Weekly Parks Showcase: Makoshika State Park3 min read

This week’s focus takes us to Glendive, MT to Montana’s largest state park. In addition to the pine and juniper studded badlands formations, the park also houses the fossil remains of over ten different types of dinosaurs including Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. The popular Diane Gabriel Trail hike even offers views of an exposed Hadrosaur fossil embedded in the rugged hillside.

Established on November 10, 1953, thanks in part to a generous family land donation, Makoshika (Mah-koh-shi-kah) State Park is Montana’s largest state park.

While Makoshika is well known for the dinosaur fossils found (more than ten different species!) throughout the park, Montanans know our largest park is so much more than just fossils.

Did you know?

Makoshika is a variant spelling of the Lakota phrase meaning “bad land” or “land of bad spirits”.

Located just outside Glendive and open year-round, Makoshika is home to about half of the species of birds found in Montana.

Similar to the number of different birds, Makoshika boasts nearly half of the state’s flower species as well.

Popular with locals and tourists alike, Makoshika makes for a great day-trip, overnight stay, or even a multi-day adventure, but don’t worry, you won’t feel crowded!

With 11,538 acres and an elevation of 2,415 feet, finding an activity and solitude isn’t difficult in Makoshika!

You can:

✅ Visit the visitors center to see a Triceratops skull and other badlands interpretive displays.

✅ Camp (year-round!) at one of the 28 campsites. Or more of a backpacker? The park is now issuing backcountry permits for overnight trips.

✅ Take a drive along the scenic route through the park (note the road reopens after recent upgrades in 2019).

✅ Check out the Montana Dinosaur Trail and learn more about Montana paleontology.

✅ Go on a bird-watching excursion to see how many species you can spot.

✅ Weather erosion means the park’s landscape is ever-changing, creating once-in-a-lifetime views! Take in the beauty of the badlands on a day hike.

✅ Play a round — or two — of disk golf at the 18-hole course.

✅ Try your bow and arrow skills at the archery range.

✅ Plus so much more!

Be aware, the weather in the park varies and temperatures can be extreme, so be sure to check the weather before embarking on your Makoshika adventure.

If you happen to plan your trip in June, you’re in for a treat! Buzzard Days festival is held every June and features 10k and 5k races (plus a fun run!), Native American singers and drummers, mini-golf, jumping house, food, a frisbee golf tournament, hikes, and more!

You’ll also love the other special events hosted at Makoshika throughout the year like Montana Shakespeare in the Park, March for Parks, summer youth programs, and many more.

Let’s get outside!

How Does the Foundation Help State Parks Like Makoshika?

As Montana State Parks’ only statewide fundraising partner, the Foundation helps to raise awareness, education, and most importantly support boots-on-the-ground improvement projects for users and supporters like you. As an agency faced with a $22 million maintenance deficit, our work and collaboration help to ensure continued access and solutions currently inside our state park system.

Because in the end, we envision state parks that reflect Montana’s renowned outdoor recreation and heritage for all… forever.

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