May 28, 2012

The Nez Perce Have Always Been Here

We took advantage of our waterfront campsite this morning when the sun came out again, and Kitty made good use of the bike path that extends along the river.  We left the state of Washington behind today and crossed into Idaho.  We really enjoyed our stay in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s definitely on our list of places to return to.

Another Beautiful View
Kitty and Tim Walking Along the River
Our first stop in Idaho was the Nez Perce National Historical Park.  This is not your typical national park.  The park consists of thirty-eight sites scattered throughout four states.  It is a park about a people for all people.  The park tells the story of the Nez Perce, their history and culture and their interactions with others.  It is a noble story, but also a sad one that culminated in the Nez Perce War of 1877.

Nez Perce National Historical Park
The park contains a wonderful museum with amazing art and artifacts, including the oldest known Nez Perce objects in existence.  After leaving the visitor center we passed several sites on the Nez Perce Trail, including the Camus Prairie, which was once covered with camas lilies, a major food source for the Nez Perce.  Although we saw no trace of camas there, we did spy several fields of this pretty blue flower elsewhere.

Camus Prairie
Camus Lilies in Bloom
We traveled south through beautiful countryside and climbed in elevation.  Wheat fields covered much of the land, and I enjoyed that beautiful green color for much of the day.  I think wheat might be my favorite spring crop.  Fields of yellow mustard were also quite a sight.

Beautiful Countryside
Fields of Mustard
Unusual Roadside Attractions - The Dog Is a Bed and Breakfast!
We descended the White Bird Grade, an incredibly steep mountain road, and were amazed to see the old road which was even steeper with dozens of switchbacks.  That road was an engineering feat when it was constructed in 1915 and served as Idaho’s north-south highway until the current road was completed in 1975.  I love mountain roads, but I was glad we were driving the new road.

An overlook on the White Bird Grade provided an expansive view of White Bird Battlefield.  On June 17, 1877, the first battle of the Nez Perce War was fought here.  Although the battle was a victory for the Nez Perce, it was the start of a five-month journey in an effort to elude the U.S. Army.  The hopes of the Nez Perce to find sanctuary in Canada fell short when the army defeated them at Bear Paw in Montana.  Chief Joseph surrendered and was sent into exile.

White Bird Battlefield
Looking Down at White Bird


  1. Just looked at a map of the Old White Bird Grade. Yowza! I'm not sure your taxi could have made those turns! The Nez Pierce story is a sad one. The trail makes it look like they were hounded. LV

    1. LV, I'm glad we didn't have to try and make the turns in the RV. The steep grades on the new road were challenging enough. The story of the Nez Perce is a sad one, and they were hounded. They were just 40 miles from making it to Canada. So close. Sarah

    2. The field of mustard are gorgorus. at aq great camp site you had. Love it. Love A

    3. A, I loved the mustard fields. They were quite impressive and very striking next to the wheat fields. We've been very lucky with some of our campsites lately. I just love a pretty view! Sarah