Colorado National Parks
Dinosaur National Monument
Before humans inhabited the town of Dinosaur, Colorado, dinosaurs were the lords of the land. When these dinosaurs died, an ancient river carried their bones away and settled them under the sand. In 1909, Earl Douglass, a paleontologist from Pennsylvania on a mission for something "big" for the wealthy Andrew Carnegie's living room, discovered the first dinosaur bones in this region. In 1915, after many bones had been found and shipped to Pennsylvania for the Carnegie Museum, Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the site as Dinosaur National Monument. Since then, 11 different kinds of dinosaurs have been discovered, including the Apatosaurus (also known as Brontosaurus) and the Colorado State Dinosaur, the Stegosaurus. Today, the site is not only an exploration into the lives of dinosaurs, but also a place for relaxation and recreation. Open all year. 300,000 visitors come to the park each year and explore its 210,000 acres.
To explore more about dinosaurs and how they lived, be sure to visit the Quarry Visitor Center. The Quarry protects an area of fossilized bones. Built around the dig site, a wall of the Quarry is a layer of rock containing 1500 bones! Archeologists carefully chipped away surrounding rock and left the bones in place. The Quarry is also home to a paleontology laboratory, exhibits and a bookstore.
The monument is filled with many recreation activities. Many who visit the park enjoy the monuments numerous hiking trails. One popular trail is the Geology Trail. You can pick up a self-guided tour booklet for this trail which points out interesting aspects along the way. Only 3/4 of a mile, it is an easy to moderate hike. Another popular trail is the Desert Voices Nature Trail. This trail was created especially for children. Along the trail there are signs made for children by children which have information about their hike. This trail is 1 1/2 miles long round trip and is an easy to moderate hike. White water rafting is another common activity.
Dinosaur also offers Junior Ranger and Junior Paleontologist programs. The Junior Ranger program takes about 4 hours to complete as you explore one of two trails. The Junior Paleontologist program takes about 1-2 hours to complete. At the completion of the workbook, your child presents the workbook to a ranger who will give them a colorful patch. There are two patches for each program, and many children complete both programs. Parents are encouraged to be active in these programs as well.
View an area map of Dinosaur National Monument
(Map provided by the U.S. National Park Service)
From Denver: Travel west on I-70 to exit 90. Go north on State Highway 13 for 39 miles to the turnoff for State Highway 64. Travel west on Highway 64 to Dinosaur, Colorado.
To continue to the Quarry Visitor Center, follow Highway 40 west to Jensen, Utah.
Places to Stay & Fun Things to Do
OUR JOURNEYS SET AN EASY PACE: beach camps, Canyon hikes. Experience Jurassic World on a Colorado Rafting Adventure. O.A.R.S is an authorized concessionaire of Dinosaur National Monument.
More Activities & Information
Dinosaur Area, Colorado includes: Rangely
Meeker, Colorado includes: Buford, Trappers Lake