Digging for Dinosaurs in Montana

(– the accompanying photograph is a specimen that is on display at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum), from photographer erinblatzer
Ever since I met paleontologist Jack Horner at Cal Tech in Pasadena, California, I’ve always wanted to go on a dinosaur excavation, or “dino-dig”.  I used to have mixed feelings about this, since it seems that it either makes for bad specimens or a potential market for stealing fossils and “fossil poaching”.  Now, I see it as an educational opportunity, and a way to have people participate in science that might otherwise seem elitist and might actually even reduce or eliminate the black market for fossils.

I found that there’s a company that has a package tour to go dig with dinosaur hunters in Montana, as an educational travel opportunity, and in fact this growing industry has many “roll your sleeves up and get dirty” tour options available.

The helpful website of DinoRuss has a listing of dinosaur dig travel that you can participate in all over the world, including not only Montana and other Western States, but also China, the site of many new exciting fossils.

The A&E Channel also has a travel company, and one of their featured tours involves visiting and digging for fossils in Montana for 5 days.

The Geological Society of America has a more involved 10 day tour of dinosaur fossil digs, and sounds wonderful.

A company called paleoadventures has one and two day tours, which seem to be geared towards families.

A company called Geopassage.com describes their tours as follows:

June through August 2008 join us on a dinosaur research expedition in the Badlands of eastern Montana where you could take part in the discovery of a lifetime!

Our expedition searches for 65 million-year-old dinosaurs in a fossil-rich area known as the Hell Creek Formation located near the small town of Jordan, Montana that many call the “Dinosaur Capital of the World”. During past expeditions, we have discovered fossils of the three-horned Triceratops, the duck-billed Hadrosaur, and the ferocious Tyranosaurus rex.

Unlike many paleontological expeditions that allow only scholars to take part, PaleoWorld Research Foundation promotes the concept of “real science for all people” and encourages the involvement of everyone who has an interest in dinosaurs, no matter their age, background or experience. It is a wonderful opportunity for families, children, students, teachers, and adults to take part in a truly unique, educational, and fun dinosaur adventure! Our expedition offers a true 100% hands-on experience to all participants. Upon joining the expedition, you become a PWRF “associate researcher” and you will learn and take part in actual field techniques used to find, collect, and preserve dinosaur fossils.

Dig-for-a-Day or spend the summer but make no mistake about it; our program is NOT a tour.

We are one of the few dinosaur scientific expeditions open to all ages. However, individual guests must be at least 21 years of age due to car rental restrictions (18-yrs-old without rental car).

Have you ever been on a dinosaur fossil dig travel excursion of any kind, anywhere?  Let me know in the comments – thanks!

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