Walhalla / Pembina Gorge Frequently Asked Questions

Where do we meet?

A shuttle will pick up people outside the Forestwood Inn which will bring you to the dig area.  Full Day and Half-Day Morning meets at 7:45am.  Half-Day Afternoon meets at 12:45pm.

Can I take pictures?

Please do! We would love if you would be willing to share them with us as well. You can tag us on social media @NDGSpaleo (FacebookTwitter, and Instagram).

How strenuous is this dig?

This is a fairly low stress dig. You will be driven nearly all the way to the site, at which point you will need to walk up a slight incline to get to our dig area. Minor shoveling or pick axe work may be needed.

If I get too hot, is there any shade?

We have a shade tent and picnic tables nearby, where you can sit to cool off, or grab a drink of cold water.

What should I bring?

Hat, sunglasses, and of course a camera. We will provide all the tools you will be using throughout the day. Food is also no longer provided, so make sure to pack your lunch, and eat breakfast before you come.  We will NOT be returning to town for lunch on Full Days.  Please do not pack a giant cooler, to make sure everyone has enough space in the vans (think brown-bag lunch).

Will meals / souvenirs be provided?

No.  In the past we were able to provide souvenirs and food for diggers, but that has changed.  Please make sure to pack accordingly. 

What types of fossils are we finding?

80 million years ago the Pembina Gorge area was underwater – the Western Interior Seaway. We have found mosasuars (giant sea lizards), squid, sea turtles, Xiphactinus & Enchodus fish, Hesperornis birds, and more.

Wow! We can find a whole mosasaur?!

While we have pulled out most of a mosasaur, the majority of what we are finding are parts and pieces. Imagine creatures dying in an ocean, sinking down, being eaten, disturbed - we find lots of single elements. A mosasaur jaw here. A Xiphactinus vertebra there. A rib from a turtle.

Can we keep the fossils we find?

No – all fossils found will return to the State Fossil Collection in Bismarck, ND.

Most of the land we search on is State, Federal, or Foundation land (US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Teddy Roosevelt Medora Foundation, etc.), and the NDGS curates whatever is found. Feel free to take photos of whatever you find however!

Is there a restroom?

Yes – we have port-a-potties just off site.

Will my cell phone work?

Maybe – the signal varies in the area, but we ask that as courtesy to the other diggers, if you are going to use your phone to chat, please head off site. It tends to get very distracting.

Can I smoke?

Yes, but just like the cell phone use, as courtesy to the other diggers, we ask that you smoke off site. Please take your cigarette butts with you as well – we want to make sure we keep the area clean.

I’m from out of town – where’s a good place to stay?

A non-comprehensive list of local options is below.  In the past some people have opted to stay in nearby Canada - HOWEVER please be aware of travel restrictions, and border schedules.  If the border doesn't open until 8am, and we leave at 8am, you'll miss your dig!


Forestwood Inn, Walhalla, ND




Riverside Park Campground, Walhalla, ND




Moose Creek Lodge, Langdon, ND



Cobblestone Inn & Suites, Langdon, ND



Langdon Motor Inn, Langdon, ND



Cedar Inn Motel, Cavalier, ND




One Majestic Place Lodge, Mountain, ND





Where can I find some grub around here?

Some local restaurants included below.  PLEASE NOTE it can be difficult to find food on Sunday evenings.  Plan accordingly. 

  • Walhalla Inn Supper Club

                508 Sunset Ave. Walhalla

                Hours: Monday – Saturday 10am-1am, Sunday 10am-1am Bar-side only

                (701) 549-2700


  • Waters Family Restaurant and Bakery

                1108 Central Ave. Walhalla

                Hours:  Monday – Thursday 6am-7pm, Friday – Saturday 6am-9pm, Sunday 8am-2pm

                (701) 549-2443


  • Jackson’s Bar

                1011 Central Ave. Walhalla

                Hours:  Monday – Sunday 8am-2pm

                (701) 549-3183


  • Cedar Inn Steak House & Motel

                502 Division Ave. S. Cavalier

                Hours:  Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, Mon-Sat 5pm-9pm

                (701) 265-8341


  • Sporty’s Bar

                822 3rd St. Langdon

                Hours: Monday – Sunday 12pm-2am

                (701) 256-2692

What COVID-19 precautions are you taking?

The North Dakota Geological Survey Paleontology staff are doing all we can to make the summer digs as safe as possible.  To do that, we need your help.

Vans:  while in the vans, masks will be mandatory.  We will have disposable masks available for those that do not have their own.  Use proper mask-wearing procedures – your mask should come above your nose, and extend past your chin.  You will be assigned a van to ride in - make sure you return in the same van at the end of your session as well.

If you feel sick (cough, shortness of breath, fever, or sore throat), do not attend the dig.  Temperature checks will occur at the start of every day, for all staff and participants.  Anyone that appears sick will not be allowed to attend. We reserve the right to refuse participation, and your ticket will be refunded. 

After your dig is done, if you test positive for COVID-19 – let us know IMMEDIATELY.  If our staff has been exposed to COVID-19, we need to enter quarantine and inform other diggers.  If our staff enters quarantine, the digs will be cancelled (and refunded) for at least two weeks following notification. 

We will do our best to keep things as sanitary and safe as possible, but we need your help to do that.  Masks on site are not practical, as we need you to stay hydrated – touching masks repeatedly in order to take a drink negates the cleanliness of the mask.  Please maintain social distancing as much as possible with those outside of your group.  If a fossil is discovered that people wish to see – DO NOT crowd around the digger or fossil.  Wait for them to move, then inspect the find.  We will make sure that diggers have a chance to see important discoveries.
In years past we allowed diggers to move about the site or change dig spots.  This will not be allowed this year.  If you wish to move to another location, it must be approved by the paleontology staff.  The staff will be around a lot of people this summer and will be practicing social distancing with the diggers as much as possible.  We understand this will make examining finds more difficult, but please work with us.  If you find something, need to cut roots, or need help with something, you will need to move away from the find for us to examine more closely. 
Plastering in past years was a group effort, with the staff inviting the public to participate.  To accommodate social distancing, group plastering will not be held this year.  Plastering will only be done by the staff.