Public Expeditions: Frequently Asked Questions

Ever dream of hunting dinosaurs?  The Bighorn Basin Paleontological Institute offers an exciting opportunity to work alongside scientists in fossil-rich & rugged landscapes of southern Montana and northern Wyoming.  If you are interested in an unforgettable adventure - truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience - then read below to find out more.  Of course, if you're ready to sign up, you can do that too!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

You'll learn a lot more about our field expeditions by reading the FAQ's below. However, please feel free to contact us if you still have any questions.  

 

What to Expect

We'll spend our days in the beautifully rugged deserts where many of our sites are located, working on current dig sites or out in search of new discoveries! Nights will be spent back at our base camp (below), located on a forested mountainside overlooking the charming Western town of Red Lodge, MT. On some nights, our educators will hold informal classes, covering a wide range of subjects such as the geology of the Bighorn Basin, dinosaur anatomy, and fossil preparation. A tentative daily schedule is available below. 

In the field, we will be conducting all manner of paleontological field activities in rugged and potentially hazardous terrain.  Many of these activities involve long hikes over steep and loose hillsides and escarpments.  Large excavations require heavy lifting and repetitive movements.  All activities are conducted at high altitudes (over 4,500 feet).

Participants must be in good physical condition to participate in the BBPI's Field Expeditions. Potential participants should consult their physicians’ advice before registering if there is any question regarding their level of fitness and ability to accomplish strenuous tasks in steep, loose terrain, in high temperatures.  

  • For the safety of the entire team, we reserve the right to refuse to allow Expedition Crew Members to go to certain sites if we believe they cannot safely traverse the terrain.  
 

More Information for Expedition Crew Members

After you've registered, there's still more information you need to know.  Click the Expedition Crew Members Only link below to get a packing list, to make additional payments, complete the required forms and waivers, information about your travel plans, additional updates, and much more.  

A password is required for this page and will be sent to you when you submit your deposit.  

 
Image Credit: B. Malinowski

Image Credit: B. Malinowski

All participants must complete the Waiver of Liability Statement and submit it along with the completed Registration Form, Medical Release Form, and proof of medical insurance. These forms will be available during the registration process.   

 

Daily Itinerary

The following is a general daily itinerary.  The schedule each day and week is highly flexible, dependent on a number of factors, and subject to change upon short notice.

Day 1 (Sunday): Arrive in Billings/Red Lodge, MT. (If flying, a staff member will collect you as a group and drive you to the base camp. Following dinner there will be an orientation in one of the classrooms giving a basic summary of camp and field safety protocols, local history, etc.  If you are driving, please plan to arrive in camp no later than 3 pm.

Day 2 – 6: Following breakfast, we will depart YBRA each morning no later than 7:45 am and head out to our field sites.  Throughout the week we will be orienting you to the local geology, paleontology, and geography throughout the Bighorn Basin. 

  • Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings (after dinner) we will be hosting lessons on local geology, paleontology, anatomy, fossil preparation, etc.  By the end of this week, you will be familiar with the landscape that existed in this area 150 – 50 million years ago, including its inhabitants.  And, of course, you will have personally collected dozens of dinosaur and other fossils for the BBPI’s research and education programs. 
  • After dinner on Wednesday (weather permitting), we will take a scenic drive to the top of the Beartooth Pass – 11,000’ elev.  Dress warm!
  • Following dinner on Friday, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the famous pig races at the historic Bear Creek Saloon.

Day 7 (Saturday): After breakfast, we will transport you to the Billings airport, if needed.  Please schedule your flight home for an early to mid-afternoon departure so that no one is rushed for time. If your only departure option requires you to leave early Saturday morning, you may have to stay in a hotel room in Billings Friday night.  

The stunning view from Beartooth Pass at sunset.  Image Credit: B. Malinowski

 

Accommodations

Expedition Crew Members will stay at the Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association (YBRA).  First built in the 1930's, YBRA is a comfortable facility with cabins, showers, home-style cooking, spectacular views, and incredible sunsets almost every night!  Pets are not allowed.  Camp is located on the edge of the front range of the Beartooth Mountains overlooking Red Lodge, Montana.