If you dig dinosaurs, there’s no better state than Montana, and there’s no better community than Glendive. The town sits atop the late-Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation and has seen significant paleontological discoveries over the years, including a complete Triceratops horridus skull and a nearly complete skeleton of the rare Thescelosaur.
Glendive proudly celebrates these dinosaur discoveries. Prehistoric beasts appear on signs and artworks. “The Dinos” are the local elementary school mascot. And for a town of roughly 5,000 residents, Glendive boasts not one, not two, but three dinosaur museums.
Frontier Gateway Museum
The Frontier Gateway Museum is the official Dawson County museum and serves as the “gateway” to the Montana Dinosaur Trail (a series of fourteen facilities across a dozen communities). Exhibits are presented chronologically, from prehistoric times well into the Twentieth Century.
Dinosaur exhibits include Triceratops, Thescelosaurus, Stegoceras (dome-headed dinosaurs), and hadrosaurs (duck- billed dinosaurs), as well as aquatic and plant fossils.
A full-size skeleton cast of “Margie” the Struthiomimus, which was found near Glendive in the early 1990s, is on display here. Compared to other species of the Cretaceous, this ostrich- like dinosaur is relatively small. But what she lacked in size, she made up for in speed. Fossil evidence suggests Struthiomimus was among the fastest dinosaurs (discovered to date).
Makoshika State Park Visitors Center
Montana’s largest state park, Makoshika State Park, is located just southeast of Glendive. Makoshika means “bad land” in Lakota, and the Park’s landscape is part of the late Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation. The geological forces of deposition and erosion that formed these badlands have allowed plants and animals to fossilize and become exposed for people to find. In Makoshika alone, ten species of dinosaurs have been discovered, and there are more remains to be found. (Be aware: no digging, collecting, or removal of fossils is permitted here.)
Significant discoveries include a complete Triceratops skull, the fossil remains of Edmontosaurus (a duck-billed dinosaur) and a nearly complete skeleton of the rare Thescelosaur (one of the last dinosaur species alive before the Cretaceous– Paleogene extinction event). The Makoshika State Park Visitors Center houses the Triceratops skull, and provides additional interpretive displays significant to the badlands.
Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum
The Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum offers a unique blend of paleontology and theology. It is Montana’s second largest dinosaur museum and the only museum which presents dinosaurs in a biblical context. The museum houses more than 24 full-size dinosaur displays, plus numerous singular fossils. Included are an 18-foot tall, 40-foot long Tyrannosaurus rex, a 39-foot long Acrocanthosaurus, a Triceratops exhibit, and a fossil mammal exhibit with a Mastodon, dire wolf, and sabre-tooth cat.
Part of the museum’s mission is “to challenge mankind
to think through the assumptions and consequences of the humanistic concept of evolution and its underlying premise that the earth is billions of years old.” The museum presents numerous exhibits explaining the origin of the geologic column, how the flood of Noah’s day deposited fossils, and dinosaurs’ relationship to biblical history.
The museum offers Dig-For-A-Day and Half-Day fossil digs on a private site throughout the summer. (Reservations are required a minimum of 24 hours prior to the dig date.)