Colorado & Utah 2021: Uncle Dan’s Dinosaur Tour, Part III – Dinosaur Tracks!

In case you missed ’em:

Another day, another exciting dinosaur site! On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we took the day off work and drove out to Utah again – this time headed for Canyonlands National Park, but with a few stops on the way. First up, Mill Canyon: a nondescript pull-off into a sparsely populated gravel parking lot that promised a big, exciting treat.

Just about a hundred yards or so from the parking lot, Dan promised, we would find the remains of a prehistoric mud patch with dozens of fossilized dinosaur tracks. We owed this exciting score to Danielle’s dad, who enjoys poking around in the desert and “finding stuff” as much as his daughter and son-in-law do.

The site consisted of a path, boardwalks, and viewing platforms around the perimeter, ensuring that the treasures in the ancient mud remained undisturbed.

Therapod tracks! We had fun speculating about who might have left this imprint in the prehistoric mud. Allosaurus? Probably not T-rex; wrong time period.

I was most excited to see these: sauropod tracks! Maybe apatosaurus, my favorite? Or brachiosaurus or diplodocus? Insert star-eyes emoji here.

Of course, no one was as excited about the tracks as the six-year-old boy. He was actually having a bit of an emo day; it had been a lot of car time over the past week. But he brightened right up when we saw the dinosaur tracks. Wish I could always deliver dinosaurs whenever anyone is grumpy.

Doesn’t get cooler than this!

Tracks everywhere! I couldn’t stop clicking away with my camera.

Prehistoric crocodile slither spot, complete with tail-drag. Shut the front door!

Seriously, it doesn’t get cooler than this. We didn’t make it to Dinosaur National Monument on this trip – have to have something to save for the next visit, right? – but we certainly weren’t hurting for dinosaur excitement even without hitting up the big park.

Have you ever visited a fossil site in the wild?


2 thoughts on “Colorado & Utah 2021: Uncle Dan’s Dinosaur Tour, Part III – Dinosaur Tracks!

  1. Loving all these dinosaur sites! My kid would go nuts for these, too. He used to struggle hard on long car rides, and as a result, we avoided big road trips for years. However, we’ve always let him play video games on airplanes and in airports (for years his only such opportunity), and expanding that to long car rides has been a game changer. He is prone to car sickness (especially when his Dad is driving, ahem) so we have to limit gaming in mountainous areas with twisty roads, and I also make him stop when we enter National Parks or other special places, but it’s perfect for long hauls on the interstate. And now he loves road trips!

    The only fossil site I’ve visited in the wild was the tetrapod trackway on Valentia Island in Ireland. This trip was before the kid was born and we stayed in the area a few nights hoping to secure passage to Skellig Michael (the water is very rough and the small boats can’t go out in inclement weather; we did make it out there but it was good we booked a few days because we needed it). This whole area was off the beaten track at the time — this was before the Star Wars movie was filmed on Skellig Michael. Anyway, the tetrapod tracks date to the Devonian, about 385 million years old, and are some of the oldest known fossil footprints made by vertebrates coming out of the sea onto land. Pre-dinosaurs! It was *definitely* cool to see.

    • Pre-dinosaurs is pretty awesome! I highly recommend you and the kiddo check out dinosaur country in Colorado and Utah. It would be right up your alley! 😀

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