Dinosaur Museums and Hikes

Introduction

Paleontologists have found a treasure trove of dinosaur remains in the rock formations of the Moab area. The record of dinosaurs and other ancient animals in the Moab area is one of the best in the country.

Rocks deposited during the Mesozoic Era are well exposed in the Moab area. That period of time spans approximately 252 million years to 66 million years ago. The Mesozoic Era has three divisions: Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. Dinosaurs appear in our area toward the end of the Triassic. Southeastern Utah has a prolific fossil record of bones, and especially tracks, that has been exposed in the sedimentary record of Mesozoic age all around Moab. Dinosaurs, including birds, are reptiles belonging to the Archosauria (“ruling reptiles”). Pterosaurs (“winged lizards”) and crocodilians are also included in the Archosauria.

Did You Know?

First Utah Dinosaur Discovery

The first dinosaur discovery in Utah happened in 1859 (coincidentally, this was fifty years to the day prior to the discovery of the first bones found at the site later known as Dinosaur National Monument).

Moab Dinosaur Discoveries

Many dinosaurs have been found around Moab, including a small carnivorous dinosaur from the Triassic, a large Camarasaurus from the Jurassic, a gigantic Brontosaurus also from the Jurassic, and Cretaceous dinosaurs such as Utahraptor and Gastonia.

Museum of Moab

The Museum of Moab features a full cast skeleton of Gastonia, one of the armored dinosaurs that lived in this area during the Early Cretaceous. Also, as of 2014-5, crews from the Museum of Moab and the Natural History Museum of Utah have been working at the site of a Dystrophaeus viaemalae, the geologically oldest sauropod dinosaur in North America.

Moab Giants Museum & Dinosaur Park

The Moab Giants features a half-mile-long trail with more than 130, state-of-the-art, full size reconstructions of dinosaurs and the tracks they made in the area.

Moab’s Dinosaur Trails

There are numerous tracksites in the Moab area, such as the Mill Canyon Tracksite shown here, where you can get a glimpse of an era when huge creatures roamed the earth. This tracksite is a short walk with interpretive panels along the trail and boardwalk. Each panel describes unique dinosaur tracks that can be seen at this site, including eight different types of dinosaurs, along with a crocodile resting trace. (See below for location information.)

Moab’s Dinosaur Tracks

Dinosaur tracks are also very abundant around Moab. Tracks of dinosaurs of Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous age occur all around the area at sites including the Dinosaur Stomping Grounds, Mill Canyon, Poison Spider, Copper Ridge, Willow Springs, and Hell’s Revenge tracksites, to name just a few. There are also many tracks of non-dinosaurs. Interestingly, track evidence of ancient crocodiles is found at tracksites north of Arches National Park, in a uranium mine near the La Sal Mountains, and at the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite. Pterosaur track fossils are common in the region and are highlighted in the museum at Moab Giants. Finally, tracks of proto-mammals occur at many sites in the Navajo Sandstone in our area, in deposits that represent ancient sand dunes.

A World Class Dino-Record

Many dinosaurs have been found around Moab, including: a small carnivorous dinosaur from the Triassic north of town; a large Camarasaurus from the Jurassic, found south of town and on display at the Museum of Moab; a gigantic Brontosaurus also from the Jurassic, found just a few miles north of Moab and on display at the Museum of Paleontology at Brigham Young University; Cretaceous dinosaurs from just north of town such as Utahraptor (life-size model at Moab Giants) and Gastonia (cast skeleton on display at the Museum of Moab). The record of dinosaurs and other ancient animals in the Moab area is, as you will see, one of the best in the country.

Essential Equipment Checklist

Drinking Water – This is a high desert environment. During the hot months bring one gallon per person, per day.

Food – Eating at intervals provides an opportunity to rest and also provides the energy needed to complete the trail.

Good Footwear – Lightweight hikers or running shoes with rubbery soles are adequate for most hikes

Sun Protection – Sun hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses

Day Pack

Route Map or Trail Guide

First-Aid Kit

Insect Repellent

Cool Season Hikes – Long Pants, Sweater or Coat, Gloves, Hat

Dinosaur Sites Near Moab

  • Bull Canyon Overlook Dinosaur Tracksite
  • Copper Ridge Dinosaur Tracksite
  • Dinosaur Stomping Grounds
  • Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite
  • Mill Canyon Dinosaur Bone Trail
  • Poison Spider Dinosaur Tracksite
  • Willow Springs Dinosaur Tracksite

Museum of Moab Dinosaur Exhibits

118 E Center Street
Moab, UT 84532
GPS: 38.573198, -109.548337
(435) 259–7985
www.moabmuseum.org

Paleontologists have found a rich trove of dinosaur remains in the rock formations of the Moab area. Long before the land was dry and arid in its present state, dinosaurs roamed the region, which was then covered, in turn, by forests and lakes, then sand dunes and oases, then rivers and floodplains, and then swamps, shallow seas, and giant lakes.

On display in the Museum of Moab is an exciting collection of items:

  • A full cast skeleton of Gastonia, one of the armored dinosaurs that lived in this area during the Early Cretaceous
  • The real pelvis and tail of a Camarasaurus, a 40-foot-long plant eater that lived in what is now the Moab area during the Late Jurassic
  • Track imprints of dinosaurs
  • Petrified sections of conifer trees and cycads from the Late Triassic and Late Jurassic
  • The cast hind leg of a Utahraptor, a carnivorous dinosaur first found near Arches National Park in the Cedar Mountain Formation.

