Have you ever walked in the footsteps of giants from the past? Got up close and personal with a bone the size of a Honda Civic? Decoded petroglyphs on stone walls older than your great-great-great-great-grandmother? The Montana Dinosaur Trail encompasses unique destinations related to Montana’s prehistoric past. This 14-stop journey takes groups to museums and interpretive centers showcasing awe-inspiring dinosaur discoveries. A useful resource for groups is the Prehistoric Passport, an activity book and destination tracker filled with facts, figures, and fun activities related to the trail stops. Travelers who secure a stamp at each of the destinations will collect a special prize, an exclusive Montana Dinosaur Trail Prehistoric Passport T-shirt, for completing the entire trail route. So, grab your Prehistoric Passport, and make Mesozoic memories at these top three spots on the trail.
CARTER COUNTY MUSEUM, EKALAKA
Journey to where Montana’s dinosaur history began at Carter County Museum, the first museum dedicated to dinosaurs found across the state. Located in Ekalaka, an epicenter of prehistoric artifacts discoveries for many centuries, the museum showcases 90 million years of history—including a full triceratops skull and pachycephalosaur, mosasaur, and pterosaur casts. Plus, view interpretive displays on the history of life on the Plains, and learn about Native American history and culture.
Nearby stops at Medicine Rocks State Park and Custer National Forest will give you a taste of the geography these larger-than-life creatures roamed 65 million years ago. Rolling prairies that give way to towering sandstone rock formations were once the playgrounds of dinosaurs, and now they bring a sense of awe and wonder to your group.
MONTANA DINOSAUR CENTER, BYNUM
Best known for its immersive dinosaur-themed summer programs, the Montana Dinosaur Center (also known as the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center) lets groups dig into dinosaur history—literally. The museum houses bones, plant fossils, and cultural artifacts from around the region, including a skeletal model of the world’s longest dinosaur, the diplodocus. Schedule a fossil-digging expedition for your group via the website. Spots fill up fast, so it’s recommended operators book well in advance.
MUSEUM OF THE ROCKIES, BOZEMAN
Meet Big Mike, a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex towering at the entrance of the Museum of the Rockies. Beyond this magnificent bronze sculpture cast from the mold of real T. rex fossils, the museum boasts an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils, including a fully mounted Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.
The Smithsonian-affiliated museum is located near Montana State University and features exhibits beyond when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but dinosaur lovers travel from around the world to revel in the magnificence and history of the museum’s “Landforms/Lifeforms” and “Dinosaurs Under The Big Sky” exhibits.
Travel the Montana Dinosaur Trail
Fourteen museums and educational destinations bring Montana’s dinosaur history to life
- Blaine County Museum, Chinook
- Carter County Museum, Ekalaka
- Fort Peck Interpretive Center, Fort Peck
- Frontier Gateway Museum, Glendive
- Garfield County Museum, Jordan
- Great Plains Dinosaur Museum, Malta
- H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum, Havre
- Makoshika State Park, Glendive
- Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman
- Old Trail Museum, Choteau
- Phillips County Museum, Malta
- Rudyard Depot Museum, Rudyard Depot
- Two Medicine Dinosaur Center, Bynum
- Upper Musselshell Museum, Harlowton
Written by Erica Zazo
Featured image: Museum of the Rockies; Credit: Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development