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Bad Pass Trail


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The Bad Pass Trail, sometimes known as the Sioux Trail, is a foot trail marked by a line of stone cairns that may date from many thousands of years ago. Although the date of its earliest establishment is unknown, records do establish that the Trail was much traveled by many peoples from pre-Columbian times up to the middle 1830s. For the Native Americans who lived in the Bighorn Basin it was their access to the Grapevine area where the bison herds were more plentiful. 

During the height of the fur trade, the trail leading across Bad Pass was frequented by the mountain men. On three occasions, following the rendezvous of 1824, 1825, and 1833, the beaver packs were sent to St. Louis by way of Bad Pass and the Bighorn, Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. Major Henry pioneered the route in 1824; in 1825 General Ashley packed pelts valued in the amount of $50,000 over the pass; and in 1833 three companies negotiated this route.

Bad Pass was also used by the trappers in their movements to and from the Bighorn Basin to the land of the Crow and Blackfeet. Much of the Bad Pass Trail has been obliterated, however, numerous cairns along its route still exist and may be seen in certain locations within the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.




Date Added to Register:
Wednesday, October 29, 1975
Big Horn County
Big Horn County
Smithsonian Number: