State Park is a world of wonderous landscapes, scenery
those who want to get to know the landscape of eastern
Montana, one of the best ways is to pack a picnic,
a camera and an inquiring mind and venture into Makoshika
State Park Montanas largest state park.
11,531-acre park, located on the southeast edge of
Glendive, celebrates its 57th anniversary in 2010.
Makoshika (pronounced Mah-koh-shi-kah) gets
its name from a Lakota phrase meaning land of
bad spirits or badlands.
first few miles of park road pass through a coulee
surrounded by rugged gumbo knobs. Keep going and youll
find pine trees, scenic views of a valley 600 feet
below, and a sense of freedom only nature can provide.
Look closer, and you will find even more.
wind and water erosion are constantly changing the
sandstone knobs and caprocks. Evergreens stand in
contrast to the red scoria on other hillsides. During
warm months, over 150 species of wildflowers mix with
grasses and shrubs. Mule deer, though good at hiding
in the parks many coulees, can be seen
especially in the early morning and evening. Coyotes,
bobcats, turkey vultures, prairie falcons, golden
eagles, meadowlarks and mountain bluebirds also reside
in the park.
of years ago, dinosaurs walked the badlands. Fossils
of 10 species of dinosaur have been found in Makoshika,
with the endless potential for more. The most well-known
fossil in Makoshika is Triceratops, but Edmontosaurus
and Tyrannosaurus rex have also been found.
1991, volunteers from the Milwaukee Public Museum
excavated a Triceratops skull and skeleton, which
is on display in the visitor center. In 1997, a full
skeleton of the extremely rare Buganosaura was excavated
and airlifted out of the park by a team from the Museum
of the Rockies in Bozeman. Makoshika Park will have
a cast of the skeleton to display in the visitor center
when it is completed by Museum of the Rockies staff.
visitor center holds many other displays in addition
to the fossils. The Seaway exhibit helps visitors
understand what the park was like when it was under
an inland sea. Other exhibits, such as A Moment
of Dinosaurs and Ages of Erosion
help explain the fossils and landscape found in the
are scores of places to hike in Makoshika, but only
three hiking trails have been fully developed by the
park. All of the trails are covered in gumbo, which
is extremely slick when wet; none of them should be
attempted immediately following a rainstorm or snow
Diane Gabriel Trail, a 1.5-mile loop through the badlands
and grassland terrain, leaves the campground in Cains
Coulee. The highlight of the trail is a fossil site
where a Hadrosaur (duckbill dinosaur) is locked in
a sandstone block.
Cap Rock Nature Trail is a one-mile loop that features
a close-up look at soil strata, caprocks and a spectacular
natural bridge. Interpretive signs are placed at the
trails entrance and leaflet guides are available.
third developed hiking trail, the Kinney Coulee Trail,
is located about four miles from the park entrance.
The shortest trail at half a mile, the hike will take
you 300 feet down to the bottom of a coulee, through
pine trees and across eroding shapes that stir the
imagination and pique the interest of the curious.
developed campground is located one mile into Makoshika,
and for the adventurous types there are more rugged
sites scattered throughout the park. The campground
has modern vault pit toilets and drinking water available
from mid-May until October. There is another, semi-developed
campground about three miles into the park, also with
toilets but without drinking water. The other, more
isolated camping sites include tables and grills.
There is a $12 camping fee for all camping in the
park, though passport-holders pay only $9.
five miles into the park, there is an A-frame lodge
with beds, living spaces, a kitchen and a spectacular
view. It is the Lions Youth Camp, owned and operated
by the Glendive Lions Club. There is also a second,
smaller lodge with eight smaller cabins, outdoor barbecues
horseshoe pits, reserve use of the lodge.
newly renovated Makoshika Amphitheatre hosts the Makoshika
Melodrama, a dinner theater production, every August.
At 8 a.m. on Sundays during the summer, church services
are held at the Makoshika Amphitheater overlooking
the park and every year multiple educational and entertainment
programs take place in the amphitheatre and the group
park offers special summer programs each Thursday
from the first week of June until the last week of
July. The educational summer youth program takes place
every Thursday morning and the all-ages Campfire Talks
are given by speakers on a multitiude of subjects,
such as astronomy, history and geology, each Thursday
evening. Nature talks are also scheduled throughout
is a target shooting range about half a mile from
the parks entrance, and approximately six miles
in is the Makoshika Bowmen Archery Range. The field
range has targets set to National Field Archery Association
standards. The rifle range is open to the public as
part of the parks day use regulations, while
the archery range requires a daily use permit. Inquire
at the visitor center.
are approximately 12 miles of road running through
Makoshika Park, and only the first two miles are paved.
The next five miles are all-weather, but the last
five miles of road are unimproved, impassable in wet
conditions, narrow, twisting, and hilly. Trailers
and motorhomes are not recommended past the second
mile because of a series of switchbacks which proceed
up the hill at a 15 percent grade. A Makoshika State
Park road guide detailing the features of the park
is available for purchase for $2 at the Glendive Area
Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture in downtown Glendive
or at the parks visitor center.
residents are able to enter all state parks with a
valid Montana license plate. Non-residents are subject
to daily entrance fees or can choose to purchase an
annual Montana state park pass. Call the visitor center
(406) 377-6256 for schedules and other information.