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National Parks Centennial

Celebrate Montana's NPS Service Areas


Celebrating the National Park Service Centennial in Montana

August 25, 2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service. And while some NPS-designated areas, like Yellowstone and Glacier, come quickly to mind, Montana is home to less-prominent, yet equally inspiring battlefields, recreation areas, trails and monuments. As we embark upon the second century of NPS stewardship, put a few of these bucket-list destinations and their coinciding centennial events on your audience's radar.
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1. Big Hole Battlefield

Tucked between the Pioneer Mountains and Beaverhead Range, a commemorative site honors those who died during the Nez Perce War of 1877. Today, the battlefield is part of the Nez Perce National Historic Park – 38 sites across MT, ID, OR and WA that tell the story of the Nez Perce people and their unsuccessful plight for freedom. Self-guided trails, ranger-led programs, presentations and exhibits are featured year-round.
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2. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Frequently overlooked, Southeast Montana’s Bighorn Canyon offers unparalleled recreational opportunities. Intrepid travelers can float, paddle, and fish the Bighorn River as it winds beneath thousand-foot-high canyon walls. Hikers and bikers can roam above on the Bad Pass Trail. And for those looking to spend the night, over 100 campsites offer prime wildlife viewing opportunities and scenic vista sunsets.
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Situated on the Upper Missouri River in Montana’s northeastern corner, Fort Union was a bustling fur trading hub in the mid-1800s. Nowadays, the Post comes alive each summer when traders and campers, dressed in period costume, gather together to relive life on the frontier during the Fort Union Rendezvous. Pottery lessons, blacksmithing and weaving presentations and even beaver skinning demonstrations entertain visitors as they venture from tent to tent.
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4. Glacier National Park

In 1910, President Taft preserved 1,600 square miles of glacial-carved valleys, rugged peaks, and deep blue lakes. This area – located within the Crown of the Continent – became the nation’s 10th national park. Travelers from around the world marvel at Glacier’s 200 crystalline lakes, explore its 700 miles of hiking trails, and rest their heads at a campground under the starry sky or at one of the park’s historic backcountry chalets.
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5. Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

In its heyday, the Grant-Kohrs Ranch sat at the headquarters of a 10-million-acre cattle operation. Back then, cowboy culture ruled the West. Today, their way of life is still vibrant at the Ranch. Visitors can get a taste for life on the open range during a chuck wagon tour, a cattle roping or horse riding lesson, or at a blacksmithing demonstration. Guided house tours and a seven-mile trail system are open year-round.
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6. Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

In 1805, the Corps of Discovery set out to find an all-water route to the Pacific Ocean. Their voyage took Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark across Montana (and back again), following the Missouri River along the scenic White Cliffs and through the Gates of the Mountains, south to the Bitterroot Range and beyond. On his return, Clark followed the Yellowstone River, leaving his mark at Pompeys Pillar before catching up with Lewis at the Fort Union Trading Post. Preserved by the National Park Service, many of these sites have changed little with time.
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7. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

The Battle of Little Bighorn, colloquially known as Custer’s Last Stand, is one of the most famous conflicts in American history. Participants included General Custer, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and other historical figures who, along with their counterparts, are commemorated on the Crow Indian Reservation in southeast Montana. A visitors center, self-guided tour and museum chronicle the battle, General Custer and the Plains Indian people. The Battle of Little Bighorn Real Bird Reenactment takes place every August.
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8. Nez Perce Historic Trail

The story of the Nez Perce Trail is one of persecution and defeat. It documents the Nee-Me-Poo tribal members as they crossed four states, traveling 1,100 miles and suffering 20 conflicts in an attempt to flee U.S. Calvary until their defeat in the Bears Paw Mountains in 1877. The Trail symbolizes the strength and spirit of its travelers, and is part of the Nee-Me-Poo tribe’s sacred land.
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9. Yellowstone National Park

It all began here in 1872, when US Congress deemed 2.2 million acres of thermal features, forests, mountains and river valleys – home to countless varieties of wildlife - as the world’s first national park. Thanks to these conservation efforts, Yellowstone remains one of the last, nearly-intact ecosystems with the largest concentration of geysers in the world. And while Yellowstone’s human history goes back 11,000 years, this area continues to offer up transformative experiences, positively impacting each traveler as they explore inside the park’s gates.
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