Visitors can step back in time in the Virginia Fossey room, devoted to the Mesozoic Era, the age of dinosaurs. It depicts the climate conditions and the existing geography at the time of the dinosaurs. Beautifully illustrated panels take visitors through the Mesozoic Era. On display is a partial section of vertebrae bones from a sauropod (Camarasaurus) found on private land south of Moab in the Morrison Formation of the Jurassic Period.

Stephen Spielberg’s movie, “Jurassic Park”, had to enlarge the “Velociraptor”‘s for dramatic effect. Spielberg should have used theUtahraptor, discovered north of Moab, which was the terrifying size he depicts in the film. At the museum you can see a replica of leg of a Utahraptor found in the Cedar Mountain Formation of the Cretaceous period. The leg alone is over 4 feet tall feet tall!

The Gastonia burgei Ankylosaur found at the Dalton Wells Quarry north of Moab is part of the Museum of Moab’s Display of the Mesozoic Era. A large set of Murals depicts the nearly 200 million years of the Mesozoic era and what Moab may have looked like during the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods. With new dinosaurs continually being found in Southeastern Utah the Museum of Moab keeps its displays updated to tell the fascinating story of ancient life in our area.

Paleosafari Moab Giants

Intersection of Highways 191 and 313,
11 miles north of downtown Moab.
GPS: 38.671768, -109.686812
( 435) 355-0288
www.moabgiants.com

Moab Giants Dinosaur Park is the first of its kind world-wide! Not only is it set among some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery in Moab, it is also a unique experience of the ages. You will journey back through time with a 3D cinema introducing you into the prehistoric world. There you get to make your own tracks alongside state-of the art life-size dinosaurs! You get to roam the extraordinary landscape they called home, as evidenced by the huge concentration of fossilized tracks found all around the area. The Tracks Museum is full of entertainment with interactive learning touch screens, games to play, and visually stunning exhibits that not only fascinate, but educate. It’s the ultimate place to discover the past with the modern conveniences and cutting edge technology that feel like the future.

The perfect balance of adventure and science, Moab Giants has been the realization of a dream for both our dinosaur park enthusiasts, as well as our world renowned scientists. They have special expertise in the field of fossil footprints and a deep knowledge of the paleontology of the region. Moab Giants has been actively engaged for many years in research, public education and exhibits and they are dedicated to being an educational and scientific resource for visitors from the local community, region, nation and the world, but not without some extreme fun along the way! It is Moab Giant’s mission to explore the beauty, adventure and scientific mysteries of the Moab area and share them with the world.”

Attractions

Plan to experience Moab Giants in its entirety by visiting all the attractions we have to offer. There is something for everyone to enjoy. Our exhibits include both indoor and outdoor experiences. Explore the park on your own and at your own pace, or participate in a more in-depth guided tour. Either way you will want to be sure you don’t miss a thing.

  • The Museum – The indoor exhibits use interactive, cutting edge technology to highlight stories about fossil footprints and their impact on dinosaur science and geology. These exhibits also include insights into the history and prehistory of the Moab area, and windows into Moab Giant’s research labs, show-casing research activity in the community and region. They also have some hands on exhibits that let you experiment for yourself how tracks are made and fossilized.
  • The 3D Theater – Experience the magic of the creation and early history of our Earth through 3D cinema. Visitors get the full effect of prehistoric life in 3D before being introduced into the open landscape where things really come to life.
  • The Trail – Here you will travel in time along a half-mile-long trail with more than 130, state-of-the-art, full size reconstructions of dinosaurs and the tracks they made in the area. Children and adults alike can walk with the dinosaurs and enjoy a Mesozoic adventure blended with a relaxed outing into the desert landscape with its beautiful backdrop of dinosaur-bearing rock formations.
  • The 5D Paleoaquarium – After your walk through the desert with the dinosaurs on land you will have the unique opportunity to cool off in the paleoaquarium. Enjoy the ambiance as you stroll past eight different 3D screens giving you a realistic view into ancient life under the sea. Your time in the aquarium will end in the 5D room with an all-encompassing experience you are sure not to forget!
  • The Playground and “Dig it Out” Areas -The kids will love this hands on dinosaur-themed playground for guests only. The playground includes rock climbing, web equipment, swings, slides and more! Climb inside T-Rex’s enormous mouth full of teeth and try your hand at paleontology and discovery by exploring their camp uncovering the dinosaur bones beneath the sand!
  • The Cafe – Plan to drop in to the Moab Giants Cafe for breakfast, lunch and tasty treats! The unique menu provides local favorites as well as dishes from around the world and are unlike any other in Moab. Everyone is sure to find something to satisfy their appetite. The menu is full of delicious food with names to contribute to your prehistoric adventure! It is sure to not disappoint!
  • The Gift Shop – Stop by the gift shop on your way out for a Moab Giants branded souvenir. Enjoy a large selection of gifts including dinosaur toys and models of all kinds, fashionable custom designed apparel for all ages, and everything in between.

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