Science Center Objects

NOROCK invites you to meet us on Saturday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at our Bozeman Headquarters to learn more about the exciting science we do on bears, elk, glaciers, avalanches, tree rings, bats, American pikas, native fish, invasive species, wildlife disease, sagebrush habitats, Montana’s water resources, Yellowstone geology and much more, including cool technology to study wildlife such as radars and drones!

We are at 2327 University Way in Bozeman - south of Bobcat Stadium.  Parking is free!  Follow the signs off Kagy - detours are in place due to road construction.  

Follow our Open House event and RSVP on Facebook!


You probably heard that there are about 700 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. You have also likely heard that the glaciers in Glacier National Park are declining in size and number. And who doesn't remember the fish die off in the Yellowstone River a few summers ago? But did you know that the U.S. Geological Survey has a scientific research center in Bozeman that is responsible for counting those bears, measuring the disappearing glaciers, and helping to prepare for and prevent future fish die-offs?

The USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center (NOROCK) has been your southwest Montana neighbor since 2000.  And with field locations in West Glacier, Missoula, Jackson (Wyoming), Corvallis (Oregon), and Knoxville, Tennessee (yes, Tennessee!), our scientists study a variety of animals and their habitats throughout Montana and the entire U.S. This family-friendly event is free to the public and includes several engaging and interactive exhibits and demonstrations:



USGS scientist Greg Pederson wraps a section of whitebark pine for later analysis.

USGS scientist Greg Pederson wraps a section of whitebark pine for later analysis. These ancient whitebark pine samples will be hauled out of the backcountry and used in future climate research.

(Credit: Sarah Jane Keller. Public domain.)

Ancient Trees and Ice Tell Stories: Scientists hike through forests to collect tree rings and up mountains to collect and preserve ancient materials melting out of ice patches, including ancient plant and animal remains and archeological materials. Come learn how tree rings and ice patch artifacts tell us stories about our past climate, avalanche and wildfire events, and strengthen our knowledge of climate history in the region and how that influenced ancient human activity.


Animal Trackers: USGS uses radio collars to track all sorts of animals in southwest Montana - bighorn sheep, grizzlies, elk, and deer. In this exhibit, you will see how the technology of radio-collars has changed over the last 50 years and have a chance to try your hand at finding some hidden transmitters. As another method to track animals, researchers also set up game cameras in the field to monitor what animals are present at various locations. Come see photos of all of the amazing animals that have been captured on cameras in remote locations of southwest Montana.


Butterfly Beacons: Parnassius butterflies are those found in alpine regions.   They are particularly sensitive to environmental change because their eggs hatch into caterpillars when the snow melts.  Scientists at Montana State University are 1) monitoring Parnassius butterflies to determine whether their annual abundance changes as a function of timing of snowmelt, 2) monitoring how the plants that they use respond to environmental change, and 3) comparing our results to a study of a sister species found in Poland. Come check out images from our phenocam (showing daily and seasonal images of butterfly habitat), plants that we study, survey gear we use, and maybe even some butterflies!


USGS scientist using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

USGS scientist Todd Preston using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).  USGS is actively exploring the use of small unmanned aerial system (aka drones) for scientific data collection and testing whether or not they are useful in monitoring wildlife. These systems have proven their utility in military reconnaissance missions and are now finding a second life in scientific research.

(Public domain.)

Cloud Hosting Solutions (CHS) enables USGS science by developing innovative Cloud technologies: Cloud Hosting Solutions (CHS) is a small, but growing group of engineers, computer scientists, earth/bio scientists, statisticians, etc. working to advance the USGS mission by developing and supporting a cloud hosting platform. Learn about how the Cloud enables the USGS to architect innovative solutions, support groundbreaking research, and provide scientific information and timely alerts to support decision makers, collaborators, and the public!


Clues in the Forest:  Montana Outdoor Science School (MOSS) gets children throughout the state of Montana excited about science and nature through school programs, summer camps, and outreach events. At MOSS' booth you will be invited to gain experience with Animal Tracking! How do scientists know an animal has been near? They leave clues! Come interact with real skulls, pelts, tracks and scat and practice thinking like a scientist!


Drone Zone: USGS scientists at NOROCK are actively exploring the use of small unmanned aerial system (aka drones) for scientific data collection and testing whether or not they are useful in monitoring wildlife. These systems have proven their utility in military reconnaissance missions and are now finding a second life in scientific research. Come see a demonstration in The Drone Zone and learn how we are using this technology to support our science.  


Pit tagging a fish

USGS scientist Robert Al-Chokhachy places a pit tag in a trout to track movement.

(Public domain.)

