Denver Kids

Dinosaur Ridge
By Linda Collison & Bob Russell
  |  Gorp.com

Dinosaur Ridge is a spine of sedimentary rock about 3.5 miles long between I-70 and the town of Morrison to the south. Important discoveries have been made on this ridge, beginning in 1877 when Arthur Lakes first found bones from what would prove to be an apatosaurus. In 1937, when Alameda Parkway was being built, iguanodon and some ostrichlike tracks were discovered, then in 1992 more tracks were found. In 1989 the Friends of Dinosaur Ridge formed — a nonprofit group to protect the ridge and further develop it as an educational park.

Before going to see the dinosaur bones and tracks, stop at the Morrison Natural HistoryMuseum to brush up on your geologic time scales and such (501 Highway 8, on the southedge of Morrison). Be sure to check out the very interesting dinosaur egg exhibit. Watch a videopreviewing the history of Dinosaur Ridge, then watch your little ones dig in a sand pit and"discover" real fossils. Or try your hand at the tedious job of removing a dinosaur bone from therock its been embedded in for the last fifty million years or so. By the way, volunteers are alwaysneeded, not only to chip away at rock but also to help with exhibits and educational programs.What a great way for the family to learn more about the dinosaurs that once roamed the areaaround Interstate 70.

If you have an extra hour, stop at the nearby"point of geologic interest" at the junction of I-70and Highway 26. This road cut provides a half-mile interpretive trail on which you can learn toappreciate the different layers of rock — and discover life-forms that lived during thatperiod. It kind of makes your head spin to know that in half an hour you've just walked throughtwenty million years of earth history! It's the closest thing we've got to a time machine.

The best way to see and understand the tracks, bones, and microfossils along Dinosaur Ridge is tovisit on one of the Open Ridge Days. One Saturday a month from April through October AlamedaParkway is closed to traffic and guided tours are given. This activity is free if you walk the 2-mileround-trip trail, or you can pay a small fee to walk halfway and ride the bus back. Either way, it'sa much safer way to view the ridge because the road shoulders are very narrow and there are fewsafe places to pull off.

Where: West of Denver on Alameda Parkway (Highway 26) just north of Morrison anddirectly east of the Red Rocks Park entrance.
When: Self-guided trail open year-round, or take part in a guided tour during OpenRidge Days — one Saturday a month from April through October.
Activities: Viewing fossils, dinosaur tracks, and points of geologic interest. Theiguanodon tracks are the most spectacular and can be viewed from the road.
Facilities: Parking, interpretive signs, restrooms.
Be sure to bring: A book on dinosaurs appropriate for your child's age.

© Article copyright Pruett Publishing.


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