Location: Bozeman, Montana http://www.museumoftherockies.org/
Address: 600 West Kagy Blvd
Day Pass Cost: $14 adult, $9.50 kids 5-17, 4 and under is free. (You may be eligible for free or reduced admission if you have a pass to a Science Center elsewhere)
Food Services: Limited but there are vending machines downstairs.
Age Range: All ages.
Estimated Stay Length: 90 minutes to half a day.
Worth the Trip?: Absolutely. The dinosaur exhibits are excellent, the children’s discovery centre is great for younger kids and they have interesting travelling exhibits too.
Gordie’s Review (5 years old): “I liked playing with my new friends.”
Nicky’s Review (2 years old): “Fish!” (She loves the fishing game in the Children’s Discovery Centre)
Bozeman is about 90 minutes away from Yellowstone National Park. The Museum of the Rockies makes a great stop on the way to or from the park. We went 2 years ago and enjoyed it so much we came back again this year.
Martin Children’s Discovery Center
This section is located upstairs and is geared towards kids 8 and under.
It features the science of Yellowstone National Park and is actually better than what is available inside the park. There is a ton of things to play with, touch and even smell.
At the front you can pick up a backpack filled with things you can use to explore the centre. It is fun but totally not necessary for you to enjoy your time there.
There’s an area just for kids 2 and under with age appropriate toys and soft mats to crawl around.
Nicky liked it there both as an infant and a 2 year old.
In the center there’s a model of the Old Faithful Geyser. The noise can be a little startling when it ‘erupts’. If think this may bother your kid, it doesn’t run between 10-noon daily. There is another geyser that you pump by hand too.
There’s a number of other hands on features that help explain the science of Yellowstone to kids as well.
They also have a mini model of the Old Faithful Inn with books and dress-up clothes. Gordie really enjoyed playing there with another kid he met while we were there.
On the other side the have a campground with lots of fun accessories.
On this visit our kids’ (2 and 5 years old) favorite thing was the fishing bridge. The have fishing poles with a little magnet on the end that you can use to catch the fabric fish. They would have happily played their for ages.
Siebel Dinosaur Complex
This is really the main attraction of the Museum of the Rockies. It houses one of the largest collections of dinosaur fossils in the world. Even if you’ve been to a dinosaur museum before, you will not be disappointed. We’ve been to the Tyrell Museum in Drumheller and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, DC – this exhibit is of comparable quality.
The museum houses the most T.rex specimens in the world (currently 13) including the largest T.rex skull in the world (Custer T.rex). At the time of this post the Custer T.red head is not on display as it is currently part of the travelling dinosaur exhibit in Japan.
One of the other highlights is the amazing displays on the growth and behavior of the Triceratops. That was my favorite part for sure. So interesting!
Some of the displays showed the dinosaur bones or muscles on one side and what the dinosaur might look like when it was alive on the other.
In each exhibit they also have kids areas set up with books and toys that fit the theme of the exhibit.
Paugh Regional History Hall
This exhibit features historical items and stories from the region from early exploration through World War II. I found this area to be a little less well suited to younger kids, but the large relatable artifacts like planes and other vehicles help hold their interest. There is also a children’s area with books, toys and costumes.
I really liked the house exhibit set up inside like an actual house with cut outs so that you could see the different rooms inside.
The Enduring Peoples exhibit is found between the History Hall and the Dinosaur Complex. It feature the life and culture of the Northern Plains Native Americans. No photography was allowed in the exhibit at the time we were there.
Special Exhibit: Geckos – Tails to Toepads. Closed September 7th
The Museum of the Rockies has a large area for travelling exhibits as well. On our first visit they had an exhibit on Napoleon. This time it was about Geckos.
Inside the exhibit you could see enclosures featuring many different kinds of geckos. The kids loved trying to find the geckos in each one. Some of them were pretty tricky.
Living History Farm
In the warmer months (this year has extended dates to celebrate the 25th anniversary – May 24 – September 21) just outside the museum, you can find the Living History Farm. The historic Tinsley house was relocated to the museum grounds and now serves as a window into the past. You can see costumed interpreters, bake and cook using recipes from the 1890s, grow an heirloom garden and work in the blacksmith’s shop. This year (2014) admission of the Living History Farm is free (regular admission still applies for the rest of the museum. Have you been to the Museum of the Rockies? What did you think?