If you have ever wanted to walk a real dinosaur trail, then make Montana’s largest state park your next destination. The Lakota people named this area around northeastern Montana Makoshika, which can either be translated to Bad Land, Bad Earth, or Bad Spirits. This stunning landscape features pine and junipers growing from badlands formations and scenic nature trails that make an idyllic setting for hiking, biking, wildlife watching, or picnicking. The striking views are made even more impressive by the range of dinosaur fossils that have been dug up here. Remains of the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops are just a few of the unearthed wonders.
The visitor center located at the entrance of the campground has some of these bones on display, with an impressive triceratops skull ready to delight visitors. The park offers a large range of activities including archaeology, bird watching, archaeology education, photography and wildlife viewing. Active RVers will love other outdoor adventures like hiking, hunting, and mountain biking. There are extensive amenities for any camper, with RVs welcome in any of the park’s 28 sites. This destination will surely intrigue any member of your family with its prehistoric scenery coupled with comfortable but basic amenities. Montana’s Mokashika State Park allows you to walk with dinosaurs. Bring your RV and spot fossils, bike picturesque trails, or enjoy peaceful nature.
RV Rentals in Makoshika State Park
Transportation in Makoshika State Park
Makoshika State Park is easy to access by any vehicle off of Highway 94 near the town of Glendive. The roads entering the park are paved, then they transition to gravel, eventually becoming dirt roads. Makoshika remains hot and dry the majority of the year, making driving across these roads simple. However, if the roads do get wet, they might be closed due to safety.
Be careful, some parts of the park have gravel roads at a steep incline. While on a sunny day, most vehicles will handle that without a problem. The incline could make you uneasy if you have never driven on gravel before. It is a good idea to check the state park website as there is periodically construction going on with road and trail closures.
Entry to some of the campsites can be at a slight incline, which should not be a problem for your RV but might make you out of breath if you decided to bike around the state parks roads. The trails through the park are picturesque and are worth driving around to enjoy the views.
Campgrounds and parking in Makoshika State Park
Campsites in Makoshika State Park
Cains Coulee Campground
Cains Coulee Campground is the main camping area for RVers consisting of 14 campsites and one tipi. While there are no hook ups available at the campground, there are vault toilets that are regularly cleaned and water available year-round. Most sites can fit a 35 or 45-foot long rig, while one site can hold an RV up to 70 feet long. Campsites are located on paved pads under the stunning backdrop of Montana hills. Each site comes with a fire pit and picnic table for your convenience. Campsites must be booked two days ahead of arrival and reservations can be made up to nine months prior. Typically, there will be availability throughout the week however you would want to book well in advanced for school holidays or weekends. This campground is pet-friendly and open year-round.
The maximum capacity per campsite is eight people, however if you wish to bring a bigger party there are some double campsites available. Quiet time must be observed between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Campfires are allowed in designated areas however wood must be purchased from nearby sources to keep Makoshika a pristine, natural environment.
There are several rustic campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis located in several different areas within the park. These campsites are primitive so they are perfect for those looking to get back in touch with nature. Each site provides a picnic table and fire pit. Most of these sites can only accommodate a small rig or tent. Pets are welcome.
Seasonal activities in Makoshika State Park
Considering the number of fossils that have been found in the Makoshika State Park, it is only natural that one of the activities you can partake in is archaeology. It is strictly prohibited to bring your own metal detecting equipment or to dig and remove artifacts from the State park. However, the park’s visitor center offers educations and occasional paleontology field digs that are open to the public by the Montana Dinosaur Trail.
Makoshika State Park offers adventurous RVers the chance to hone their bow hunting skills. Much of the park is open for deer hunting and visitors enjoy the task of intercepting deer while they move between their bedding and feeding areas. The proximity and patience required to shoot down a native deer is a test of skill any hunter should try and face. In comparison to hunting deer in forests, the Badlands add an additional level of difficulty since you are far more exposed.
If you are not ready to head out into the Badlands and open country to try your luck with wild deer, the campground offers stationary archery range. This is the ideal opportunity to practice and improve your technique and aim. Whether you are an novice or an avid archer, don’t miss the chance to take advantage of this unique attraction during your RV vacation to Montana.
Whatever time of the year you arrive in Makoshika, the beautiful landscapes and extensive nature trails will call you to them. There are short or lengthy hikes available which leave right from your campsite and will give you a better view of the surrounding landscapes. The Caprock Trail leads you around 50 feet into some of the rock formations and natural bridge. For anyone who is afraid of heights, these impressive sights might make them a little uneasy. Meanwhile, the Diane Gabriel Trail is a loop through the flatter grasslands in the Badlands. It then leads you up a flight of stairs to see the fossilized remains of a hadrosaur.
Whatever your fitness level is, you will find the perfect trail for you. The walking trails are not extremely well groomed or maintained, all adding to the wilderness charm of the park. Beware of rattlesnakes when you walk. They enjoy basking on the hot rocks warmed up by the sun.
Many of the trails and roads through the state park are also perfect for mountain biking. This way you can cover more ground and stop at various look outs and views. The Paramount Trail is one of the easy options. It starts at the Makoshika State Park visitor center and ends near the Diane Gabriel Trail. It is only one-mile long and the perfect starting ride for the whole family. If you are an avid mountain biker, you can download the map off their website and challenge yourself on a longer trail.
Makoshika is the largest of the Montana’s State Parks. It encompasses 11,538 acres at an elevation of 2,415 feet. This extensive landscape provides the perfect backdrop for any professional or amateur photographer. Enjoy the mesmerizing colors at every sunrise and sunset, as the light basks the Badlands formations in glowing orange light. If you enjoy wildlife photography you also have the opportunity to see many native animals wandering near your campsite.