State’s dino attractions saw visitor surge in 2016

The Montana Department of Commerce is reporting that dinosaurs continue to be a big draw in Montana.

According to a press release from the department’s Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development, the Montana Dinosaur Trail reported hosting a combined total of 333,151 visitors in 2016, an increase of 15 percent compared to 2015. More than one third of the visitors were from out of state.

“People have been fascinated with dinosaurs for generations,” said Trail Coordinator Victor Bjornberg. “Montana is fortunate to be one of few places where important dinosaur discoveries have been and are being made.

“The Montana Dinosaur Trail offers visitors a unique look and, in some cases, hands-on experiences in the world of dinosaurs and the science of paleontology. That’s special. You can’t find that opportunity in many other places of the world.”

The release went on to say that Montana dinosaurs are popular internationally too—especially in Japan, where the Department of Commerce marketing efforts highlight dinosaur-themed attractions. The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman is a sister museum to Mifune Dinosaur Museum in Kumamoto, Japan.

The Montana Dinosaur Trail includes 14 dinosaur museums, mostly located in northern and Eastern Montana. The trail offers a “Prehistoric Passport” for visitors to stamp at each location, and prizes for those who visit all 14 stops.

The Department of Commerce supports the trail through development and distribution of its brochure and map. Individual facilities have also received financial assistance through the department’s Tourism Grant Program. Most recently, the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta received a $4,919 grant for construction of a new exhibit and preparation area.

In March, the Carter County Museum in Ekalaka won a Montana Tourism Award for its annual Dino Shindig event, in which paleontologists from around North America visit Ekalaka for lectures and public field dig experiences.

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