The Historic Chief Joseph Trail Ride

A sea of spots! The Chief Joseph Trail ride, sponsored by the Appaloosa Horse Club, is open only to registered Appaloosas and covers about 100 miles of the historic trail.

Where: Grangeville, Idaho

What: ApHC Chief Joseph Trail Ride

When: July

History Relived

Each year, the Chief Joseph Trail Ride retraces a different 100 miles or so of the 1877 “flight to freedom” of the Nez Perce Indians. This year’s ride winds through Idaho’s White Bird Battlefield southwest of Grangeville. White Bird was the opening battle of the war between the Nez Perce and the United States Army; the struggle ended more than 1,500 miles later with Chief Joseph’s surrender in Montana’s Bear Paw Mountains.   

"Photo of Chief Joseph, a Native American leader, leading a horseback ride through the rugged terrain. The group of riders are surrounded by lush greenery and towering mountains, symbolizing their resilience and determination. They are honoring the legacy of Chief Joseph and his people's struggle for freedom and justice."
Photo by Kristen Reiter

The Facts: 13 | Number of yearly rides it takes to complete the full, 1,170-mile Nez Perce National Historic Trail.

The Chief Joseph Trail Ride, an annual tradition steeped in history and camaraderie. A group of riders on horseback navigate through vast landscapes, honoring the journey of Chief Joseph and his people. The sun's warm glow illuminates the riders, as they forge ahead on their horses. This photo captures the essence of this sacred ride, a true tribute to the past and present.
Photo Kristen Reiter

Sponsored by the Appaloosa Horse Club, this historic ride is open only to registered Appaloosas (whose name stems from the Palouse River running through the heart of Nez Perce country, where the resident Indians—actually Nimíipuu or “Nee-Me-Poo”—selectively bred their colorful horses).

Non-riders can visit the campsite on Sunday before the ride, or see the group off on Monday morning. Pre-ride activities include the blessing of the ride and a dinner dance with live DJ.

[MORE TRAVEL DESTINATIONS: Celebrate the Horse | Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity | A Winter Wonderland

Don’t Miss This

explore.

Learn about the Nez Perce Indians at the 1. Historical Museum at St. Gertrude in nearby Cottonwood, or check out Grangeville’s very own amazing 2. Columbian Mammoth Exhibit.

eat.

Grab great coffee and snacks at the 3. Crema Café in Grangeville. For homecooked fare, try 4. The Backroads Diner in Kooskia. Find craft beer and the famous Waffle Iron Chicken Sandwich at Kamiah’s 5. Clearwater Brewing Co., where Fridays are open-mic night for comedy, poetry, and story-telling.

do.

Watch a parade and join the street games and dancing at 6. Kooskia Days, July 27–28. For horseback riding, boat tours, and more, try 7. Whitebird Summit Lodge & Ranch right in Grangeville.

‘Elegant, Active, Durable’

Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame described the Nez Perce horses in a journal entry in February of 1806: “[They] appear to be of an excellent race…lofty, elegantly formed, active, and durable…. marked with large spots of white irregularly scattered and intermixed with the black, brown, bay, or some other darker color.”

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