Wise River, in the extreme northern part of the county, is located where the Wise River flows into the Big Hole. Since the Big Hole was originally named the Wisdom River, it is possible that the tributary's name was derived from it. (from Cheney's Names on the Face of Montana, Mountain Press Publishing Company)
Wise River is surrounded by a half-million acres of peaks, lakes and headwaters in the Pioneer Mountains and offers some of Montana's most breathtaking scenery. The Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway offers 40 miles of backcountry driving that bisect the Pioneer Mountains between Montana Highway 43 and Highway 278. Enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, the ghost town of Coolidge, remnants of the Elkhorn Mill and a narrow-gauge railroad that served the mill.
Nearby Crystal Park is a unique recreation area at an elevation of 7,800 feet in the Pioneer Mountains in southwest Montana. Crystal This area features public diggings for smoky, amethyst and clear quartz crystals. Snowmobiling is also popular in this area.
Wisdom was named for the Wisdom (now the Big Hole) River that flows through the town. In 1805 Lewis and Clark, at the confluence of the tributaries of the Jefferson River near the present site of Twin Bridges, decided to name the three streams for the three "cardinal virtues" of the President and benefactor, Thomas Jefferson. But Philosophy, Philanthropy, and Wisdom proved to be too much for later settlers, who changed the names to the Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Ruby. But the town kept the name Wisdom and later a nearby waterway was named the Wise River. (from Cheney's Names on the Face of Montana, Mountain Press Publishing Company)
The Big Hole Valley is often called the "Valley of 10,000 Haystacks." It's quite a sight to watch the ranchers put up hay during late July and early August. They still use the beaverslide, an early-day haying invention originating right here in Beaverhead County.
Wisdom is near the Big Hole Battlefield. The Battle of the Big Hole on August 9 and 10, 1877, was a turning point of the Nez Perce War, a five-month war in which U.S. Army forces tried to place one third of the Nez Perce tribe on a reservation. The fighting began in White Bird Canyon in Idaho and had a dramatic ending in the Bear Paw Mountains of Montana. Self-guiding tours take you to many points on the Battlefield. A short drive to the lower parking area connects with foot trails to the Nez Perce Camp, the Siege Area, and the Howitzer Capture site. The walks each take about an hour. Ranger conducted programs are offered in summer; introductory presentations and exhibits are available year-round.
Jackson is on the Big Hole River twenty miles from Idaho by snowshoe and forty-five by automobile. The area, now a famous winter sports resort, was named for Anton Jackson, who also served as the first postmaster in 1896. (from Cheney's Names on the Face of Montana, Mountain Press Publishing Company)
Jackson lies on the valley floor near the headwaters of the Big Hole River. The valley is considered by many to be the finest outdoor recreation area in the state. The town is surrounded by several mountain ranges with numerous streams and high mountain lakes. The fishing, hunting hiking, skiing, and snowmobiling are all exceptional!
Bannack State Park is also near Jackson. It is a registered historic landmark and the site of Montana's first major gold discovery on July 28, 1862. This strike set off a massive gold rush that swelled Bannack's population to over 3,000 by 1863. As the value of gold steadily dwindled, Bannack's bustling population was slowly snuffed out. There are over 50 buildings that line Main Street with their historic log and frame structures that recall Montana's formative years.