Hundreds of dinosaur footprints and fossils line walking trails, just a short drive from Denver.
Dinosaur Ridge is one of the world’s foremost collections of natural dinosaur tracks and fossils, most of which were discovered in the late 1800s. This ridge 23 miles (37 kilometers) west of Denver became the site of numerous archaeological digs, which uncovered a treasure trove of prehistoric fossils, footprints and bones. It wasn’t until 1973 that the area became a National Natural Landmark. Today thousands of visitors come here annually to marvel at evidence of creatures that roamed the earth long before humans.
During sunlight hours it’s possible to stroll, bike or catch a ride in the shuttle on trails that run through current excavation sites and exposed fossils. Dinosaur tracks sit atop layers of sand and mudstone. The pads of the toes and patterns of migration are seen in over 300 footprints and 37 trackways. Place your hand or foot within one of the prints and you’ll get an idea of just how big these prehistoric creatures were.
Guided tours are available daily but need to be booked at least two weeks in advance. Alternatively, pick up a guide book from the information center or stop to read interpretive signs dotted along the way. These explain the paleontological and geological history of the area.
Set aside a couple of hours to get the most out of this natural national landmark. At the entrance to the site, along with the information center, you’ll find the Dinosaur Ridge Exhibit Hall, which has informative displays about the dinosaurs found at the site. The park’s open year-round. Come on a Saturday between May and October to catch out Dinosaur Discovery Days, free events for all ages. (Check the website for events and dates).
Dinosaur Ridge is located near Morrison, along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. There are bus tours through travel agencies in Denver, or go by car. Free parking is available.