Situated on the edge of a broad valley carved by the Madison River, 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.
Curious what other visitors have to say about the park?
"Cool historic site! Surprisingly this place was chillingly peaceful."
"A good hike, short and sweet. Nice interpretive signage at the end of the .5 mile hike. It's a good place to go to get out of the city for a while!"
"This place is worth the trip a little ways off of the main hiways. The Madison Buffalo Jump has a true unique historic feel to it. You really get the sense with all the info plaques etc. that you can imagine the buffalo careering off the edge. You get a real idea of what the indigenous people went through to survive. I would definitely recommend hiking up to the top either by attacking it straight on, or the easier route around the side."
"Worth the extra drive to get to the trailhead. There is a short mile and a half return hike to the interpretive kiosk and back. Very easy walking and the interpretive displays are very well done. The longer walk will take you to the top of the buffalo jump itself. Some steep climbs involved. It is not half as dangerous at the top as it sounds. The view across to the Madison River is exceptional."
"Wasn't wearing proper hiking attire to hike up the hill, but enjoyed the peaceful songs of the Meadowlarks."
Open all year
6990 Buffalo Jump Road
Three Forks, MT 59752