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For Native Americans, bison, also referred to as buffalo, are revered symbols of strength and unity. Celebrate bison, see them roam and discover how the national mammal helped mold the state on this adventure across badlands and prairies.
ROUTE: GREAT FALLS > FORT BENTON > VIRGELLE > HAVRE > MALTA > LEWISTOWN > FORT BENTON > GREAT FALLS
Discover Great Falls, home to the C.M. Russell Museum, a tribute to legendary Western artist Charlie Russell. In Ulm, visit the First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park, a sandstone cliff with nearly 18 feet of compacted bison remains below the jump. This park is also a ceremony site used by the Little Shell Tribe.
Journey to the birthplace of Montana, Fort Benton. At the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument Interpretive Center, buy a two-day admission that includes the center, Old Fort Benton, Museum of the Upper Missouri and Museum of the Northern Great Plains.
VIRGELLE & HAVRE
Antique in Virgelle and stop at Wahkpa Chu’gn Archaeological Site in Havre (open June to Labor Day) to see a buffalo jump with an excavated wall of archaeological deposits, including compacted buffalo bones and skulls. See bison roam on a guided tour of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation’s buffalo reserve.
MALTA & LEWISTOWN
Follow the self-guided Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge auto tour, which parallels the Missouri River. Northwest of Lewistown, ride the Charlie Russell Chew Choo Montana dinner train (available select weekend days in summer and early fall).
Discover Bear Gulch Pictographs, a 313-million-year-old limestone inland sea formation with more than 3,000 drawings by ancient peoples.
Fort Belknap is the agency headquarters for the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. The Gros Ventre and the Assiniboine, who were former enemies, have lived together on the reservation since it was set aside for them in 1887. It has great cultural significance to the tribes, and petroglyphs and tipi rings can be found there. Every summer the Milk River Indian Days powwow is held in Fort Belknap.