advertisement

Makoshika State Park

Montana's largest state park, at 11,531 acres, Makoshika State Park (tel. 406/377-6256; www.fwp.mt.gov) is a few blocks from town via the railroad underpass. The name is Lakota, and means "bad earth" or "bad land." Erosion has done wonders with the park's upper and most malleable layer, forming magnificent spires in some places and coulees that cut deep into the multicolored valleys in others. Ponderosa pine trees are scattered over much of the park. The amazing thing about this state park is not necessarily the uncanny resemblance to Badlands National Park in South Dakota, but the abundance of dinosaur bones that have been removed from under the loess. Among the exhibits in the visitor center is the actual skull -- not a replica or cast -- from a young triceratops uncovered in the park. For more on the region's prehistory, pay a visit to the Makoshika Dinosaur Museum 111 W. Bell St. in downtown Glendive (tel. 406/377-1637; www.makoshika.com). Admission is $5 adults, $3 students and seniors, and free for kids 5 and under.

A paved road -- steep and narrow even by Montana mountain standards -- winds about 4 miles to an overlook that provides a wonderful view of the badlands. From there, the road becomes gravel and continues for another 3 1/2 miles before maintenance ends. There are also 5 miles of hiking trails (with 10 more to come at some point), along with a number of off-trail backpacking routes. The visitor center (daily 10am-6pm Memorial Day to Labor Day; Mon-Sat 9am-5pm the rest of the year) has a fine display of the history, prehistory, and geology of the park. There is also a "folf," or Frisbee golf, course and several hiking trails. The day-use fee is $5 per vehicle; campsites are $12 to $15.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.