The Dug Bar site is in Hell's Canyon National Recreation Area and on the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail. The site is accessible via a poorly maintained single lane dirt road 25 miles long or by the Snake River. This is the traditional crossing site where the Chief Joseph band forded immediately before the 1877 Nez Perce War. Although they did not know it at the time, this treacherous crossing was the band's final farewell to their homeland.

The flat bench above the river contains historical ranching structures dating from the early 20th century.

A primitive airstrip, hayfields, a boat ramp, primitive campsites, and a cluster of ranch buildings are prominent features in the immediate Dug Bar landscape. In summer an abundance of jetboat traffic passes the site.

The winding 25-mile drive into Dug Bar follows the Imnaha River, the traditional route between summer camps in the Wallowa and winter camps along the Imnaha and Snake Rivers. The 5-mile hiking and horse trail offers an opportunity to experience the landscape as the Nez Perce did. Visitors coming to the site by boat also see many riparian areas that were used by the Nez Perce.

The Joseph band crossed the Snake River here at the end of May. Today there are dams to control the spring flooding caused by rains and snowmelt. In 1877, there was probably a lot of water in the river at the end of May.

We gathered all the stock we could find, and made an attempt to move. We left many of our horses and cattle in Wallowa, and we lost several hundred in crossing the river. All my people succeeded in getting across in safety.

Chief Joseph



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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