Dumbo Rock, The Flying Elephant Found in Limestone

March 26, 2019

Posted By: Jessica Geary-Cecotti


As parents, we all have a worry meter that can go from mild to craaa-zy at warp speed. One worry that often lurks in the back of our minds is: What if my child is bullied? We encourage independence and uniqueness in our children, and yet we know that kids pick on a child with a perceived oddity. The beloved Disney movie  Dumbo  helps to highlight the point that our differences are what make us special and we shouldn’t be ashamed of them.

Hip hip hooray...for Montana has a natural stone in the likeness of Dumbo the flying elephant. Approximately 8 miles west of Drummond, on the north side of I-90, is a large outcropping of Madison limestone. Limestone is an organic sedimentary rock comprising layers of plant and animal debris. Skeletons, shells, coral and poop were deposited long ago and produced calcium carbonate (which also happens to be the main ingredient in Tums antacid!) Weather-resistant limestone creates dramatic cliffs, ridges and even an identifiable image. The limestone cliffs near the Bearmouth Rest Area boast a bashful Dumbo hiding behind his beloved oversized ears.

Approximately seven miles north is Garnet Ghost Town. Here, most of the limestone is underground, where magma flowed and changed the rock’s composition, leaving behind areas containing gold and garnets. In the late 1800s the town of Garnet boasted more than 1,000 people and produced approximately 60,000 ounces of gold. Garnet is surrounded by trails, offers a scavenger hunt for kids of all ages and is the most intact ghost town in Montana. The Warren Park Trail is named for the Civil War veteran who lived and mined in the area. The lonely miner had a "build-it-and-they-will-come" mentality, so he designed a trail from Garnet to his land and built picnic tables, swings and even a glider. These are still there for all to enjoy.

On your way to Garnet, Missoula or beyond, keep your eyes peeled for Dumbo Rock. It is most easily seen when going westbound on I-90, north of the freeway between mile markers 145 and 144. Look for 2 caves that are side by side, they are Dumbo's eyes.


Patti Albrecht is the owner of Earth's Treasures Fossil and Mineral Museum Gallery in Downtown Bozeman.

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