We are very lucky to have so many awesome places to explore relatively close to where we live in Montana. One of my favorite spots near our home is Madison Buffalo Jump State Park. The reason I love it so much, besides the stunning 360-degree views it provides, is because NO ONE IS EVER THERE! For some reason this spot often seems forgotten, even by the locals. Given my somewhat anti-social tendencies (according to John), it’s become one of our go-to day-hike destinations.
Madison Buffalo Jump: History
The massive limestone cliff which is the focal point of this park was used as a buffalo run by Native Americans for over 2,000 years. In early times, Natives wore animal skins and lured bison to the edge of the cliff. Then, on horseback, the Native Americans chased the bison off the cliff to their death. This was an essential part of survival. Nothing went to waste; they used bison for food, clothing, and shelter. Several tribes used this jump including the Shoshone, Nez Perce, Cheyenne, Blackfeet, and Crow, among others.
Madison Buffalo Jump: Exploring
If you climb the short, but steep, trail to the top of the plateau, you can’t help but imagine what it must have been like hundreds of years ago when bison roamed freely. Once you are on top of the cliff you have a great vantage point for bird watching and wildlife viewing. There is also a trail that leads you across the rim of the plateau providing stunning views almost the entire time.
Madison Buffalo Jump is a great place for hiking, jogging, horseback riding, or just enjoying a picnic on the plateau. When you make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful panoramic views of the Madison valley. It is also the perfect place to enjoy a sunset with the Madison range as a backdrop.
If you make it out to southwest Montana and are looking for something to do outside of Yellowstone National Park, add this state park to your list. You will not be disappointed by all the beauty and wide-open spaces Mother Nature has to offer. Unless you hate the outdoors, which sounds like a “you” problem.
Madison Buffalo Jump: Directions
From Bozeman, Montana, take I-90 W 23.3 miles to exit 283 (Logan/Trident). Turn left off of the interstate and drive 4.1 miles on Buffalo Jump Road. Then, turn left to stay on Buffalo Jump Road for an additional 2.6 miles. There will be signs marking the park at every turn and the park will be on the left.