Experience Montana’s Dinosaur Trails
Eastern Montana shares a lot of the same geological attributes as Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Thus, many of the kinds of dinosaurs you’ll find along our dino trails are also found along Montana’s Dinosaur Trails.
Stretching from Glendive in the east to Bynum in the west, and anchored by the famous displays of the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, there are many museums to visit. Most have locally-discovered bones and are small operations, but there are notable exceptions.
Let’s start with the big kahuna. The Museum of the Rockies is located on the grounds of Montana State University. Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, it is the most visited indoor attraction in all of the state of Montana, and the place has some serious dino chops!
Its long time curator, Jack Horner, who served as the technical adviser on all of the Jurassic Park movies is considered one of the world’s leading dino authorities. “It’s a mind-blowing experience here,” says marketing manager Alicia Thompson. “It kind of starts slow, with the beginning of time… then we jump to the Jurassic period. You go through a media centre with videos of our field digs, then around the corner [are] egg clutches, which started the whole idea that dinos were nesting animals. Then you turn another corner and you’re staring a full-size T. rex in the face!”
“People just stop!” she adds. “They look up and their mouth’s drop!”
The Museum of the Rockies has the world’s largest collection of T. rex fossils, helping you understand the complete life cycle and behaviours of these meat-eating mega-predators. Tyrannosaurus rex means “tyrant lizard king,” and the Tyrant Kings exhibit presents the science and research of T. rex in a very big way. It includes the Montana specimen, which stands 12 feet tall and measures approximately 40 feet from nose to tail and would have weighed almost seven tons!
The museum has an 1890’s “living history” farm, and all this summer will feature the history of the world’s most recognized musical instrument – the guitar. It’s a great place for kids – in fact TripAdvisor ranks it the #1 thing to do in Bozeman!
Admission only costs USD $9.50 to $14.50, and is good for two consecutive days if you really want to ‘dig in’ to the exhibits. For more information visit museumoftherockies.org
Other notable stops are the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta, which offers the chance to go on dino digs all summer long. Just next door is the Phillips County Museum, where you can meet “Elvis,” a 33 ft long Brachylophosaurus fossil, one of the best articulated skeletons ever found.
Many of the smaller museums on the Montana’s Dinosaur Trail have locally discovered fossils, and many even offer free admission. Those include the dinosuar museum in Havre, which is adjacent to a native buffalo jump site, making for an amazing two-for-one experience.
Two Medicine Dinosaur Center in Bynum, like the Great Plains Museum, is close to the Canadian border, and offers public dino digs running from half-day programs up to a twoweek long Paleo Training Course.
By Allen Gibson
Museums listed left to right:
Two Medicine Dinosaur Center (Bynum)
Old Trail Museum (Choteau)
Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman)
Rudyard Depot Museum (Rudyard)
Upper Musselshell Museum (Harlowtown)
H.Earl Clack Memorial Museum (Havre)
Blaine County Museum (Chinook)
Great Plains Dinosaur Museum and Field Station (Malta)
Phillips County Museum (Malta)
Garfield County Museum (Jordan)
Fort Peck Interpretive Center and Museum (Fort Peck)
Frontier Gateway Museum (Glendive)
Makoshika State Park (Glendive)
Carter County Museum (Eklaka)