Providing a hands-on understanding of the region’s natural and cultural history, the Nez Perce National Historical Park at Spalding, east of Lewiston, offers indoor and outdoor exhibits and activities year-round.
Throughout the year, the park film, Nez Perce - Portrait of a People, is shown. It provides an introduction to the Nez Perce story and is also available for purchase. Museum exhibits feature an outstanding collection of clothing, tools, weapons, and ceremonial objects. The Northwest Interpretive Association has a sales outlet where you can purchase items about the Nez Perce and the National Park Service.
Generally, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the park staff provides special walks and talks that include museum tours and tipi pitching demonstrations.
Among the outdoor activities at the center is the Lapwai Creek Trail (.2 mile). For centuries, Lapwai Creek has flowed into the Clearwater River here at the Spalding site. As you hike along the creek, you will be walking on ancient stream deposits that not only support plants and animals, but have sustained the Nez Perce culture for generations.
In the spring and fall you have a chance to see salmon in Lapwai Creek. Check with park rangers to see when the runs are likely to occur. Two important Nez Perce Tribe food plants found along the trail are serviceberry and chokecherry. Serviceberries were the most important fruit for the Nez Perce and were especially important, stored and used in the winter. Chokecherries are commonly found along streams, and were eaten fresh as well as dried and stored for winter use.
Other trails in the Spalding system:
The Old Townsite Trail (1 mile): views along the Clearwater River, takes visitors to the former Nez Perce Indian agency and homesteading, which was here from 1860 to 1904. Remnants of several buildings are among the fruit trees and lilac bushes.
Picnic Area Trail (.4 mile): Four generations of Nez Perce used this area; the location of a former village site and the Rev. Henry Spalding mission.
Watson’s Trail (.1 mile): The trail is actually an old raceway – a man-made ditch that carried water to the mills. The short trail leads to Watson’s store, a historic building. During certain times of the year, native flowers such as lomatiums and stonecrops can be seen.
Boomgrounds Trail (.2 mile): views of the Clearwater River. Boomground is a logging term that refers to where wood is collected; here, trees and logs were washed downstream and deposited on the beach by spring floods.