406 696 5842

The Ultimate Dinosaur

Dig Experience!

Some of the exposed bones of our giant Haplocanthosaur lie in the sunlight after being buried a 150 million years ago. Quite a sight indeed!

Come Dig with Us in 2018!

Want to Join a Dinosaur Dig?

Little Snowy Mountains Dinosaur Project  2018

Cost: $1,795.00 per week.

Call for registration details @ 406-696-5842

 2018 Dig Program Dates – Now Booking!


Week 1 – July 1st to July 6th. 60% full.

Week 2 – July 15th to July 20th. 65% full.

Week 3 – July 29th to August 3rd. 45% 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 2018. We look forward to seeing our old friends and making new ones. Please note: the minimum age of participants is 12 (sorry, no exceptions).

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.

Team members excavating bones while JRDI college interns map and record site data.


Part of the Job. Dinosaur CSI creating an accurate site map. Great job J.J. and Shane


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.


Team member Linda working on the pubis.


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


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!


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




Massive tail vertebrae being uncovered. The vertebra on the left is over 20” wide!

The shoulder blade of our giant. It weighed over 300 pounds!

vertebrate map

Ribs and vertebrae numbered and ready for mapping.

Staffer Mitch studies the various bones excavated by the team


Team members plaster jacketing six vertebrae.


The team relaxes at camp after dinner. Good job guys

The team relaxes at camp after dinner. Good job guys

2017 Field Report – October 10th 2017

The 2017 season was amazing!  Teams focused all their efforts on quarry 3 (Big Monty). The payoff was great!  We uncovered 6 dorsal vertebrae that each measured over three feet tall.  Five caudal (tail) vertebra with one with the centrum measuring 18” in diameter. We excavated portions of the pelvis and ribs. Another important find were three cervical (neck) vertebrae. All of these specimens were massive in size for a garden variety Haplocanthosaurus. In all we uncovered over 60 bones! Perhaps our most prized discovery found was one of our smallest, a single tooth.  The tooth is a very large pointed belonging to a sauropod. This tooth looked similar to a Brachiosaurus but not a perfect match by any means. Could this tooth be our first look at the dentition of huge Haplocanthosaurus? Maybe. Based on the size of the rooted tooth and comparison to other macronairian sauropods the skull was just over 30” in length. We’re hoping to recover more of these teeth in 2018.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen so many large bones uncovered in one season. 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 2017 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, Mitch 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 Morrison, Bryan, J.J. and Autumn a big thank you too you and the Banditos!  A  big thanks to our geologist Dean and Jim for figuring out the stratigraphy of the area.  You guys give geologist a good name……but I could be wrong!  Too Bob and Leroy, thanks for give your prehistoric programs.  They were entertaining and very educational.

  Finally I want to thank all of the 2017 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.

“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 with Lucy’s thagomizer.

Nate Murphy

Judith River Dinosaur Institute



Itinerary 2018

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

 Dig Photo Gallery