Get Outta Town: Visit the land before time at Dinosaur Ridge

by Amanda Push

Take a walk in the great outdoors and you’re bound to see all kinds of signs of wildlife, because here in Colorado, we’re lucky to have all manner of creatures — anything from deer and moose to bears. Unfortunately, we no longer have any dinosaurs we can harass when we visit national parks. Gone are the days when we could get dangerously close to a resting triceratops so we can take a selfie with it, or try to chum it up with a Tyrannosaurus rex hatchling. All things we do to our still living wildlife brethren. On second thought, maybe it is a good thing dinosaurs are extinct.

Lucky for us, we have the next best thing: Dinosaur Ridge where some of the biggest fossil finds have been uncovered, including Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and Allosaurus.

For those of you with piqued interest in visiting, Dinosaur Ridge is part of the Dakota Hogback in the Morrison Fossil Area National Natural Landmark in Jefferson County, Colo.

In 1877, Arthur Lakes found dinosaur bones in the rocks on the west side of Dinosaur Ridge. Since then, 15 digs have been started in that area in search for more fossils.

On the east side of Dinosaur Ridge, construction crews came across hundreds of dinosaur footprints. These footprints came in all shapes in sizes and mostly included prints from creatures like Eolambia, herbivores, and Carnivorous theropods. It’s crazy to see evidence literally underfoot that dinosaurs that once roamed the Earth walked right where you are.

In June 2011, the site was combined with the Parfet Prehistoric Preserve, just three miles north of Dinosaur Ridge. Together, the two national natural landmarks are now the Morrisson-Golden Fossil Areas.

The route runs about 200 feet from the museum to the high point along the ridge. In total, the hike is about two miles round-trip and takes about two hours overall to trek. That’s a long time to be moving, so a shuttle bus tour is also available, but you gotta pay for it.

The site also offers a Dinosaur Ridge Exhibit Hall, which includes plenty of educational displays about the dinosaurs that were discovered at that very site. When you wander through Dinosaur Ridge, you can also find interpretive signs at the different trails that explain the local geology. There’s volcanic ash bed, trace fossils, paleo-ecology and all kinds of other geological wonders you don’t realize you’re standing on.

For more information, visit

Amanda Push


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