Tate Dinosaur Digs

2017 Tate Dinosaur Digs

Thanks for your interest in joining the Tate Geological Museum on a summer dinosaur dig. The popular summer dinosaur digs will again be available in the summer of 2017. 

The goals of Tate Geological Museum paleontology field trips are to offer fun, educational experiences to the public while building up the museum’s collections for display and/or research.  The popular summer dinosaur digs will again be available in the summer of 2017.  Registration will be through the museum and CEU credit will be available upon request.  The fee this year will be $900/person for all trips, except $1000 for the August 16 to 20 dig. This includes six nights of lodging, six dinners, five field lunches, four breakfasts at the hotel in Lusk or Medicine Bow, snacks and soft drinks/water, and all ground transportation from Casper.  The price includes a double occupancy room.  If you want to room solo, we will charge an extra $250.00.  

A non-refundable deposit of $400 per person is required upon registration to hold your place. The balance of the fee is due no later than 60 days prior to the start of the dig.

The minimum age for participation is 16  (16 and 17-year-olds must be accompanied by an adult participant.)

Schedule 2017

We will be doing four dig weeks this summer, the first one on July 10-14, the second one July 24-28, the third August 16-20 and the fourth September 11-15. These dates are all Monday through Friday except August 16-20 (see details below).  Participants should be in Casper on the evening before so we can get started first thing in the morning.  The trip includes hotel stays in Casper the first and last nights, as well as hotel stays in Lusk or Medicine Bow the rest of the week.  Fossils collected remain property of the Tate Geological Museum, although participants are usually allowed to bring home a few samples of bone. Additionally, a museum volunteer photographer typically documents the dig and shares photos with participants. 

July 10-14 and August 16-20 will be at the Meadow Ranch in eastern Wyoming, digging in the late Cretaceous Lance Formation.  We have been collecting on this ranch for twelve years and still have a lot to do there.  There are a number of sites we may work during the week.  We have a partial hadrosaur skeleton that we would like to explore to see if we can make it a more complete skeleton (still looking for the skull); there are a few bone beds, sites with all sorts of bones mixed together, and there is a crocodile skull that needs exploring (only three croc skulls are known from the Lance Formation).  The final decision of what we will work on will be made later… I am open to the ideas of participants.  We may also find some time for prospecting.  The fossils here are for the late Cretaceous, about 65-66 million years old.  

The August 16-20 dig coincides with the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse on August 21st.  Both of our digs sites are outside the line of totality so we decided not to be at a dig site for the eclipse.  Casper, on the other hand, and the Tate Geological Museum, are right smack in the middle of the zone.  This trip returns participants to Casper the day before the eclipse.  The added cost of the trip includes the hotel stay the night before the eclipse (hotels have been sold out in Casper for the night since last summer).  The Tate Geological Museum will be closed that day so we can all enjoy this once in a lifetime event, but we will be having some sort of Eclipse Watching Party, and you would be welcome to join us.    Leaving Casper or staying an extra night after the eclipse will be a concern for participants who need to fly home.  Hotels in Casper are full for the night of the 21st.   Another option (cheaper) would be to fly into Denver, rent a car in Denver and stay in Laramie, Cheyenne or in Colorado after the eclipse, which will last until about 1PM.  

July 24-28 and September 11-15 we will be will be returning to the Morrison Formation at Como Bluff, near the town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming.  The fossils here date to the Jurassic Period and are about 140 million years old.  We will continue to explore and collect at the NASA site which contains a sauropod and a camptosaur...so far.  We may also dig at other sites on this ranch.  This ranch is part of the historical Como Bluff that was collected by Cope and Marsh in the early days of dinosaur exploration.  Numerous historic quarries are here.  

The trips are run by the Tate's field operations and prep lab manager, JP Cavigelli.  JP's expertise has led to his participation in numerous paleontological expeditions throughout the West as well as in Niger, Mongolia, and Tanzania. JP's recent projects include leading the excavation and preparation of Lee Rex, the only Tyrannosaurus rex found in Wyoming that will stay in Wyoming.

Fee Includes

Accommodations in Casper are included on the Sunday (or Tuesday Aug 15) evening prior to the dig and the Friday (or Sunday Aug 20th) evening after the dig at the Ramkota Hotel. The hotel offers a free shuttle to and from Casper-Natrona County International Airport. The cost of a dig also includes hotel accomodations in either Lusk (Covered Wagon Hotel) or Medicine Bow (Virginian Hotel), depending onthe dig site.  The Covered Wagon Hotel in Lusk offers continental breakfast. The hotel’s indoor pool and hot tub are always welcome after a hard day in the field. The Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow is more rustic… sit down restaurant breakfast and no pool.  All hotel accommodations are double occupancy. Same sex roommates are assigned as necessary. Single occupancy, based on hotel room availability, can be arranged at extra cost of $250, except for the night before the eclipse.  Any hotel rooms that differ form this arrangement are not covered in the cost of the dig.  Simple, delicious lunches in the field are provided daily, as are dinners each night in town. Cost is $900 for all digs, except for the Aug 16 to 20 dig which is $1000. Booze is not included in the cost of trips.  Dig fees also include all transportation from Casper to the dig site and back to Casper at the end of the dig.  


Participants are required to sign a Release Form.  Registration and release forms are available below to print. 

Print out these forms, fill them out and send with your payment to :

JP Cavigelli
Tate Geological Museum
Casper College
125 College Dr.
Casper, WY 82601

For more information please call 307-268-3008 or email J.P. Cavigelli at jpcavigelli@caspercollege.edu.