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Dinosaur Trail Montana: Best to Know Before You Go

 Are you thinking about hitting the Dinosaur Trail in Montana? Here I have answered some common questions to make sure you have all the information you need to navigate this massive trail before heading out on your journey to go back in time and learn about these mysterious creatures.

Where are the Dinosaur Tracks in Montana?

From Rudyard to Ekalaka you’ll find 14 unique dinosaur-themed locations making up the statewide trail. The journey is a combination of various stops like museums to state parks. Dinosaur enthusiasts can take their time exploring all the unique spots at their own pace.

The Montana Dinosaur Trail can also be experienced and an open-air outdoor museum that features life-sized replicas of dinosaurs if you don’t feel like venturing into museums.

The trail can take up to a week to complete depending on how much time you dedicate to each of the unique destinations.

If you need help organizing your dinosaur adventure, you may be interested in the Prehistoric Passport. This handy tool can be used to learn about each of the primordial displays, exhibits, and activities at all 14 stops. The passport also includes a fun interactive opportunity to get a “Dino Icon” stamp to verify your visit to each location.

Once you have received all 14 stamps, you will receive a gold seal and an exclusive Montana Dinosaur Prehistoric Passport T-shirt made just for those who complete the trail.

You have five years from the date of purchase to complete your Montana dinosaur adventure to receive your gift.

How Many Stops Are Along The Montana Dinosaur Trail?

There are 14 official stops on the trail according to the official Montana Dinosaur Trail website. Each stop has its own offerings for a glimpse into the past and you can begin your trail adventure at any location you choose.

Some of the most important discoveries and important paleontologists can be found on the very same path as those embarking on this self-lead dinosaur discovery.

1. Blaine County Museum, 501 Indiana St., Chinook

If you are starting at the Blaine County Museum you’ll be greeted by the beautiful tree-lined streets of Chinook. Once inside the museum, visitors will have a chance to not only look at but touch and handle a variety of fossils.

The Blaine County Museum is known for its findings from the Judith River Formation which dates back to findings between 75-500 million years ago.

The museum is open five days a week and closed on federal holidays. You can also check out their unique exhibit video before you experience it in person.

Nearest to the west is the H. Earl Clack Museum, just 22 miles away. If you are heading east you can reach both Great Plains Dinosaur Museum and Phillips County Museum in about an hour

2. Carter County Museum, 306 Main St. North, Ekalaka

carter county museum
Image: Jimmy Emerson, DVM

The Carter County Museum is home to the Annual Dino Shindig and is also known for its giant hadrosaur display. Amateur archeologists and paleontologists of the Carter County Geological Society founded the museum in 1936. These founders were responding to the discoveries of fossils on local ranches and wanted a place to collect and study these treasures.

Nearest to the North in a little less than two hours is the Frontier Gateway Museum and Makoshika State Park. If you are heading East, you can reach Upper Musselshell Museum in about 5.5 hours.

3. The Rudyard Depot Museum, 4th Ave.

Part depo museum, part dino museum, Rudyard Depot Museum is a new museum that is home to several local artifacts, arrowheads, dino vertebrae, and teeth, along with displays of Maiasaura, Troodon, Tarasaurus, and Gryposaurus. As the local community digs, the museum continues to grow. Local museums often lend displays to the museum to help keep it fresh for visitors.

Nearest to the East you will find H. Earl Clack Museum, which is a 45-minute drive. If you plan to head West, you can reach Two Medicine Dinosaur Center in just over 2 hours.

4. Fort Peck Interpretive Center, Yellowstone Road

This is a great place to visit if you are in the area. The interpretive center offers a lot of information about the wildlife and nature in Montana. There are also exhibits on different topics such as water, mining, and agriculture and their signature attraction is “Peck’s RexTM,” one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever found.

The Fort Peck Interpretive Center is located on the edge of the beautiful Yellowstone River Valley. It is one of Montana’s most popular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts, school groups, families, and individual visitors from near and far alike.

If you want to head south, you can get to Garfield County Museum in just under 2 hours. If you would rather head East, your next stop will be in just over two hours and bring you to Frontier Gateway Museum and Makoshika State Park.

5. Frontier Gateway Museum, 201 State St., Glendive

The Frontier Gateway Museum is a museum that displays the history of the people and places in the area with free admission. The exhibits in this museum are interactive and engaging, allowing visitors to explore what it was like to live in this area.

This museum earned a place on the Dinosaur Trail because of their beloved Margie, a full-sized Struthiomimus found near Glendive in the early 1990s. Stegoceras, Triceratops, Thescelosaurus, and hadrosaurs as well as aquatic and plant fossils are also on display at this charming spot.

6. Garfield County Museum, Highway 200, Jordan

garfield county museum
Image: James St. John

This small but exciting museum is home to the world’s first identified Tyrannosaurus rex. The full skull is on display along with a full-size Triceratops cast and a Stygimoloch domed skull. This gem is free to the public but appreciates donations.

