Rosebud Battlefield State Park
~Montana State Parks
This National Historic Landmark on the rolling prairie of eastern Montana preserves the site of the June 17, 1876 battle that was a harbinger to the Battle of Little Bighorn.
The Battle of the Rosebud, known to the Northern Cheyenne as “Where the Girl Saved Her Brother”, took place during the Campaign of 1876. Brigadier General George Crook, along with his Crow and Shoshone scouts, had come north from Wyoming with approximately 1000 troops looking for the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne villages of Chief Sitting Bull. On the morning of June 17, 1876, near the headwaters of Rosebud Creek, Crook was unprepared for the organized attack of an equal or even greater number of warriors lead by Sioux Chief Crazy Horse and Cheyenne Chiefs Two Moon, Young Two Moon and Spotted Wolf. The presence of thousands of warriors and soldiers on the rolling hills of Southeastern Montana made the eight-hour engagement one of the largest battles of the Indian wars. This battle was also exceptionally significant because the Native Americans fought as an army with great intensity to defend their traditional land. Crook was stopped in his advance and the Native Americans were emboldened by the success.
Eight days later, because Crook's troops were withdrawn from the war zone to resupply, they were not available to support Colonel Custer and his troops at Little Bighorn. The Lakota and Northern Cheyenne warriors overtook Colonel George Custer and his 263 soldiers at Little Bighorn. This defeat shocked the nation celebrating its Centennial and ultimately led to a counter attack and to the Lakota's loss of the Black Hills.
Remote, quiet and undeveloped, the 3052 acre state park was made a National Historic Landmark in 2008 commemorating the Battle of the Rosebud, “Where the Girl Saved Her Brother.” The site remains much the same as it was during the time of the battle in the 1870’s, though the park does not cover the entire battle grounds.
Also within the park boundaries, the land has a full and long history going back before the battle as well as afterwards. For generations before, many peoples used the Rosebud Valley for hunting and gathering, including a cliff site used as a “buffalo jump” still marked with petroglyphs. These can be observed with a short hike in the gap to the cliffs.
In the years after the battle, this area was opened to homesteading and Rosebud Creek went through an era of ranching families grazing and plowing much of the land. In 1978, the State of Montana acquired the property to set aside for a state park.
Rosebud Battlefield is a wonderful place of solitude to reflect on America’s history, take a picnic, enjoy a hike and look for wildlife. Bring your camera, hiking boots and plenty of time to appreciate the history and the sacredness of this place. Mowed paths for walking are maintained to the Kobold Buffalo Jump and up to the top of Crook’s Hill, but feel free to explore across the grassy hills of the entire park. See the beautiful view from Crook’s Hill, then wander over to Conical Hill to get the Native American perspective. Trek up to Van Vliets Ridge and image the cavalry charge down the slopes.
Please be aware there are restrictions on the use of metal detectors, digging, collecting or removal of artifacts, and bikes are allowed on existing roadway only. The leash law for pets is in effect from 4/1 until the opening day of upland game bird season. From April 1st to September 1st, no discharge of firearms is allowed. Visitors must watch for rattlesnakes in this area. The area is undeveloped and is adjacent to the Crow Indian Reservation. To reach the park, one must drive through private property—please respect the privacy and property of others. Contact the park office at Tongue River Reservoir State Park regarding hunting regulations and other questions.
The Park is 3052 acres at an elevation is 4,300 feet.
Camping and other recreational activities are available at nearby Tongue River Reservoir State Park 13 miles south. For other nearby historical opportunities and amenities, Sheridan, Wyoming is 40 miles south and Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument is 48 miles to the northeast.