As one of the 14 stops along the Montana Dinosaur Trail, Choteau’s Old Trail Museum offers guests one of the best glimpses into the state’s long and storied past.
Located at 823 N. Main Avenue, towards the northern edge of Choteau, the museum welcomes visitors throughout the summer months to come and explore its numerous artifacts cataloging the evolution of the region’s landscape and inhabitants.
What is the Old Trail Museum?
A non-profit organization, the Old Trail Museum is the modern home to the natural and cultural history of Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front Region.
Preserving artifacts of Montana’s dinosaur inhabitants, Native American Communities, and local wildlife, the Old Trail Museum explores the region’s development from its prehistoric past to its modern development and eccentricities.
What is there to see and do at the Old Trail Museum?
There is plenty of history to be discovered at the Old Trail Museum in Choteau. The museum houses remnants across Montana’s history, from prehistoric fossils to Native American and exploratory artifacts.
Visitors can explore these preservations of the past either in the museum’s main building or along the outdoor boardwalk that makes up the remainder of the Museum Complex.
The Main Museum Building
The main building is where the majority of the museum’s artifacts are displayed, including the Two Medicine Paleontology Gallery.
As the primary attraction of the museum, the gallery contains a life-size Maiasaura (the Montana State Fossil), displayed alongside a mural depicting the natural environment by Jim Utsler, a local artist.
Also featured in the gallery is a cast of a meat-eating dinosaur, an Einiosaurus skull, dinosaur eggs, nests, and even babies. Along with a slew of other paleontological artifacts, the main museum building also contains exhibits of more modern history.
Among Montana’s ancient reptilian inhabitants are exhibits of an arrow-riddled macabre specimen from the Hudson Bay Company and an exhibition on the town’s last public hanging.
Along the Museum’s Boardwalk
Beyond the main building, the museum features several historic buildings that line its outdoor boardwalk.
Exhibits to be discovered along the path include Jesse Gleason’s art studio, the Metis Red River Cart, the Old Agency on the Teton, the Grizzly Cabin, the Schoolhouse, and a Blackfeet Tepee or Lodge.
When finished touring the many artifacts of the exhibits, visitors can stop for a scoop at the museum’s ice cream parlor or head over to the Carriage House gift shop, where they sell local, Montana-made items.
Old Trail Tours
Each Summer, the museum offers two guided tours of the Old North Trail. The first tour brings guests along the trail’s northern sections.
On this hike, visitors will see Vision Quest sites, Eagle Traps, Tepee Rings, the Big Ring, the Antelope Butte Cairns, and numerous sections of the Old North Trail, which are still visible after centuries of use.
For the museum’s second annual tour, guides lead visitors along the trail’s southern leg. Guests traveling with this group will explore the trail’s Metis Cemetery, Big Bear’s cabin, the Pothole Archeological site, Buffalo Drive Cairn Lanes, and Old Buffalo Jump sites.
Along both stretches of the trail, the museum’s well-informed interpretive guides will provide guests with information and insights into each piece of history along the path.
Visitors to the Old Trail Tours will recall the records and importance of the Native American traditions that were once upheld in the region.
How to Visit the Old Trail Museum
The Old Trail Museum is open from the end of May and operates throughout the Summer until Labor Day. The museum welcomes its guests Tuesday Through Sunday from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm and only closes its doors on Mondays.
Admission to the Museum is $2.00 a person, and children three years of age and younger are free.
For more information regarding your visit to the Old Trail Museum, call 406-466-5332 or visit their website. For those that would prefer to drop by for a visit, the museum can be found at the northern edge of Choteau, at 823 N. Main Avenue.
What is the Next Stop Along Montana’s Dinosaur Trail?
Depending on your route, the next stop along Montana’s Dinosaur Trail will lead you in one of three directions. The nearest next stop along the historical path is only 13 miles north of the Old Trail Museum, at the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center.
For those making the trail in a clockwise rotation, the next stop along the Montana Dinosaur Trail will be 182 miles to the east of Choteau, at the Upper Musselshell Museum.
And finally, if you’ve already knocked both of those destinations off your to-do list, then the next leg along Montana’s Dinosaur Trail will lead you 197 South to Bozeman’s celebrated Museum of the Rockies.
With artifacts dating from Montana’s prehistoric past to the present, the Old Trail Museum offers a quintessential experience for exploring the state’s history.
As one of the 14 stops along the Montana Dinosaur Trail, the Old Trail Museum features one of the top paleontological galleries in the state.
Plan a trip to the museum to explore the region’s urban development from pre-industrialized landscape to modern communities. For the complete Old Trail Museum experience, visit one of the two interpretive Old Town Tours offered throughout the summer.
Check out the museum’s event schedule before visiting.