Travel: Dinosaur Tourism in Colorado

August 2012

Looking for a few last-minute day trips or weekend jaunts with the kids before school starts back? Pack up the car and head out on a real-life Jurassic Park adventure (minus the menacing T-Rex). Here are five spots where you can see some of the best-preserved, most extensive fossil collections in the country. 

1. Dinosaur Ridge: Just 15 minutes west of Denver in Morrison, you'll find  100 million-year-old stegosaurus and apatosaurus bones in this atypical museum setting that invites visitors to get up close and touch the fossils.

2. Dinosaur National Monument: Located on the Colorado/Utah border, this park offers plenty of other summer activities such as hiking, rafting, and camping, so make a weekend of it. Nearly 1,500 fossils are visible in the Quarry Exhibit Hall. Plus, the town of Dinosaur has fun street names like Stegosaurus Freeway, Brontosaurus Boulevard, and Triceratops Terrace.

3. Picketwire CanyonlandsMore than 1,300 brontosaur and allosaur tracks are embedded in a quarter-mile stretch of what used to be the shores of a massive lake. Keep in mind that the hike from the trailhead to the tracks is more than 10 miles roundtrip—so take plenty of water and snacks. 

4. Florrisant Fossil Beds National MonumentThey may not be as big as some of the other venues, but the plant and insect fossils here are every bit as intersting as their dinosaur counterparts. This park is also home to a forest of petrified redwood tree stumps, some of them up to 14-feet wide. 

5. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center: Along with dinosaur bones, you'll see prehistoric fish, reptiles, and mammals. Kids will dig the hands-on excavation site. 

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Davina van Buren on Twitter at @davinavanburen.