406 696 5842

The Ultimate Dinosaur

Dig Experience!




Come Dig with Us in 2018!

Want to Join a Dinosaur Dig?

Little Snowy Mountains Dinosaur Project  2017

Cost: $1,795.00 per week.

2017 Dig Programs Dates – Full!

Week 1 – July 2nd to July 7th.  Full.

Week 2 – July 16th to July 21st. Full.

Week 3 – July 30th to August 4th. Full.

Call for registration details @ 406-696-5842

Update 2018!

 2018 Dig Program Dates – Now Booking!


Week 1 – July 1st to July 6th. 20% full.

Week 2 – July 15th to July 20th. 25% full.

Week 3 – July 29th to August 3rd. 30% full.

Sign Up

Email or call for dig space availability at nate@jrdi.net or 1-406-696-5842.

Since 1993, JRDI has been dedicated to the preservation and education of Montana’s rich dinosaur history through our field programs. Our six-day long dig programs are tailored with this mission in mind. If you are serious about any aspect of natural history and love the outdoors, you’ll find this a rich learning experience. Our programs appeal to a wide audience: students, professionals and people from all walks of life from around the globe.

Each specimen we excavate has scientific value, so our digs are not for the casual vacationer. 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. We hope you’ll join us in 2017. We look forward to seeing our old friends and making new ones. Please note: the minimum age of participants is 12 (sorry, no exceptions).


2016 College Interns: Serena – Rutgers U. Kieran – Plymouth U. and Cienna – Ithaca College.

College Internships


If you are an enrolled college student and are declared in the following areas of earth sciences such as geology, paleontology, zoology or evolutionary biology you may qualify for a summer internship. For more information please contact us.


Interns mapping quarry 3.


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 liability insurance mandates the minimum age as 12. 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.



Quarry 3 excavation – Big Monty!


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


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




Lucy with her newly discovered Stegosaur tail spike. Thagomizer!


Plaster jacketing the bones.


Kat trenching a sauropod corocoid.


Jay, Lynn and John trenching around more stegosaur bones.


Plaster jacketing a sauropod bone.


Team member excavating a stegosaur plate and vertebrae.


A shot of part of quarry 2 with our base camp in the left background.


Team members excavating stegosaur bones. (Left and right ilium, vertebrae and ribs)


A complete 3 foot sauropod scapula.


Team members rolling the jacket containing the scapula.


2016 Field Report – October 1st 2016

Them bones, them bones, them Big bones!  It seems to sum up the JRDI digs this season.  We’ve been working quarry 2 since 2008 and this summer it revealed the remains of our 7th stegosaur.  We believe that by the time we exhaust this quarry it will have given up the most stegosaur material than any other site on the planet.  An added surprise excavated this summer in quarry 2 was additional bones from our sauropod Ava.  Ava’s right scapula (over 3 ft long) and corocoid along with a small caudal vertebra was recovered.  These bones had drifted away from Ava’s body and it gives us new hope that more of her lies elsewhere in the quarry.

  The opening up of quarry 3 to begin the excavation of Montana’s largest dinosaur was to say the least, a huge undertaking and very exciting!  During the summer of 2015 uncovering the initial rib sections and the single dorsal vertebrae only just hinted at the amount of bones and the sheer size of this dinosaur that we would uncover in 2016. Due to the steep incline of the hillside I knew that if we’re going to open up the site we needed to bring in some heavy equipment to help us with the overburden removal.  Fortunately we teamed up with Titan Equipment of Billings and they provided us a backhoe to remove the hillside that had been lying on top of our Jurassic giant for 150 million years.  With tons of the overburden remove the team got to work with hand tools to begin the excavation of bones.  During the 3 weeks we uncovered 5 more huge dorsal vertebrae, 2 cervical vertebrae and more ribs.  By the 3rd week the team started cutting down the 3 foot overburden left on the upper deck of the quarry and started to run into the ends of massive limb bones higher than the main quarry floor.  I can only speculate that this may represent a mound of gigantic rip rapped bones.  It was truly amazing to stand back and see the floor of the quarry literally covered with big bones everywhere like a giant version of Pick Up sticks!  We’ve named our behemoth “Big Monty”.  We now believe this sauropods is a Haplocanthosaurus or similar to that species.  Monty’s bones are twice the size of any known Haplocanthosaur remains.  I can’t wait to get back in there next summer!

  After doing these dig programs for almost a quarter of a century one cannot help but think about the people you meet and the friends you make.  The 2016 field season was made wonderfully possible by many of those people.  To my dear friends and hosts for 13 summer’s Dave and Rosalie, thank you for sharing such a beautiful place.  My friends in many geologic adventures Mark, Debbie, Brad and Doug, thanks for being there for me.   For 16 years Rodney has been there to take on any earth moving we’ve ever need.  Thank you too my friend.  To my college interns Serena, Cienna and Kieran a big thank you and good job and Kieran……shut up and dig! A big thanks to Dean, Mitch, Robin, Jim and Karen for figuring out the stratigraphy of the area.  You guys give geologist a good name……but I could be wrong! I’d to thank our corporate sponsors this year.  A big thanks Dave and his staff at Titan Equipment for donating the use of the backhoe.  I’d like to also thank Jim, Mike and Jason at Billings Clinic for their continued support and help in CT imaging of our specimens for student projects.  To Bob and Leroy, thanks for give your prehistoric programs.  They were entertaining and very educational.

  Finally I want to thank all of the 2016 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 but having even more questions.  Hope to see you again.

“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


Nate with Lucy’s thagomizer.

knowledge”.  George Gaylord Simpson – paleontologist  circa 1934. 


Nate Murphy

Judith River Dinosaur Institute




Itinerary 2017

Saturday: 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 Gallery

 Dig Photo Gallery

 Dig Photo Gallery