Historic Bozeman Trail

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Bozeman Trail

From prehistoric times to modern day, footsteps along the Bozeman Trail have led individuals north south through the Gallatin Valley of Montana.

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  • Interstate 90 from Sheridan, Wyoming to Three Forks, Montana (30 miles west of Bozeman, Montana) and U.S. Route 287 from Three Forks to Virginia City, Montana cover roughly the same general route as the historic Bozeman Trail.
  • Along the route are various museums, interpretive centers, and historic sites.

Overview
What we call the Bozeman Trail today is a historic transportation corridor with uses dating back to animal migratory routes and Paleo-Indian trails. This corridor was used by historic Indian tribes, trappers and traders, exploration expeditions, American emigrants, the military, and settlers. Today it is the major transportation corridor in this area.

The Bozeman Trail corridor is still a major north-south travel route, with an Interstate highway replacing the wagon and horseback trails. There are markers and historical interpretive signs at many locations along the historic trail routes. In its wildness and beauty, the land will forever be rich in its history, holding time still with the struggles and hardships in the gold rush era.

Location/Directions
Many of our major highways and county roads follow the old trail, that ancient trail, from prehistoric times to the present day. Today, a modern highway route consisting of Interstate 25 runs from Douglas, Wyoming to Sheridan, Wyoming. Interstate 90 from Sheridan, Wyoming to Three Forks, Montana (30 miles west of Bozeman, Montana) and U.S. Route 287 from Three Forks to Virginia City, Montana cover roughly the same general route as the historic Bozeman Trail.

Seasons
The Bozeman Trail is accessible year round. There is no fee to travel along the highways and byways that now follow this historic route. However, if you plan to stop at any of the historic sites and/or museums, there may be an admissions fee charged.

Activities
Museums and interpretive centers
along the Bozeman Trail in the State of Montana include

  • Big Horn National Recreation Area at Yellowtail Dam near Hardin
  • Little Bighorn Battlefield near Crow Agency
  • Big Horn County Museum at Hardin
  • Fort C.F. Smith (on private land, not developed)
  • Chief Plenty Coups State Park, Museum & Historic Home, near Pryor
  • Western Heritage Center at Billings
  • Pictograph Caves State Park near Billings
  • Cooney Reservoir State Park near Boyd
  • Museum of the Bear Tooths at Columbus
  • Clark's Fork Museum at Fromberg
  • Crazy Mountains Museum at Big Timber
  • Park County Museum at Livingston
  • Pioneer Museum at Bozeman
  • Museum of the Rockies at Bozeman
  • American Computer Museum at Bozeman
  • Headwaters Heritage Museum at Three Forks
  • Missouri Headwaters State Park near Three Forks
  • Madison County, and Thompson Hickman Museums at Virginia City
  • Historic Towns of Ennis, Virginia City and Nevada City
  • Bannack State Park (historic gold mining ghost town)

Historic Sites in the same area include

  • Indian Encampment on the Tongue River, 1866
  • Rosebud Battlesite
  • Fort C. F. Smith and the Hayfield Fight Site
  • Little Bighorn Battlesite near Crow Agency
  • Pictograph Caves near Billings
  • Chief Plenty Coup Museum and Historic Home, near Pryor
  • Nelson Story's Cow Camp and Ranch Operations
  • Absarokee Crow Agency #2, near Absarokee
  • Crow Agency #1, near Livingston
  • Benson Landing, near Livingston
  • Fort Ellis, near Bozeman
  • Virginia City and Nevada City
  • Bannack
  • Last Chance Gulch, at Helena

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