Montana's Geological Paradise Makoshika State Park is Not a Bad Land After All
By Tom Ski
Just outside of Glendive Montana, we saw a sign that read Makoshika State Park. Sounded like an interesting place to explore and a perfect time to take a stretch break. Turns out, Makoshika is the largest State Park in Montana with a land mass of 11,400 acres.
A geological paradise filled with such diversity of plant and animal life of millions of years ago. Fossils of palm trees and magnolia bushes, fish, such as rays, amphibians, crocodiles and other reptiles, rare and extinct birds and mammals, and several species of "terrible lizards" have been found here, including pieces of the duck-billed hadrosaur (Montana's state dinosaur) and the popular tyrannosaur.
We both have lived in this beautiful state for many years, and neither of us had heard of it, sad but true. This is exactly why we are on this Road Trekin Adventure, to take the time to explore, connect and to learn about the great place we live.
Makoshika, pronounced "Ma-ko'-shi-ka" is known as a Lakota phrase meaning bad land or bad spirits. The area is certainly unique. It was as if we had entered a different world. There were all sorts of weird funky formations.
What exactly did the Lakota know or understand about this particular area? It is believed that people have inhabited this area for 12,000 years or more. When European settlers came to the area in the 1800's, they called the place "hell without the fire" because of the stark beauty of the place impressed them.
Eastern Montana is very much grassland and prairie like. Makoshika State Park is completely different. Located next to the North Dakota border. The park is an arid and desert like environment. Unique rock formations of all sorts of shapes & sizes create unbelievable artistic landscapes. The sedimentary layers expose many different colors and textures. The layers date back to the dinosaur age and are older than the Dakota, Badlands, and dating back 65 million years ago.
Makoshika State Park offers miles of trails, great camping areas, amphitheater, a group use shelter and a plethora of photo opportunities to set your mind free as a shutter bug.
Besides the great trail system, there are 12 miles of roads with picturesque vistas. Another way to enjoy the beauty is to play a game of disc golf on the parks grandiose18 basket course or try your aim at the rifle or archery range.
It would be getting dark soon and having just started our trip to the Great Lakes Region, we were anxious to head down the highway. I highly recommend to anyone passing by the area to stop and visit this natural wonderland and let your imagination go wild.
We definitely plan to visit this place again, maybe in June on "Buzzard Day" and maybe go on Montana's "Toughest" 10K race. Hope to see you there!
Tom Ski is a master of the great outdoors. You can find Tom fly fishing in Montana, photographing elk and bison, watching birds from a hide or in the long grass, talking about life on his radio show and writing about his adventures at NewsBlaze.
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