open and crews are monitoring hot spots within both fire perimeters. The forest fires have been burning on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and on the Bureau of Land Management areas, forcing closures throughout the Big Hole and on over to Gibbonsville, Idaho, which has been on alert status for possible evacuation for weeks.
Nearby, the Gibbonsville Road is closed (coming from the east) at Forest Service Road 944, the Moosehorn Creek Road. Big Hole Pass remains closed. The May Creek Campground and the Steel Creek Campground are closed, along with portions of the Continental Divide Trail.