This Western US State Park Is A Great Destination For Discovering Fossils

Montana is famous for its nature. It is home to Glacier National Park in the north and borders Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park to the south, not to mention hiking trails like Lava Lake and Palisade Falls. While most of these attractions and the state's largest cities are in the western portion of the state, there are still things to do and see in the eastern section.

Around 40 miles from Montana's border with North Dakota is Makoshika State Park in Glendive, Montana. It is Montana's largest state park and incorporates terrain similar to that of Badlands National Park. In fact, Makoshika comes from the Lakota phrase "mako sica," which translates to "bad land." What makes such terrain "bad" is the lack of water, rugged peaks and valleys, and clay that becomes sticky after rainfall. These aspects make the region undesirable for permanent living, but unique for visitation. Additionally, Makoshika State Park has dinosaur fossils, including fossils of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Hike where dinosaurs once roamed at Makoshika State Park

Fossils from multiple species of dinosaur have been found at Makoshika State Park. Notable discoveries include an entire triceratops skull, mammoth tusks, parts of Tyrannosaurus Rex, and almost an entire skeleton of the lesser known Thescelosaur. The park's visitor center has interactive displays to show off these local findings as well as fossils from nearby regions such as an intact Tyrannosaurs Rex skull from Bozeman, Montana. Take a tour around the park to learn more about the area's prehistoric past that includes the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods that occurred some 65 million years ago. There is even a physical line to mark the two periods.

There are 11 hiking trails throughout the park along with picnic spaces and an outdoor amphitheater. Visitors can camp inside the park as well. Reserve a campsite on the park's website for RV or tent camping. The campground is open year round, as is the park itself except on most federal holidays.

Check out other palaeontologic attractions in Glendive

Pair your visit to Makoshika State Park with the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum just a few miles north of the park. The museum allows guests to be a paleontologist for a day with digs and fossil preps wherein visitors can see how scientists take fossils from initial discoveries to preserved artifacts. Full day digs and fossil prep experiences are reserved for visitors over 12, but those under 12 can take part in half-day digs. A few more miles away from Makoshika State Park is the Glendisaurus (Triceratops) Statue, a fun roadside attraction near Hollecker Lake.

If you do not want to camp in Makoshika State Park, there are hotels in both Glendive and the neighboring town of West Glendive like the Astoria Hotel and Riverside Inn respectively. Getting to Glendive is simple as it is located just off of Interstate 94, which runs from Billings to Michigan's border with Canada at Port Huron. This convenient interstate access make Glendive's prehistoric attractions unique road-trip additions.