Wolf Point is one of Montana’s lesser-known towns, located in the northeastern regions of the state.
It is mainly centered in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, and the community is well-known for playing host to the oldest rodeo in the state–and it’s probably true to say that the majority of visitors to the town come for the rodeo.
The population of Wolf Point today is less than 3,000-strong, and documentation of the area first began in 1805 when the Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through.
Once the fur trade had caught fire in eastern Montana, various trading posts began to establish themselves along the Missouri River and the Yellowstone River—which could have been the way that Wolf Point sprang up—although the exact history behind the location is somewhat sketchy.
The journals of various explorers and military men of the time do make references to Wolf Point from around the mid-1800s onwards.
The first non-Indian settlement was reportedly around 1875, when an Indian agent named William W. Alderson brought laborers and a sawmill to Wolf Point, setting up something of a sub-agency for the Assiniboine people.
The origin of the name “Wolf Point” has also been difficult to verify, with various claims and reports indicating that Wolf Point was named for Wolf Creek, which emptied into the nearby vicinity of the Missouri River.
Another story suggests the name came from the winter in which the wolf-hunters killed so many wolves that the carcasses froze before the skins could be removed and had to be piled up until spring.
Another theory suggests the name to be something to do with the way the shape of the land appears to be shaped like a wolf to anyone sailing in. Who knows for sure—but there is certainly some history connected to the area.
Main Cultural, Historic, and Outdoor Attractions in Wolf Point
The Wolf Point Museum was formerly located in the basement of the Roosevelt County Library before relocating to bigger and better premises on Highway #2.
It features various exhibits and displays of antique artifacts that would have belonged to the original settlers. Aboriginal culture is also highlighted and showcased, and there is even a life-size statue of famous cowboy artist Charles M. Russell which is the handiwork of a local High School Art Instructor.
Other items include a cash register from the early 1900s, antique printing presses and pendulum clocks, furniture, an arrowhead collection, and paintings done by local artists like Tenny DeWitt, Magnhild Holum, and Marlene Toves.
Hours of operation under normal conditions are 10 am – 5 pm, Monday thru Friday, during the months of June through August.
In February 1926, two locals perished after taking a shortcut across the ice to get home after a basketball game. With no ferry service during the winter, many travelers crossed the Missouri River on the ice, and this vent was the worst thing that had happened in a while amid ongoing safety concerns.
After this unfortunate incident, it became more apparent than ever that a bridge across the Missouri River was needed to provide year-round, safe travel. The Highway Commission resolved to support a bridge at Wolf Point along with a road continuing south to Circle.
The new Missouri River Bridge was completed and open July 9, 1930. Many northeast Montana communities, as well as state dignitaries, were invited to attend the opening event.
Due to a variety of safety & monetary issues, the bridge eventually ended up in a state close to demolition, with eventual plans being drawn up for a new bridge across the Missouri River.
The Montana Department of Transportation decided to offer the historic bridge to the Historical Society instead of going the demolition route.
The society had previously been behind campaigns to preserve the bridge for historic purposes, and in 1998 the Montana Historical Society accepted ownership of the Wolf Point Bridge in order to support its attempts at interpreting the history of Montana.
Various important historical events from the area are interpreted by the society including the history of the indigenous people, Lewis and Clark Expeditions, early settlements, and the use of the Missouri River coupled with crossing it.
Pedestrian use of the bridge is common for recreation purposes and various events and celebrations are often focused around this historical aspect of the town.
The Fort Peck Indian Reservation covers the hills and prairie regions of north-eastern Montana’s stretch of the Missouri River Country.
Millions of bison at one time made their way across what are now historic trails in this region. This is Montana’s second-largest reservation and the home of both the Assiniboine and Sioux nations.
Traditional annual powwows permeate the summer months when a plethora of tribal dance styles and ancient ancestral customs are celebrated, as is their close connection to the land. The Indian gatherings feature dancing, drumming, traditional foods, and story-telling activities, and the Fort Peck Indian Reservation is home to many
interesting cultural, artistic, and historic artifacts and places, and this includes tipi rings, buffalo jumps, and sacred sites.
Besides fishing, Fort Peck Lake offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, birdwatching, and other recreational activities.
The Milk River Observation Point is found on one of the highest points of the north-eastern Montana region. This is a popular point for hikers looking for a challenging trail like the one that gets you here.
This hiking trail leads to a spot with some impressive views of the confluence of the Missouri River and Milk River—not to mention the Milk Coulee Bay, the Fort Peck Lake, and the nearby town of Fort Peck.
The trail can be reached from downtown Wolf Point in a little less than an hour’s drive, heading west along route Highway #2. Although this trail is not that long, it features a continuously changing terrain and is typically rated as moderate to challenging.
Originally it was developed for the purpose of enhancing navigation along the river and serving as the water source for the nearby urban areas.
As the fifth-largest man-made in the country, it has also become a popular tourist attraction not least of all for its ample fishing opportunities.
The northern shores of the lake are the best spots to pick out the designated fishing areas. You can get to these areas in about a 45-minute drive from downtown Wolf Point on Highway #2.
Some of the most popular fish species that people come here for include lake trout, chinook salmon, walleye, northern pike, and small bass.
Medicine Lake can be reached in just over an hour’s drive along routes Highway #2 and MT-16, and it covers a somewhat smaller surface area at just under 9,000 acres.
This area is another popular recreation and fishing destination for locals and visitors alike, and anyone fishing here can expect to find northern pike, brook trout, and rainbow trout. The lake is in an area with plenty of opportunities for other outdoor activities like bird or other wildlife watching.
If you simply want to test your fishing skills then you’ll love it, but it is a great day trip destination anyway.
Hell Creek State Park is a popular destination for water sports as well as fishing, and the public recreation area covers around 300 acres along the Missouri River’s southern banks.
Fishermen can expect to find walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass, in the waters here, and you can drive here from downtown Wolf Point in around two and a half hours along routes MT-13 and MT-200.
- Homestead RV Site has pull-thru and tent sites along with toilets, electricity, and showers.
- The Haxby Harbor Park is just down the road in Jordan on Haxby Road.
- The Fort Peck Downstream Campground is another of the most popular within the region, and it is located just below the dam.
Accommodation–Hotels and Lodging
There really isn’t too much along the lines of hotel accommodation in Wolf Point aside from the local institution the Homestead.
If you really need a hotel or lodging you’ll be better served in some of the larger towns closest to Wolf Point.
Special Events in Wolf Point
- July—Wild Horse Stampede–the “granddaddy” of Montana rodeo since 1915, and the state’s oldest rodeo
- August—The Wadopana Celebration—an annual event held in Wolf Point on the first weekend of August