Fishy Business: The Ennis National Fish Hatchery (NFH) is largest facility in the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Broodstock Program. A broodstock hatchery specializes in rearing fish to adult size, then taking the eggs from those fish, incubating them, and shipping them to production hatcheries where they are hatched and the fish raised to stockable sizes. Come learn how Ennis produces about 20 million rainbow trout eggs annually for research facilities, universities and federal, state and tribal hatcheries in 23 states.


It Takes a Village to Do Good Science: USGS isn’t only geology and maps - our scientists study all types of living things and their habitats. For our science to happen we need biologists, ecologists, statisticians, hydrologists, and even experts in business, accounting and communications. Come learn about our scientists and science support staff and see all the cool career and volunteer opportunities USGS has to offer.


Know the Flow: Ever wonder how the USGS reports a streams’ flow to the web every 15 minutes? Come see the equipment used and how we can help you keep your eyes on nearly 225 streamgages in Montana.


An American pika collects grass and flowers to stockpile its winter food supplies.

An American pika collects grass and flowers to stockpile its winter food supplies.

(Credit: Will Thompson, USGS. Public domain.)

Listening for Bats: Learn how researchers study bats, THE only flying mammal in the world! Bats use echolocation to navigate and find food. As bats perform these tasks, researchers can record these bat calls to identify which species of bat made the call. Kids can play “batty bingo” to learn about the different species we have in Montana.


Mini Mountain Dwellers: Discover how animals beat the heat by finding refuge in cooler spots hidden within the mountains of the West. USGS scientists are using laser beams, temperature loggers, and satellites to detect these refuge habitats, and revealing how animals may be able to cope with climate change.


Radical Radars: You can see flocks of birds in weather radar? Thermal cameras are used to observe tiny flying animals around solar and wind towers? Yes - these are just some example of how USGS scientists are working to advance their tools of the trade. Come learn how weather radars, portable radars, thermal imaging cameras, and automated radio tracking are being used to detect the movement and behaviors of flying animals at night and at distances far beyond the naked eye.


Sampling the Green River below Fontenelle Reservoir

Sampling the Green River below Fontenelle Reservoir

(Credit: Cheryl Eddy Miller, USGS. Public domain.)

Seeing the Unseen: Microbes, Minerals, and More: Many factors affect water quality and most are invisible to the human eye. Find out about the good, the bad, and the ugly of what is in the water.


Snow and Avalanche Science 365: Learn why snow and avalanche science is a year-round effort. USGS avalanche experts conduct  seasonal snow surveys throughout Glacier National Park that contribute to regional climate and water availability information and assist in avalanche forecasting and plowing of Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road. During the summer our high elevation weather stations reveal connections between large-scale climate patterns and wildfire to assist wildland fire managers. 


USGS scientist Lisa McKeon sets up a repeat photo shot on Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park.

USGS scientist Lisa McKeon sets up a repeat photo shot on Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park.

(Public domain.)

Tracking Glacier Change in Glacier National Park:  
From the trail…USGS scientists scour old trails and mountain tops to re-photograph glaciers from the same place where photos were taken decades ago. These “before and after” images document glacier and landscape change that has occurred over time. Come see for yourself how the glaciers have responded to changes in the climate.

From the air…USGS scientists analyze historic aerial photographs and recent satellite imagery to record the shape and area of glaciers. Each image provides a record of the glacier’s size at a moment in time. This method is used to track glacier area change over time.


Wild West at its Best - Grizzly Bears: At this exhibit you will learn all about one of Montana’s most iconic species - the grizzly bear. For over 45 years the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team has been working in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to learn as much about grizzly bears as possible and the team is excited to share their experiences with you. Find out how scientists study grizzly bears in the wild and how the latest technologies have given new and unique insights into how many foods grizzly bears eat, their health, and behaviors. Explore our “bear trunk” for a hands-on experience and learn from our Forest Service partners how to be “bear wise” while living and recreating in bear country.  The Bear Aware trailer will be set up to share bear information, displays, and an inert bear spray demonstration with a our charging bear simulator. Check out our three life-sized bear mounts and explore bear-resistant containers, bear skulls, pelts, and more. Learn more about how to travel and live in bear country.


Yellowstone Geology: For over 50 years Dr. Ken Pierce has dedicated his career to geology and most of that focused on research in the Yellowstone region. Come meet this distinguished scientist and learn about the geologic processes - glaciation, volcanism, faulting, uplift - responsible for the formation of the natural landscapes you love in the greater Yellowstone-Teton area.


Southwest Montana Bear Education Working Group Bear Aware trailer and bear spray demo.

Southwest Montana Bear Education Working Group Bear Aware trailer and bear spray demo.

(Credit: Danielle Oyler, Southwest Montana Bear Education Working Group. Public domain.)

Participating Partners:

Wyoming - Montana Water Science Center

Southwest Montana Bear Education Working Group

Montana State University - Department of Ecology

Ennis National Fish Hatchery

Montana Outdoor Science School