Posts Tagged ‘Lewis and Clark’

Spalding Visitor Center, Nez Perce National Historical Park

Spalding Visitor Center, Nez Perce National Historical Park

As the Snake River flows north out of Hell’s Canyon, there is a quiet place where the current takes a curious turnabout. It moves down the center of the river and turns upstream along the rocky shoreline. These waters cast hypnotic powers upon the occasional drifting log that circles by.

Time becomes disjointed, and you cannot tell whether the log lingers for minutes or hours before it continues downriver. We call this place Buffalo Eddy, but people who were here long ago called it ilokotbatki. Basalt boulders at the river’s edge boast a rich gallery of prehistoric rock. Some petroglyphs here date from about 4500 years ago, when the pharaohs built Egypt’s oldest pyramids. Like other sites of the Nez Perce National Historical Park, this one reaches back to time immemorial.

The rocky hillsides along the Clearwater River share the same heritage. They harbor stories that grandparents told to children in the old winter villages. Upriver is the Heart of the Monster, where the Nez Perce people first emerged upon the earth. At this quiet site, you hear the river flowing in the background while a Nez Perce elder tells this creation story both in his native tongue and in English. Downriver, a magnificent rock arch shows what became of two village headmen, Ant and Yellowjacket, who lived here before age of people. These headmen refused to quiet their noisy quarrel, so Coyote turned them to stone.

The 38 sites of the Nez Perce National Historical Park stretch across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. In addition to the ancient places, the park includes sites that tell about the changes that came to the Nez Perce as Euro-Americans poured into their country.

You can visit Weippe Prairie, one of the places where Nez Perce still dig the camas lily. Here Lewis and Clark staggered out of the Bitterroot Mountains, saw some Nez Perce boys playing, and followed them into Nez Perce leader Twisted Hair’s village. At Canoe Camp the Nez Perce fed and supplied members of the Corps of Discovery and helped them build the canoes that carried them to the Pacific Ocean. Today’s travelers still stop here to walk along the river and climb into an old-style dugout canoe.

Rangers at the park’s main visitor center at Spalding offer interpretive programs and enjoy answering questions about the ancient Nez Perce people and their continuing story today.

Many of the park’s sites relate to the tragic Nez Perce War of 1877, including three major battlefields. At White Bird battlefield, a self-guided walking tour reveals how aggressive maneuvers by the U.S. Army ended in a crushing military defeat and the beginning of a war. The solemn Big Hole battlefield has new exhibits in its visitor center that interpret this bitter clash between two quite different civilizations. At Bear Paw, you can see where Chief Joseph surrendered after leading his people along a 1,170-mile fighting retreat, saying, “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

Throughout Nez Perce National Historical Park, you will encounter stories of cultural change from ancient times to the present. It’s a human story of nobility and tragedy, conflict and peace, tradition, and creativity.

Lodging and Camping
Nez Perce National Historical Park has thirty-eight sites spread over four states (Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington). The park does not operate any lodges or campgrounds. You can find information, though, on the visitor bureau websites for Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington:

North Central Idaho Travel Association
Montana
Oregon
Washington

Outdoor Activities
The park has several short hiking trails in several of the park’s larger sites. Other outdoor activities are available in neighboring towns and public lands. The links above can help you find those opportunities.

Things to Know Before You Come
Learn how to get around, what weather to expect, what to do with your pet, and what’s available in nearby communities.

Iowa DNR announced Tuesday, February 28, that they have openings for campground hosts in 20 Iowa State parks this summer. Camp hosts receive free camping at a designated campsite in return for assisting campers by explaining park rules, helping with registration, and serving as an impromptu local tour guide. Hosts will also help park staff with cleaning and light maintenance.

Iowa Campground Hosts

Iowa Campground Hosts

“We would like to get hosts placed in parks around the middle of March so they are ready to go in April,” said Linda King, with the DNR’s office of volunteer services.

Hosts are currently needed for the season at:

  • Pine Lake (124 sites)
  • Pilot Knob (60 sites)
  • Walnut Woods (22 sites)
  • Lake Keomah (65 sites)
  • Lake Manawa (72 sites)
  • Lewis and Clark (112 sites)
  • Bellevue (46 sites)
  • Backbone (125 sites)
  • Beeds Lake (144 sites)
  • Clear Lake (180 sites)
  • Ledges (95 sites)
  • Nine Eagles (68 sites)
  • Pikes Peak (77 sites)
  • Viking Lake (120 sites)
  • Yellow River State Forest (4 campgrounds)
  • Elk Rock (2 campgrounds).

If an entire season is too much, three state parks have host needs of shorter durations:

  • Lacey-Keosauqua April through June;
  • Prairie Rose from the end of June through October;
  • Volga River for July and August.

Applications are available online at http://volunteer.iowadnr.gov .  Alternatively you can call: 1-515-242-5074 to have an application mailed.

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