Clark's Lookout State Park
Clark's Lookout State Park is located above the Beaverhead River and is a place that provided the Lewis and Clark Expedition with a view of the route ahead. On August 13, 1805, Captain William Clark climbed this hill overlooking the Beaverhead River to get a sense of his surroundings and document the location.
It is situated on 8.2 acres of land at 5,118 feet.
Clark's Lookout State Park is located just 1 mile north of Dillon off Highway 91. Near the paved parking lot, interpretive signs explain navigational methods used by the expedition. Make the short walk to the top of the lookout and you'll discover a magnificent view of the Beaverhead Valley and a monument showing the three compass readings that Captain Clark took on that day.
Beaverhead Rock State Park
Sacagawea, a young Shoshone Indian guide traveling with the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, recognized this rock formation and knew that she may be in the vicinity of her relatives. The sighting gave the expedition hope that they may be able to find Native peoples from which to acquire horses for their trip across the mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The park is northeast of Dillon.
Meriwether Lewis, August 8, 1805 wrote:
"The Indian woman recognized the point of a high plain to our right which she informed us was not very distant from the summer retreat of her nation on a river beyond the mountains which runs to the west. This hill she says her nation calls the beaver's head from a conceived resemblance of its figure to the head of that animal. She assures us that we shall either find her people on this river or on the river immediately west of its source; which from its present size cannot be very distant."
Resembling the head of a swimming beaver, this natural landmark is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The site may be viewed and photographed from a distance, but is not directly accessible.
Madison Buffalo Jump State Park
Situated on the edge of a broad valley carved by the Madison River, south of Three Forks, this high limestone cliff was used by Native Americans for 2,000 years -- ending as recently as 200 years ago. Native people stampeded vast herds of bison off this massive semicircular cliff, using them for food, clothing, shelter and provisions.
"Runners," highly skilled young men trained for speed and endurance, wore buffalo, antelope or wolf skins to lure bison to the "pishkun" or cliff. The buffalo jump was often the key to existence for native peoples. Although the introduction of horses led to the abandonment of this jump sometime after 1700, the rugged outcropping now serves as an inspiring monument to the region's early inhabitants.
The park includes all the main geographical features of a jump site and other evidence remains to provide visitors with a glimpse into the cultures that used this hunting style. Interpretive displays help visitors understand the dramatic events that took place here for nearly 2,000 years.
Buffalo bones still lie buried at the cliff's base, and archaeologists have located the tipi rings of an extensive village. With a little imagination it is easy to visualize the drama of a buffalo drive, the thunderous roar of the stampede, the dramatic sight of the fall, and the frenzy of activity that followed.