Friday, June 19, 2015

Walking Dinosaur Ridge

Dinosaur footprint at Dinosaur Ridge
My wife and I visited Dinosaur Ridge in Denver for a day and we had a beautiful afternoon.  Rain (again) was threatening, but we just got damp this time.  The last time we visited the site with our children, we just drove up the hill and stopped by the Dinosaur tracks to look.  This time the road is closed to cars, is painted with lanes for bicyclists and pedestrians, and we were the pedestrians.  It is now called the Dino Trail.

Visitor at the footprints area
Medium shot of the Dinosaur Tracks, colored with charcoal to stand out
Wider view of the tracks
The site now has signs and markers, plus areas set alongside the rock to view the footprints, shale and the layers of sea floor with ripples.  There are 15 sites along the 2 mile trail, all with signage.  Signs explain the Morrison Foundation of sediment and what Colorado looked like then, when the land was under a shallow sea.  I only covered a few of the sites in this blog, go online to read more.
The site was first discovered during road construction in 1937 and was left open to the weather (and unfortunately, vandals) 52 years until the Friends of Dinosaur Ridge were formed.  The area is now designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service, a State of Colorado Natural Area, and is recommended by the Colorado Geologic Survey as an official Point of Geologic Interest.
Top of the ridge, note the round "occlusion" in the rock strata
Near the bottom of the other side of the ridge is the dinosaur bone quarry, encased in stone.  This site was first identified in 1877.  The world's first Stegosaurus was found at site #5 near here.  The bones petrified in the rock were apparently washed here during a flood into a pile.  This is one of the few places world-wide where you can actually touch the fossilized remains of a dinosaur.

Touch the bones here
The rain started (again) as we walked back toward our car.  It has rained so often this year, with occasional hail and lots of wind.  Yes we need the rain, but we don't need flooding and hail damage. Hopefully the weather will calm as summer approaches so we can all get outside.

Mule deer on the return trip don't mind the rain

Bicycles left, pedestrians right.  An easy 2 mile walk.
To find Dinosaur Ridge, follow I-70 west of Denver.  Exit south on CO-470.  Exit at West Alameda Parkway.  Dinosaur Ridge signs point the way.  Turn right and then take a quick right into the visitor center, or dive forward and to the left, parking along the roadside at the barriers.  I highly recommend visiting here.

No comments:

Post a Comment