Some people took advantage of Friday's nice (but windy) weather to go on a "first day" hike. The annual New Year’s Day event takes place at state parks across the nation, including First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park just west of Great Falls.
"Just hang out with my brother and sister-in-law and just get the dog out for some exercise,” hiker Mikel Potter said when asked why he was hiking. Potter, visiting the park for the first time, said, "It's always neat to go and experience new stuff and see what different states have to offer."
This year, there was no guided hike with a park ranger. "We're limited, because of COVID, to 10 people per hike,” said park ranger Alice Southworth.
Southworth said about 70 people came out to hike on New Year's Day last year.
"I think people need to be out on the trails, so I didn't want to limit it this year,” said Southworth.
People had three hours to get some exercise and knowledge on their own. The park was only open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
"Most guided hikes, depending on what emphasis it is, is about how jumps were used and the native people and how they used the land and how important it is to them,” Southworth said.
First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park and National Historic Landmark is an archaeological site with possibly the largest bison cliff jump in North America. Native peoples used this site for at least a thousand years before Lewis and Clark passed through here. The bison jump site consists of a mile long sandstone cliff; there are remnants of drive lines on top of the cliff and there are up to 18 ft. of compacted buffalo remains below the cliff. The park has an interpretive trail, picnic tables and a black-tailed prairie dog town to help the visitor better understand the epic history of hunting on the high plains.