The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum
Fossils found: Brachylophosaurus
Period: Mesozoic, Late Cretaceous
Formation: Judith River
Junior Paleo Dig:
Every Thursday from May 27-Sept 16 (except 7/1, 7/15, 8/12)
Adult Paleo Digs:
June 28-July 1
Join from 1 to 5 days
for Junior Paleo Dig
for Adult Paleo Dig
*Prices and dates subject to change, see provider's website for details, terms & conditions.
Junior Dig 5-12 year olds
Adult Dig: 12+, with minors accompanied by parents
The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum and Field Station is located in the rich land mass of Northeastern Montana, where some of the world’s best preserved dinosaur fossils have been discovered. The Museum also provides the opportunity for both youth and adults to learn, explore, dig, and excavate fossils with Museum staff and paleontologist partners at onsite dig programs and other educational programs.
Both the adult and junior field programs take place in the Judith River Formation, renowned for being the location where, in 1855, the very first dinosaur fossil in the western United States was discovered.
The early American paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope led expeditions to this area in the 19th century and since then, a dizzying array of all kinds of prehistoric life has been discovered here. Amazing and new dinosaur discoveries continue to be reported from Northeast Montana all the time, even after 160 years of exploration!
What to Expect:
There are two digs offered at the Great Plains Dinosaur Field Station.
1~Junior Paleontology Field Experience
Ages 5-11 (must be accompanied by an adult)
At a special site just a short trip from Malta, this program is designed to teach children about the science and techniques of geology and paleontology in the real setting and by practicing with real dinosaur fossils! All participants must be accompanied by an adult.
*Also available is a private Junior Field Experience, for an additional $25/participant.
2~Adult Paleontology Program
Ages 12+ (minors must be accompanied by an adult)
Participants have the option of signing up for 1-5 days
This summer, fieldwork will consist of prospecting or looking for fossils and finding new places to dig. Prospecting is the important initial step to fieldwork. Participants will learn to recognize fossil bone eroding out of a hill, basic local geology, and how to collect and record scientific data. If we are lucky enough to find any substantial specimens, we’ll record locations and might even open up a quarry to start digging!
Each day starts by meeting up the Museum bright and early to begin our day of discovery! These prospecting days will consist of walking along the hills and slopes of the badlands all day in search of the elusive fossil treasures waiting to be discovered. We’ll have access to a vehicle, but be prepared to spend all day walking around and exploring what the badlands have to offer. That can mean little if any shade, and no comfort of modern indoor plumbing.
Every single fossil the Museum collects is donated and prepared at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum for research and exhibits. That means that fossils you find could be preserved locally for everyone to enjoy!
What's Included in the Cost:
The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum will provide training in proper paleontology techniques and all the tools for digging and collecting, jacketing, and transporting fossils. A sack lunch and water is included for each participant as well.
For the Adult program, lunch, snacks, and water, as well as transportation to and from the dig location is provided.
For the Junior Program, all participants must be accompanied by an adult and have their own transportation to and from the site.
There are no accommodations provided with these programs, but Malta has a nice variety of motels in which to stay.
What to Bring:
The Great Plains Museum provides all tools and necessary equipment for the digs, but each participant should come prepared for spending a day out in the field. Bring a small backpack or tote, refillable water bottle, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and bug spray. You’re welcome to take pictures of your adventure as well. Close-toed shoes are required for every person for both the Junior and Adult dig programs (guardians included!). Flip-flops, sandals, and crocs are NOT close-toed. No close-toed shoes = no going out for you.
There is so much more to see in this part of the world
Here is a sampling of other things to do in the area:
Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs – a natural hot springs just minutes from Malta
Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge – a wildlife refuge where birds from all over North America stop at while migrating.
The American Prairie Reserve – see bison, pronghorn antelope, and tons of other native wildlife for the best representation of the American West before westward expansion.