Bear Gulch Pictographs
Bear Gulch is a well-preserved Plains Indian rock art site that displays more than 4,000 pictographs and petroglyphs that date back as early as 1000 CE. The drawings depict different scenes from everyday life, including warriors with shields, birthing rituals, and spirit animals.
Previously an unknown gem tucked in the backyard of a local family, this site was evaluated by teams of archeologists in 2005 and 2007 and the significance of the collection was realized. Interestingly, the archeologists found that unlike other American Indian rock art, Bear Gulch has no depictions of war, and although there were ancient fire pits with stone tools, there were no arrowheads found at the site.
Scattered among the ancient art are signatures of early American pioneers that were traveling west on the wagon trail that once traveled along the gulch from as far back as the 1800s. The merging of ancient art with modern-day pioneers makes for an interesting walk through history.
Tours are hosted by the family that owns the property. The tours are available Wednesday-Sunday and last about two hours. Although the hike is simple and slow, hats, sunscreen, and hydration are recommended as there is little shade on the tour.
Bear Gulch is located about 45 minutes outside of Lewistown. Reservations required. Tours may be cancelled due to weather. Completing the release form prior to arriving is appreciated. Wheelchair access to the base of the gulch is possible, but access to the art in a wheelchair is unavailable at this time.