Makoshika State Park is Montana's largest state park, located just outside Glendive, along the Yellowstone River. It is a park of outstanding natural beauty, referenced in William Clark's journal as the "birnt hills" from when Clark and his party camped in what is now the Glendive area on their return journey down the Yellowstone. Makoshika is a sprawling mass of badlands layered with color and awash in classic badland formations like caprocks, hoodoos and natural bridges. The habitat is almost entirely rugged badlands with stands of juniper and pine, with some open native prairie at the "top" of the park. Large mammals like mule deer and mountain lions (though they are rarely, if ever seen) inhabit the park. Native birds such as mountain bluebirds and turkey vultures return to Makoshika each year to breed. Many other bird species, including bald and golden eagles, can also be seen. Besides its outstanding natural beauty, Makoshika is also a world-class fossil bed and a place of incredible scientific importance, especially to paleontologists. The badlands of Makoshika are part of the celebrated Hell Creek Formation, famed worldwide as one of the richest caches of dinosaur fossils on the planet. Dinosaur fossils are routinely recovered from Makoshika, including the most popular dinosaurs like triceratops and Tyrannosaurus Rex. Several fossils of particular importance to science have been recovered from Makoshika. Dig expeditions from major scientific institutions such as the Museum of the Rockies, the Burpee Museum, the University of Wisconsin, Notre Dame University, and others come to the park every summer to search for new fossil finds.
Recreational opportunities in Makoshika State Park include but are not limited to:
Disc golf - the Makoshika disc golf course has a "Blue" rating from and is officially sanctioned by the Professional Disc Golf Association
Stargazing - with almost zero light pollution and the expansive "Big Sky" of Montana, Makoshika makes for an excellent site for stargazing. At this latitude, auroras can even be seen on occasion.
Paleontology - professional dig crews are usually happy to welcome volunteers to join them (Please note it is a violation of Montana law for park visitors to disturb or remove fossils or historic artifacts from the park.)
Movies, music and plays - during the summer months, the park presents free music acts, Montana Shakespeare in the Park, and free screenings of popular dinosaur-themed films (i.e., the Jurassic Park series) in the park amphitheater
Education - During the summer, the park presents weekly educational programming, including its weekly Summer Youth Program and weekly Campfire Program
Makoshika is accessible in all seasons, though the park road is closed beyond the Caprocks Trailhead during the winter months and can be closed below that trailhead during and after heavy snow and other winter weather.
FeesNon-resident entrance fee - $6 per vehicle; Camping - $18 resident, $28 non-resident
The visitor center, group use shelter, and amphitheater are all handicap accessible. However, given the nature of the terrain, the rest of the park would be largely inaccessible to handicap visitors. There are no handicap accessible trails in the park.
Pet Friendly Notes
Pets are allowed throughout Makoshika (Visitor Center excluded) but must remain leashed.