Want to Join a Dinosaur Dig?

Come Dig with Us in 2021!

2021 Dig Program Dates – Now Booking!

Little Snowy Mountains Dinosaur Project  2021

Jurassic Dinosaurs – Camp out Exploration & Dig.

Week 1 – July 4th to July 9th. 100% full.

Week 2 – July 18th to July 23rd. 90% full.

Week 3 – August 1st to August 6th. 100% full.

Cost: $1,795.00 per week.

Call for space availability & registration details 406-696-5842

Judith River Dinosaur Institute’s Dig Programs.

Required Reading!

For more than 25 years the Judith River Dinosaur Institute (JRDI) has provided the very best in educational paleontological field programs available to the general public.  The programs were originally designed with educators in mind and remain more suited for adults.  They are by no means a “Summer Dino Camp” for kids.  However, it can make all the difference in the life of a young adult who believes that he or she wants to pursue a career in earth sciences.  In that way we encourage mature, serious-minded young adult students (ages 13 to 17) to join us with their parent or a legal guardian. Older young adults (ages 18 and up) may come on their own. Please read the details on the dig applications regarding medical conditions.

Our dig programs are six-day camp-out field expeditions.  The base camp has full field amenities such as hot showers and port-a –potties, but camping experience is needed.  We provide transportation to and from Billings to base camp. If participants chose to drive their own vehicles with the group, they may.  We also provide three square meals a day plus beverages.  No alcoholic beverages are allowed on our digs.  Participants only need bring a tent, sleeping bag, clothing, and personal effects.

All the specimens we excavate have scientific value and are destined for a museum.  Even if you’ve never had any class room or field experience, you can still participate. We just ask you come willing to learn and receive instruction. Everyone helps both in the quarry and in the camp!

Sometimes our work is hot, dry and dusty, but it’s always rewarding. Perhaps that’s why so many volunteers return.  Our goal has always been that everyone has a wonderful educational experience.   We hope you’ll join us in 2020. We look forward to seeing our old friends and making new ones.    

Please note: all minors ages 13 to 17 must attend with a parent or legal guardian (sorry, no exceptions).

College Internships

Youth Mentoring

We receive annual inquiries from parents looking for a dig program offering their son or daughter a real field experience beyond the tourist day trip. Our minimum age is 13, and all children ages 13-17 must be accompanied by an adult during the entire time of the dig. Unfortunately, there are no exceptions no matter how mature the child.

If your son/daughter meets the age requirement and has always expressed an interest in pursuing a career in paleontology (or earth science), then our week long field programs are a great starting point for many an aspiring scientist. JRDI has hosted programs for over 20 years with a real life experience that will teach them the sequence of steps in field paleontology from discovery to excavation, but also the responsibilities of being a paleontologist. We teach what is not taught through media or in a classroom.

We’ve had many students attend our programs over the past 20 years. Many have continued their goal of making paleontology their field of study and some have headed in another scientific direction. Either way, we help mentor because no matter what field of science, it is a methodology involving observation, asking questions, deductive thinking, experimenting, and drawing a conclusions. Our goal of education is to shape that type of critical thinking and not necessarily what the media’s perception of what a paleontologist does.

Many of our students who we mentor through high school years enter college with a great advantage. Most of them have returned to our field programs as summer interns and research associates.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call 1-406-696-5842.

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dinosaur digs

Carefully unearthing ribs. Once they’re cleaned and prepared some are over 8 feet long.

dinosaur digs

An amazing find by staff member Debbie. Could this be our first look at what a Haplocantosaurus tooth looked like? Based on the size of the tooth the skull would have been around 30” long. Huge for a sauropod!

dinosaur digs

Vertebrae and ribs. Some of the vertebra are over 3 feet tall!

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dinosaur dig
dinosaur dig
dinosaur dig
dinosaur dig
dinosaur dig
dinosaur dig
Palenotological experiences
dinosaur dig

2019 Field Report – August 11th, 2019

The 2019 season was a lot of fun! Old friends returning and new friends made.  Teams focused their efforts on excavating the remains of stegosaurs, allosaur and sauropods large and small. We also discovered new sites! One new site near quarry 3 has started producing stegosaur material and another quarry is showing some diplodocid and Allosaur bones.   The Kudos everyone!

After doing these dig programs for a quarter of a century one cannot help but think about the people you meet and the friends you make.  The 2019 field season was made wonderfully possible by many of those people.  To my dear friends and hosts for 16 summer’s Dave and Rosalie, thank you for sharing such a beautiful place.  My friends in many geologic adventures Mark, Debbie, Jim, Mitch, Shawna and Janet , thanks for being there for me. You guys keep it all going. For 17 years Rodney has been there to take on any earth moving project we’ve needed.  Thank you too my friend.  To my interns Cat, Colin and Jessica a big thank you too you!   Too Bob and Barb, thanks for giving your prehistoric programs.  They were entertaining and very educational.

Finally I want to thank all of the 2019 team members that traveled from all points to have a chance at discovery with us.  I hope that you went away a little more knowledgeable and having even more questions.  Hope to see you again.

What’s Up for 2020?

During week 2 we started a new site on a hillside near quarry 3.  We’ll continue that excavation in 2020 to see what it will give up. We will also expand the sauropod/allosaur site and others.  A couple of new sites were discovered this summer that need some work done on them also.


“Fossil hunting is by far the most fascinating of all sports, the hunter will never knows what his bag will be, perhaps nothing, perhaps a creature never before seen by human eyes!  The fossil hunter does not kill, he resurrects.  And the result of his sport is to add to the sum of human pleasure and the treasures of human knowledge”.

George Gaylord Simpson – paleontologist  circa 1934. 

Nate Murphy

Judith River Dinosaur Institute

Nate Murphy Judith River Dinosaur Institute

Itinerary 2020

Fly/drive into Billings. Check in at rendezvous point, Boothill Inn. Note: Boothill Inn offers free transportation to and from Billings Logan Airport.
12:00pm – JRDI staff meets team members in the lobby of the Boothill Inn. We load gear and assign vehicle transportation to the dig.
12:30pm – we depart from the Boothill Inn and make a 45 minute shopping stop at Walmart.
2:00 to 4:00pm – the team caravans to base camp in the Little Snowy Mts.
4:00 – 6:00pm – upon arrival team sets up camp.
6:00 – 8:00pm – dinner, meet and greet, orientation.
Monday – Thursday:
7:00 – 8:00am – breakfast.
8:00am – 12:00pm – field work.
12:00 – 1:00pm – lunch.
1:00 – 4:00pm – field work.
4:00pm – clean up and showers.
6:00 – 8:00pm – Dinner and clean up.
8:00pm – Paleontology/geology presentations, campfire discussions, movies and cheap live music upon request.
7:00 – 8:00am – Breakfast.
8:00 – 9:00am – break camp.
9:00 – 11:30am – fieldwork/close quarries.
11:30 – 1:00pm – Lunch, load and depart to Billings.
1:00 – 3:00pm – caravan back to Billings.
3:00 -3:30pm – arrive at the Boothill Inn, off load gear and check in.
6:30 – 6:45pm – meet at Boothill Inn lobby and go out for dinner together in Billings for a fun evening and a great way to end the week!
Note: Schedule may vary due to work load and weather.

Dig Photo Galleries