Whether you’re 5 or 85, dinosaur lovers must take the trip along the Montana Dinosaur Trail.
Consisting of 14 dinosaur-focused museums, states parks and field digs, the Montana Dinosaur Trail is a unique way to explore “Big Sky Country.” Let’s take a look at three of the museums on the trail that I had the pleasure of visiting.
Museum of the Rockies
At the Museum of the Rockies, the life-size replica of “Big Mike,” an imposing bronze statue of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, greeted me at the front door. Big Mike, modeled after a T-Rex discovered in 1988 in eastern Montana, was sent to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., soon after my visit. Also in this museum, you can see many exhibits of dinosaur fossils. A really interesting feature here is the “Viewing laboratory,” where you can actually see how the experts clean the fossils through glass windows. This museum is curated by famed paleontologist Jack Horner, who served as an adviser on the Jurassic Park movies. According to Horner, the reason why so many fossils were discovered in this area is due to the way the land eroded, which made the bones more exposed.
Dinosaur exhibit at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman
The Old Trail Museum
Driving through the scenic prairie countryside, we arrived at The Old Trail Museum in Choteau. This small, local museum holds not only replicas, but also real dinosaur bones, teeth and other types of fossils. Standing in front of a “touch bone” – a fossilized dinosaur bone which you can actually touch – I couldn’t help but feel as if I had traveled back in time to the era of the dinosaur.
At the Old Trail Museum, you can also enjoy exhibits such as antiques from the 1800s. This is also a great place to relax and enjoy some ice cream from the old-fashioned parlor on-site.
Dinosaur fossil exhibit at the Old Trail Museum near Choteau
Two Medicine Dinosaur Center
When we arrived in the unbelievably small town of Bynum, population 23, a warehouse-looking object came into view on the side of the road where nothing else was. “Have we arrived?” I wondered. I stepped inside the building with doubts about this place, but five minutes later, we were jumping up and down with the excitement of a kid. The reason? In this museum, you can actually experience dinosaur fossil digging! We rushed to get in the car with the museum’s geologist. Passing by grain fields on both sides, we eventually arrived at the site and started digging with some direction from our guide. The Two Medicine Dinosaur Center offers a variety of dig programs from three hours to several days. It is truly a unique experience. Feeling like I was playing a role in uncovering history, I kept digging with nothing else in mind.
I’m determined to conquer all 14 spots on the Montana Dinosaur Trail next time!
Two Medicine Dinosaur Center in Bynum