Visit Montana Tour Highlights State as Dinosaur Country
Visit Montana has developed Montana Dinosaur Trail for visitors and travelers to Montana’s spectacular unspoiled nature, vibrant and charming small towns, breathtaking experiences and relaxing hospitality.
Dinosaurs have been a staple of American culture since the dawn of time, but a lesser-known American staple is Montana’s big imprint on Dinosaur discovery and today, the many ways for visitors to get their hands dirty uncovering a piece of the past for themselves. Plan your ultimate dino vacation on the Montana Dinosaur Trail, an extraordinary journey through time, where visitors witness the wonders of prehistoric life.
Winding its way through the state, the Montana Dinosaur Trail takes travelers back in time with 14 locations to learn about Montana’s prehistoric residents. While the trail starts along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front and ends in Southeast Montana, dinosaur enthusiasts can explore the sites in any preferred order. As a bonus, many of the stops on the trail are home to fossils and artifacts that were unearthed locally, in Montana. The trail’s Prehistoric Passport makes it easy to visit them all—just like the dinosaurs did.
A day at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman is a must during a Montana adventure. It’s one of the world’s finest research and history museums, as well as a Smithsonian affiliate. Ideal for multi-generational visitors, the museum is home to an impressive fossil collection, permanent exhibits and planetarium shows, as well as a chance to view two of Big Sky Country’s most famous dinosaurs: Big Mike the T. rex and Big Al, a nearly complete Allosaurus.
Big Mike is one of the most complete T. rex skeletons in the world. While the original bones are on loan to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, a 15-foot bronze cast stands watch over the museum, greeting you upon arrival. A local family discovered the fossil in eastern Montana in 1988, catching the attention of a Hollywood film team who used the excavation to help produce Jurassic Park.
A four-hour drive north from Bozeman, through limestone bluffs carved by the Missouri River and sweeping valleys of farmland, leads to an area known as the Rocky Mountain Front. Nestled here in the shadow of towering mountain peaks are the small communities of Bynum and Choteau, both of which are prime destinations on the Montana Dinosaur Trail.
With a population of 31, Bynum is a small town—even by Montana standards—with a big dinosaur scene. The Montana Dinosaur Center is home to impressive fossils, including remains of a recently discovered dinosaur species, but what truly sets this museum apart is its dig program. Varying from half-day to five-day dig programs, attendees work alongside paleontologists to unearth a piece of Montana’s rich dinosaur history for themselves. This unique program runs from May through September. Booking for a summer dig is available online here.
This area is also home to Egg Mountain, which became an important site in Montana’s dinosaur history after a Bynum local, Marion Brandvold, found the remains of juvenile dinosaurs. After showing her discovery to Jack Horner, a well-known paleontologist, Horner and his team unearthed 14 dinosaur nests. The original dinosaur fossils found by Brandvold can be seen on display at the Old Trail Museum in Choteau.
Continue along the trail through central Montana for more locally discovered prehistoric treasures. The Upper Musselshell Museum in Harlowton features “Ava,” an Avaceratops skeleton that was the first of its kind, as well as American Indian artifacts from ancient bison kill sites. The Depot Museum in Rudyard is home to the “Oldest Sorehead,” a fully jointed fossil of a Gryposaurus found nearby. Chinook’s Blaine County Museum houses numerous prehistoric discoveries unearthed in the Judith River Formation, a fossil hotbed deposited in this region 75 to 80 million years ago.
Following the Montana Dinosaur Trail east, adventurers will find five additional locations among the sweeping plains, river coulees and badland formations.
The Fort Peck Interpretive Center and Museum features a full-size cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil named Peck’s Rex™ that was unearthed near Fort Peck Lake in 1997. It is one of the most complete fossils discovered in the world.
One of the most compelling communities on the Montana Dinosaur Trail is Glendive, with stops at Frontier Gateway Museum and Makoshika State Park. Today, Montana’s largest state park is home to hiking trails, stunning badland views and a chance to see fossilized remains of several prehistoric species, including Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops.
There’s also plenty of exciting events for all ages along the Montana Dinosaur Trail, including the 11th Annual Dino Shindig this summer at the Carter County Museum in Ekalaka. This family-friendly event attracts attendees from all over the world for fun activities and hands-on fossil digs.
Find more dinosaur adventures and ways to explore Montana’s history at visitmt.com.