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Glendive, Montana

Glendive, Montana was once a booming railroad town. As a hub for the Northern Pacific Railroad, the town today was once just a collection of tents and wagons.

Buildings in Glendive went up quickly starting with the arrival of the first load of lumber on the rail, in 1881. As the railroad became a secondary means of transport around the United States, the rail industry waned in Glendive.

Today, most residents in and around Glendive sustain their livelihood and the community through agricultural businesses such as farming and ranching.

The town is a very popular location for tourists that enjoy dinosaurs and fossils. On the eastern outskirts of the town is Makoshika State Park, the largest state park in Montana.

The badlands in this park are full of fossils of prehistoric animals and plants including dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are the main tourist attraction in Glendive today.

Main Attractions

Makoshika State Park

makoshika state park

Located just outside of Glendive, this is truly the place that draws visitors to the town. Makoshika State Park is the largest state park in Montana.

Visitors to the park will enjoy the unique badland environment (the word Makoshika (Ma-ko’-shi-ka) translates to ‘bad earth’ or ‘bad land’ in Lakota) with rock features that date to the Cretaceous period.

However, it isn’t the rocks that draw visitors to Makoshika State Park, it’s the dinosaurs!

Scattered throughout the park are fossil remains of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. The area is home to a number of active paleontological digs and research sites.

The visitor center at Makoshika State Park houses a Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops fossils and interpretive displays focused on the geological and natural history of the area.

Frontier Gateway Museum

If you want an in-depth look at what life was like in eastern Montana from prehistoric times to now, then you’ll really enjoy the Frontier Gateway Museum.

This museum has numerous exhibits that detail different aspects of life on the western frontier. You’ll see historical clothing, furniture, and furnishings from stores, restaurants, and homes from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Exhibits also look at some of the natural histories of the area, displaying fossils from in and around the Makoshika State Park and badlands.

The museum also has a number of exhibits on the museum property including the original schoolhouse for the area, farming equipment, a blacksmith shop, and a log cabin built in 1918 that has furnishings that were common in the area at that time.

Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum

glendive dinosaur and fossil museum
Image: Matt Green

If you want to see dinosaur fossils, up close and personal, this is a great spot to visit. The Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum is the largest dinosaur museum in the United States. It is so big that it holds a complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton that is 48-feet long!

As a matter of full disclosure, it is a great place to look at dinosaur fossils. However, it should be noted that the museum does focus its educational materials on dinosaurs and how they fit with the biblical story of creation.

This focus may not be for every visitor, but the fossils in the museum are well worth a walkthrough.

Historic Bell Bridge

historic bell bridge

The Bell Bridge in Glendive was the first bridge built over the Yellowstone River specifically for automobiles. Built-in 1926 for a sum of $305,000 (that was a lot of money in 1926), the bridge moved cars across the Yellowstone from Glendive towards North Dakota.

Over time as traffic increased and cars got bigger the bridge was no longer able to handle vehicle traffic. In 1992 the bridge was converted into a pedestrian and bicycle bridge.

Walking or riding a bike over the bridge is a great way to see the river, and enjoy a little bit of peace and quiet.

Recreation Activities

recreation activities in glendive

Fishing

One of the most popular fishing rivers in eastern Montana is the Yellowstone River.

The Yellowstone runs through Glendive and is a great place to fish for a variety of warm-water fish species. One of the draws to fishing in Glendive and the eastern portion of Yellowstone is the paddlefish.

This large prehistoric fish enjoys the warm, deep waters of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. Fishing for paddlefish is one of the biggest reasons people come to Glendive.

There is a limited season when paddlefish can be harvested, as well as a limited number of special licenses distributed for paddlefish.

Fishing regulations including information on paddlefish and information on how to buy a Montana fishing license online can be found on the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks website. All visitors to Montana that want to fish must have a current Montana fishing license.

Hiking

With the close proximity of Makoshika State Park to the town of Glendive, you’ll enjoy really great hiking trails within the Montana badlands.

Trails within Makoshika wind you through the unique land features that make Makoshika State Park such an amazing place to visit. Some of the trails even point out fossils within the rock structures, and other trails provide interpretive information on the geologic and natural history of the area.

There are also numerous trails within Glendive, and along the Yellowstone River that is used by locals for walking. These trails give you great access to the community as well as the peaceful views along the Yellowstone River.

Bicycling

Locals in Glendive, along with many visitors enjoy both road and mountain biking in the area.

Makoshika State Park has many trails that are open to bikes. One of the most popular is the Cap Rock Nature Trail which follows along the top of the badland canyons, giving you an amazing view of the area.

Trails that are used in town for walking are also great for biking. If you’ve got your bike along, don’t forget to take time to ride across the historic Bell Bridge, and enjoy the views of the Yellowstone River.

Agate Hunting

If you want to walk with a purpose, agate hunting is another really popular activity in Glendive.

The Yellowstone River is a prime location for looking for agates. These colorful rocks are popular with rock collectors thanks to their drab exteriors and oftentimes, very colorful interiors.

The type of agate that is most common in the Glendive area is called Moss Agate. Look for these cool rocks along the Yellowstone River. Collecting agate is legal so long as they are found below the high-water line of the river.

Accommodations

Glendive is a pretty popular tourist location in eastern Montana, so it’s no surprise that it has quite a number of lodging options.

Besides the locations we’ve listed, there are also vacation rentals, locally-owned lodging options, and some bed and breakfasts.

Special Events

There are a few special events and festivals that you might want to check out during your visit to Glendive. Many of the area events are hosted by the rangers at Makoshika State Park.

  • February – Glendive Ag Trade Show
  • April – Glendive Spring Fling
  • JuneBuzzard Day
  • JulyDawson County Fair
  • September – Mako-Chella Music Festival
  • October – Junkapalooza & Harvest Fest
  • October – BBQ in the Badlands and Brewfest

Activities Near Glendive

activities near glendive

Recreation Activities

National Parks and Forests

County and State Parks

Museums

Tours

 

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