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Dinosaur Ridge

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

16831 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465, United States

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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expert
Colm
Local tour guide
"Head to Dinosaur Ridge on a weekday morning to avoid the crowds; that's when you'll have the best chance to take a peaceful walk among the fossils without interruption. Also, many locals know that the best lighting for photography against the dramatic Morrison Fossil Area backdrop is just before noon when the sun is high but not yet casting harsh shadows."

What is Dinosaur Ridge?

Dinosaur Ridge is a world-renowned paleontological hotbed and outdoor museum located just west of Denver, Colorado, near the small town of Morrison. Known for its remarkably preserved dinosaur tracks and numerous fossils, this natural formation is part of the Morrison Fossil Area National Natural Landmark. Those fossilized footprints tell tales from over 100 million years ago, when the earth was roamed by these magnificent creatures.

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Visitors to Dinosaur Ridge can walk along the very same paths that dinosaurs did, peering down at tracks embedded in the rock and imagining the colossal beasts that once dominated these lands. It’s a hands-on history lesson where the remnants of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods are literally at your fingertips. Apart from the dino tracks, the Ridge also offers geological features that speak to even more ancient stories, dating back hundreds of millions of years, from the time when this region was beach-front property to a vast sea.

History of Dinosaur Ridge

The history of Dinosaur Ridge stretches back to its formation during the Late Cretaceous period, around 100 million years ago. However, its significance as a paleontological site wasn't realized until the late 19th century. Back then, in 1877, some of the best-known dinosaurs, including Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus, were first discovered in this area, which led to a period known as the 'Bone Wars' between pioneering paleontologists Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope.

Over the years, Dinosaur Ridge has been meticulously studied and preserved. This effort intensified after the discovery of well-preserved dinosaur tracks in 1937, which catapulted the site to scientific stardom. Since then, the Ridge has been protected as a natural landmark, with ongoing efforts to educate the public and protect the integrity of these ancient treasures. The Friends of Dinosaur Ridge, a dedicated volunteer organization, plays a critical role in these conservation efforts.

Why is Dinosaur Ridge Important?

Dinosaur Ridge is important not only because of the incredible number of dinosaur tracks that adorn its surface but also due to the quality of the fossils and geological insights it provides. It serves as a key site for understanding the environment and the creatures that lived during the Late Jurassic period. This slice of prehistoric life has implications for our understanding of evolution, extinction, and the shifting face of the planet.

The site is also a significant educational resource. It provides a vivid and tangible link to the past that no book or museum display can replicate. For scientists and laypeople alike, Dinosaur Ridge is a direct, unfiltered connection to an age that we can otherwise only imagine, allowing us to literally walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs and feel the thrill of discovery for ourselves.

Things to Do & See at Dinosaur Ridge

At Dinosaur Ridge, the appeal lies in the sheer variety of activities that cater to both casual visitors and die-hard dinosaur enthusiasts. For starters, there's the Dinosaur Ridge Trail—a self-guided walking tour where you can see hundreds of dinosaur tracks, the Triceratops Trail, and stunning geological formations. The trail is family-friendly, making it a perfect outing for all ages.

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You can also visit the Dinosaur Ridge Discovery Center, where you'll find interactive exhibits and hands-on activities to enhance your visit. I highly recommend timing your visit to coincide with one of the expert-guided tours for a deeper dive into the history and science behind the site. Additionally, the area hosts special events throughout the year, such as dinosaur-themed birthday parties and educational programs for school groups.

As someone with an affinity for geology, I'd suggest looking beyond the dinosaur tracks. Check out the ripple marks, fossilized palm fronds, and other ancient plant life that paint a broader picture of the prehistoric ecosystem. Whether you're a seasoned paleontologist or a family looking for an adventurous day out, Dinosaur Ridge offers a rare chance to connect with our planet's ancient past.

Frequently asked questions

What is Dinosaur Ridge?

Dinosaur Ridge is a famous natural landmark located near Denver, Colorado, known for its unique and exposed dinosaur tracks and fossils.

Where is Dinosaur Ridge located?

Dinosaur Ridge is located in Morrison, Colorado, just a short drive from Denver.

What can you do at Dinosaur Ridge?

Visitors to Dinosaur Ridge can explore the Dinosaur Ridge Trail featuring footprints and fossils, visit the exhibit hall, go on guided tours, and participate in educational programs.

Are there guided tours available at Dinosaur Ridge?

Yes, Dinosaur Ridge offers guided tours that provide detailed information about the tracks, fossils, and geological history of the area.

Is Dinosaur Ridge suitable for children?

Absolutely, Dinosaur Ridge is a family-friendly attraction that offers a fun and educational experience for children interested in dinosaurs and paleontology.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

16831 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465, United States

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps