Nez Perce

2012 Tour Schedule
Attack on Pearl Harbor

Flight of the Nez Perce

August 12-23, 2012


"The most extraordinary of  Indian Wars" -- General  William T. Sherman

For thousands of years the valleys of central Idaho and eastern Oregon were the homeland of the Nez Percé.  White settlers were initially greeted in friendship, but in 1860 gold was discovered and thousands of miners were drawn to Nez Percé land.  The “Steal Treaty” of 1863 reduced Nez Percé land by 90 percent, and led to an armed clash between the Nez Percé and the US Army in the summer of 1877.


This tour is noted as much for its outstanding scenic beauty as its poignant story.   We’ll trace the circuitous flight to freedom of the Nez Percé through four states from Idaho to Montana. The Nez Percé eluded more than 2,000 soldiers over 1,100 miles before surrendering in the Bear Paw Mountains of Montana, 40 miles short of the Canadian border.  This year we are offering a new twist.  Historian Jerry Greene (author of Nez Percé:  Summer, 1877) will join us as we cross the “medicine line” into Saskatchewan to follow the story of those Nez Percé who escaped into Canada.



Sunday, August 12  

Meet in Lewiston, ID for a welcome reception and dinner. 

Overnight at the Red Lion Hotel, Lewiston, ID   (R,D)


Monday, August 13                                                                

We’ll begin the tale of the Nez Percé with visits to their ancestral home in Oregon’s Wallowa Valley and Nez Percé National Historic Park in Spalding, ID. 

Overnight at the Red Lion Hotel, Lewiston, ID   (B,L)


Tuesday, August 14                                                                                    

We’ll visit Fort Lapwai where negotiations broke down in 1877. General O.O. Howard ordered Joseph’s band to move to the reservation, sparking the conflict.  We’ll visit the sites of the initial conflicts: The Battle of White Bird and the Battle of Clearwater. 

O/N Best Western Plus Lodge at River’s Edge, Orofino, ID   (B,L,D)


Wednesday, August 15                                                                                       

We’ll stop at Weippe Prairie, ID where Lewis & Clark met the Nez Percé during the 1877 War and where the Nez Percé held council after the Battle of Clearwater to decide their next move.  We’ll follow their route over the Bitterroot Mountains through the Lolo Pass.  O/N Holiday Inn, Missoula, MT  (B,L)


Thursday, August 16                         

We’ll visit Fort Fizzle, site of a peace council and proceed to Big Hole Battlefield.  Early on August 9, 1877, Col. Gibbon’s soldiers attacked a quiet Nez Percé encampment.  The attack was repulsed, but at a great cost, making the battle at Big Hole the bloodiest single day in the Nez Percé’ four-month struggle with the U.S. Army.  

O/N Stagecoach Inn, Salmon, ID  (B,L,D)


Friday, August 17                                                             

The Nez Perce crossed the mountains at Bannock Pass into Idaho and journeyed into Montana.  Gen. Howard's forces took up the pursuit and followed Joseph towards Yellowstone.  Nez Percé raiders attempted to steal cavalry horses at an army camp in Camas Meadow. O/N West Yellowstone, MT  (B,L)


Saturday, August 18                           

We’ll follow the Nez Percé route through the Yellowstone wilderness that had been established as a National Park in 1872 by President Grant. To obtain supplies, they took several tourist parties hostage - with no intention of harming the visitors.  But as revenge for the deaths at Big Hole, warriors killed two visitors, and left a third for dead.  We’ll cross the spectacular Absaroka Range at Dead Indian Pass.

O/N Crowne Plaza, Billings, MT  (B,L)


Sunday, August 19                                                          

The Nez Percé had long hoped they might find refuge with their old allies the Crows, but it was evident by this time that the Crows had sided with the government. The only option now was for the Nez Percé to try to join Sitting Bull in Canada.  At Canyon Creek, near Billings, they engaged in another battle with the Army and then continued their flight toward Canada.   O/N Great Northern Inn, Havre, MT  (B,L,D)


Monday, August 20  

Today we’ll walk the Bear Paw Battlefield. Following a fierce attack, the U.S. Army laid siege to the Nez Percé camp until most of Chief Joseph’s band surrendered, 40 miles short of the Canadian border. We’ll proceed to Alberta to learn about Chief White Bird and the 150-200 Nez Percé who managed to escape into Canada. Tonight we’ll offer an optional nighttime wildlife game safari into Cypress Hills Provincial Park.

O/N Elkwater Resort, Cypress Hills, Alberta Canada (B,L,D)


Tuesday, August 21

Today we’ll drive into Saskatchewan to tour Fort Walsh on the eastern edge of the Cypress Hills.  Both Sitting Bull and the Lakota Sioux in 1876 and the Nez Percé in 1877 sought refuge in the Wood Mountains nearby.  Fort Walsh was established as the NW Mounted Police Headquarters in 1878 to negotiate with the U.S. Indians. This afternoon, we’ll drive across the prairie to tour Fort MacLeod. It was established to crush Fort Whoop-Up, a notorious whiskey trading post, run by Americans on Canadian soil, located near what is now Lethbridge.    O/N Lethbridge, Alberta (B,L,D)


Wednesday, August 22

We will spend the morning at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, one of the oldest and best-preserved buffalo jumps in the world. Our native guides, descendants of the Canadian Nez Percé, will give us a tour of the museum and cliff top trail of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Following a drum and dance performance, we’ll drive to Great Falls, MT. O/N Hilton Garden Inn, Great Falls, MT (B,L,D)


Thursday, August 23

Individual departures. (B)


If a 12-day tour is too long, you may do 9 days (August 15-23) of the trip. Fly to Missoula and meet the group at our hotel the evening of August 15. Call us for details and price.

EXPERT GUIDE:  Ed Bearss is scheduled to lead this tour.

Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, Edwin C. Bearss is an author, lecturer and America's foremost battlefield guide.  Ed's encyclopedic knowledge and unflagging energy is legendary; Ed brings history alive like no other.  Two of his recent best sellers are Fields of Honor and Receding Tide:  Vicksburg and Gettysburg – The Campaigns that Changed the Civil War.

GUEST HISTORIAN GUIDE:  Jerome A. Greene will join us for a portion of the tour from Billings to Great Falls (Aug 19-23).

An author from Denver, Jerry is a retired Research Historian for the National Park Service.  He has written over 20 books including: Nez Perce Summer, 1877 and Beyond Bear's Paw: The Nez Perce Indians in Canada.

NOTE REGARDING AIRLINE RESERVATIONS: This tour begins in Lewiston, ID and ends in Great Falls, MT.  When booking your airline reservations do not attempt to book two, one-way tickets.  Select "multi-city" or multi-destination" on your airline's website. Call us if you have questions.


* Services of an Historian Guide

* Services of Guest Historian, Jerry Greene Aug 19-23

* Services of a Tour Manager

* 11 nights hotel accommodations

* one wine/beer welcome reception; 11 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 7 dinners

* all taxes, baggage handling and gratuities; pre-trip notes, reading list and map book

COST: 12 DAYS/11 NIGHTS (price is based on a minimum of 25 participants):

Double Occupancy:  $3,625 per person

Single Occupancy:  $4,095

To enroll on this tour, print & complete the attached registration form and mail it with a $200 per person deposit check to: South Mountain Expeditions, P.O. Box 204, Keedysville, MD, 21756. Or call us at (301) 988-1852 or toll free at 1 (866) 914-1862. We accept VISA, Mastercard and American Express.