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Madison Buffalo Jump State Park

Big Sky + Gallatin River Valley, Montana

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Madison Buffalo Jump State Park

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  • Informational board with the park's main limestone cliff in the background.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
  • Informational Plaza - find information about indigenous hunters here.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
  • This 1-mile trail will take you to the top of the limestone cliff.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
  • Rapid elevation gain en route to the cliff.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
  • Looking out over the landscape shaped by the nearby Madison River.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
  • If you look carefully, there's a preserved teepee ring.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
  • Wide open view of the Madison River Valley.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
  • Many bison met their untimely end by falling off these steep cliffs.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
  • A trail winds along the edge of the cliff.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
  • Forested canyon tucked between neighboring cliffs.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
  • Limestone outcropping.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
  • Colorful sunburst lichens on limestone.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
  • The infamous bison sign.- Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great history. Beautiful views. Less visited.
Cons: 
Few trails.
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Region:
Big Sky + Gallatin River Valley, MT
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Enormous herds of bison once roamed the Great Plains. These magnificent creatures were essential to native people’s way of life. They provided food, shelter, and clothing for the Crow, Shoshone, Bannock, Salish, and Blackfeet nations. Madison Buffalo Jump State Park provided the perfect geological setting along the bison’s seasonal route for indigenous hunters to take advantage of this precious animal resource.

Many tribal nations would converge here in the late summer and fall to utilize the sheer limestone cliffs for hunting. “Runners” were trained to run the bison down drive lanes toward the steep cliffs. Massive bison would topple from the cliff, falling thunderously into large brown heaps at the bottom. Injured and panicked bison would be killed with spears by careful but skilled hunters. Weapons were essential in this latter portion of the hunt, and artifacts can still be found (but not removed!) around the park. Women would begin the gruesome, vital work of breaking down the animal with minimal waste.

The park has few trails but leaves a powerful historical presence. An interpretive plaza provides ample background for the site and points you to places most commonly used during the time of the jumps. Find multiple teepee rings at the top of the cliffs, a physical reminder of the many generations of native peoples who came and camped here for the jump.

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Field Guide

Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(14 within a 30 mile radius)

Adventure Community

Adventure Community

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