HELENA, Mont. – The Montana Dinosaur Trail, a network of 14 museums located across northern, central and eastern Montana, is open and ready for the summer tourism season.
After drawing a record 333,151 visitors in 2016, trail use increased another 3 percent for a new high of 341,604 visitors in 2017. Now trail partners hope excitement surrounding the new “Jurassic World” film opening this Friday helps to usher in a third year of record-breaking visitation.
“Visitors looking for authentic dinosaur experiences will find them in spades in Montana,” said Department of Commerce Director Pam Haxby-Cote. “The Montana Dinosaur Trail is such a success story for collaboration and a major asset for bringing the economic impact of tourism into our communities along the Hi-Line and throughout central and eastern Montana.”
Montana has strong connections to the “Jurassic Park” film series. The first film opened in fictional Snakewater, Montana, and references Choteau. Dr. Jack Horner, the recently retired Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, has served as a scientific advisor to the filmmakers.
The past year has been a busy one for dinosaur news in Montana. On June 8, at the annual “Wine and Dino” event in Malta, the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum unveiled a new ceratopsian (horned dinosaur) found near their town that’s being studied by an international research team of paleontologists. The team says the soon-to-be-published scientific paper describing this new dinosaur will honor the community of Malta.
To serve visitors preparing to embark on the trail and others simply fascinated by Montana’s place in dinosaur history, a new website at MTDinoTrail.org features information about the facilities and their surrounding communities.
The Department of Commerce supports the trail through development and distribution of its brochure and map. Additionally, individual facilities have received financial assistance through Commerce’s tourism grants.