First People’s Buffalo Jump State Park, located in Ulm, Montana, is a short twenty two minute drive south-west from Great Falls. The 2,000 acre National Historic Landmark is well known for being the largest prehistoric bison cliff in the United States. Today, visitors can plant their own feet on the cliff formation, which Native Americans historically used to hunt and kill bison in mass quantities for survival.
Established in 1972, the roughly three-mile trail is a well-maintained loop with steep slopes on either side of the buffalo jump. The jump includes a mile long sandstone cliff where 18 feet of compacted buffalo remains lay below. According to fellow hikers, the trail is easily accessible for all ages and can be achieved either solo or with your family.
Formerly known as Ulm Pishkun State Park, the day-use-only park can easily be explored in a mere two hours. These two hours may involve investigating the onsite 600 square visitor’s center, which includes a visitor's buffalo culture exhibit, storytelling circles, a classroom, a gallery, and a bookstore. There is also an outdoor amphitheater and a traditional games playing field for the kids. Several picnic tables are available as well for a bite to eat.
In the summer, the visitor’s center and upper access area open at eight a.m. and close at six p.m. However, it doesn’t matter what time of the day you choose to arrive because the park will always offer the panoramic view of the Rocky Mountain Front and Missouri River Valley, and so much more landscape.
Peak season general entrance fees, beginning the third Friday in May till the third Sunday in September, are $6 for vehicles and $4 for walk-ins, bicyclists, and bus passengers. Upcoming events and news can be found online at http://stateparks.mt.gov/calendar/default.html.
Will you and your family be visiting what the archaeology community considers the most significant buffalo jump in the world? If so, let us know what you think about the view, the hike, and the history.