Heading North? In less than 2 hours you’ll reach Fort Peck Interpretive Center. If you are heading East, you will have a solid 2-hour drive to Frontier Gateway Museum and Makoshika State Park.

For those heading West, your next stop is three hours away at Upper Musselshell Museum.

7. Great Plains Dinosaur Museum, 405 North 1st St. East, Malta

For this stop, you may want to carve out a little extra time. Located in the center of the trail, the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum is a great place to perch for a few days because of its offerings and it’s so close to the Phillips County Museum.

There is an opportunity to go on your own “dino dig”, explore a mummified dinosaur and some of the geologically oldest dinosaur fossils ever to be recovered from Montana.

If you are heading West, you will only be 1 hour from Blaine County Museum. If you are heading East, you’ll be in Fort Peck Interpretive Center in 1.5 hours. For those heading south, you can be at Upper Musselshell Museum in a little over three hours.

8. H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum, 1753 US-2, Havre

Adjacent to the H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum is a famed archeological treasure, the Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump Site. Inside visitors will be able to witness remains of ancient history in the form of 75-million-year-old dinosaur eggs and embryos.

There is also a skull cast of the rare Stygimoloch and an Albertosaurus head mask is also on display for visitors.

If you are heading East, you can be at the Blaine County Museum in just 30 minutes. If you are heading West, you can make it to Depot Museum in 45 minutes.

9. Makoshika State Park

makoshika state park

Makoshink State Park is Montana’s largest state park. You can camp and hike at the home of a Triceratops skull in their newly renovated visitor center. Over ten different dinosaur species have been discovered in Makoshika, making it a perfect stop to learn even more about dinosaurs on your trail adventure.

Close to Makoshika is the Frontier Gateway Museum. If you are heading South, you can be at Carter County Museum in less than 2 hours. If you are heading West, you can be at Garfield County Museum in 2 hours flat.

10. Museum of the Rockies, 600 W. Kagy Blvd., Bozeman

museum of the rockies

Museum of the Rockies is home to the Siebel Dinosaur Complex and is a Smithsonian Affiliate. This museum boasts the largest collection of T. rex specimens anywhere in the world.

In addition to its T. rex collection, their Dinosaurs Under The Big Sky exhibit is one of the largest and most up-to-date dinosaur exhibits in the world.

Head 2 hours North and find yourself at your next stop, ​​Upper Musselshell Museum. If heading West you can find yourself at Old Trail Museum in a little over 3 hours.

For those heading east, you’ll have a bit of a travel day. It will take you over 6 and a half hours to get to Carter County Museum.

11. Old Trail Museum, 823 N Main, Choteau

old trail museum
Image: david

This complex consists of a dinosaur gallery, area artifacts and exhibits. The main building contains a life-size Maiasaura and a beautiful mural of its natural environment.

Children and adults will also have an opportunity to touch a real fossilized duck-billed dinosaur thighbone.

Those heading North can get to Two Medicine Dinosaur Center in 20 minutes. If heading East, you’ll find yourself at Upper Musselshell Museum in 3 hours. If you want to head to the larger Museum of the Rockies it will take you just over 3 hours heading South.

12. Phillips County Museum, 431 US-2, Malta

phillips county museum
Image: Tim Evanson

Meet authentic fossils and discoveries from the nearby Judith River. Children can engage with exhibits and identify the “dino skulls”, play dinosaur button match game, step into the T-Rex footprint and work on a dino puzzle.

Close by you can visit across the parking lot. If you are heading West, you can be at Blaine County Museum in an hour. For those heading East, you can be at Fort Peck Interpretive Center in an hour and a half.

13. Two Medicine Dinosaur Center, 120 2nd Ave South, Bynum

Also known as Montana Dinosaur Center, this hub is unique in that you can spend the day actually digging for dinosaurs during the summer. There is a museum housing a variety of dinosaurs, invertebrates, and plant fossils. There is also an emphasis on local discoveries.

Head South 20 minutes to check out the Old Trail Museum. If heading North you’ll find yourself at the Depot Museum in just over 2 hours.

14. Upper Musselshell Museum, 11 & 36 South Central Ave., Harlowton

The centerpiece of this stop on the Dinosaur Trail is Ava, the Avaceratops lammersi found in the Judith River Formation. She’s accompanied by a hadrosaur tibia and fibula, as well as a number of other dinosaur leg and hip bone fossils.

Head South and get to Museum of the Rockies in just 2 hours.

How Long Is The Dinosaur Trail?

The trail can be accomplished as a loop spanning a little more than 2,000 miles. Many people enjoy spending a week doing the trail and others like to take their time.

If you possess the Prehistoric Passport, you have 5 years to visit all the stops and get your stamp — making this a wonderful family tradition you can start.

To conclude, the Dinosaur Trail Montana is a wonderful way to learn about dinosaurs and gain a multisensory experience. The trail is over 2,000 miles long, with 14 official stops along the way. You can go at your own pace or use the helpful Prehistoric Passport available at all locations.

Would you do the trail all at once or come back often? Let us know how you think Dinosaur Trail is best experienced.

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