Public Expeditions

Ever dream of hunting dinosaurs?  The Bighorn Basin Paleontological Institute offers an exciting opportunity to work alongside scientists in the 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 how you can become an Expedition Crew Member!


Take a look at our 2020 Expedition brochure!


General Information

The BBPI's paleontologists have participated in field expeditions around the world, and while adventure is always part of the process, there's nothing quite like the Bighorn Basin - one of the best natural laboratories on the planet - for studying the history of life on Earth.  The BBPI's paleontologists have lead expeditions into the basin since 2010, building on the decades-long research projects of their predecessors and mentors.  


More Information for Expedition Crew Members

After you've registered, there's still more  you need to know.  Click the Expedition Crew Members Only link below to get a packing list, access required forms, receive updates regarding your upcoming adventure, and more!

Image by J. Schein

The Basics

Image Credit: L. Rooney

Image Credit: L. Rooney

The BBPI's scientific research, field work, and public expeditions are one and the same - they’re not just dinosaur-hunting and fossil-collecting trips.  By joining us as an Expedition Crew Member or Daily Visitor, you will learn about the geology, paleontology, and general natural history of the region, while helping the BBPI continue its decades-long research projects. Through our research, we aim to fully document the region's ancient organisms in order to better interpret and understand the ecosystems that existed here so long ago.  If you are looking for a real, science-based paleontology experience, then this is the opportunity for you.  



Expedition Crew Members must be:

  • At least 12 years of age (minors 12-17 must be accompanied by an adult)

  • In good physical condition. Daily activities likely will include strenuous tasks on loose, steep terrain, in high temperatures and intense summer sun. Please consult your physician if there is any question regarding your level of fitness and successfully accomplishing these tasks.

    • 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.


What Are We Looking For?

Illustration by Jason Poole.

It’s always great when we know ahead of time exactly what we’ll be working on. That’s the case for the 2020 Field Expedition, and that’s because the 2018 and 2019 field seasons were so productive.  Last season we continued excavations in multiple quarries and bone beds, but completed operations in only one of them! The rest of those skeletons are waiting for our return and will keep us busy for the next few years!  Each of these specimens are preserved in continental rocks from the Jurassic Period (~150 million years ago) in the famously fossil-rich Morrison Formation, where they’re preserved with the remains of crocodiles, turtles, fish, and mammals, as well as invertebrates and plants - all important pieces of the larger puzzle that we’re trying to assemble.  

Image by A. Franklin Sauropod vertebra.

The Morrison Formation is world famous for holding the remains of many of the largest animals ever to walk the Earth, especially in places like Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah.  Comparatively little is known about the Morrison or its fossil treasures this far north, though, and that's where we come in!  

Before 2016, our research team traditionally spent most of our time in the nearby latest Cretaceous Lance Formation (~68-65 million years old), which preserves continental environments near the edge of a retreating Western Interior Seaway.  It is a fascinating time in Earth's history just before the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. Within these rocks are the fossilized remains of the plants and animals that lived here, including crocodiles, turtles, fish, mammals, lizards, birds, and of course, dinosaurs! Many of the most famous dinosaurs - like Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex - called this region home, and their fossilized remains sometimes litter the hillsides!  There may be some opportunities to visit some of our old sites and to explore for new ones!


More Details

If this sounds like the kind of adventure you're looking for, then please go to our FAQ's page (linked below) for more details.  

If you have younger children who aren't quite ready for this experience, or you are looking for something a little less rigorous for yourself, don’t worry! You can also join the field team for a day or two as an Expedition Daily Visitors.


Not Up For A Whole Week?

Only have a day or two to spare?  You are invited to join our field teams for 1 or 2-day visits.  You won't just be "visitors" - you'll be contributing to decades-long research projects by helping us find and excavate the fossilized remains of dinosaurs and other ancient life million of years old!  Click below for more information!



Image by J. Schein

  • Fees include room and board, 3 meals/day at YBRA, all transportation to/from Billings, Montana and to/from field locations each day, all tools, training, and expertise. Basically, you don't have to spend a dime once you get to Montana!

To register for the GEO328 Field Paleontology course, please see our Students page for details. Registration and Fees are different.

  • Payment Schedule

    • Deposit: A nonrefundable $450 deposit is due upon registration

    • Final Payment: Due by June 1, 2019

    • Note: No fees are refundable after June 1.

  • Discounts!

    • Members of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University are invited to join the 2019 Field Expedition. Members receive a discount of $50/person/week! Use promo code 2019ACADEMYDINOS at checkout and have your membership number ready.