Colorado is famous for its snowy slopes, natural beauty, and, of course, the dinosaurs. Researchers from around the world come here to study the incredible prehistoric fossils that have been uncovered since the 1800’s! While it might seem unbelievable by looking at the Rockies, Colorado was once covered by an enormous ancient sea, then later by a rich rainforest. The environment here is perfect for preserving fossilized remains, so this state has become one of the most important locations in the paleontology field.
The dusty deserts have produced thousands of well-preserved finds that have helped to piece together the incredible prehistoric past. While you may not be ready to grab a pick and start digging (it’s best to leave this job to the professionals), here are 10 incredible sites in Colorado where you can peer back in time to the days of the dinosaurs!
1. The Morrison Formation
The Morrison Formation is a large expanse of upper Jurassic sedimentary rock that spans through the Rocky Mountains, primarily in Colorado and Wyoming. This great formation is home to one of the largest Jurassic Era graveyards in the world.
A multitude of dinosaur remains have been found throughout the Morrison Formation including the Stegosaurs, Camarasaurus, Apatosaurus, and more.
2. Dinosaur, CO
There is an entire town in Colorado dedicated to dinosaurs! Yes, it really is named Dinosaur, CO.
Located on the northwestern border, the town of Dinosaur is part of Dinosaur National Monument and is a vast dinosaur graveyard and amazing other paleontological and geological hot spots.
3. Dinosaur Ridge
Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison, CO houses an amazing area of fossilized footprints. On one side of the horseshoe trail, there are prints from three different species, and triceratops remains were found on the other side.
With a paved road intended for walkers, bikers, and tour buses, this amazing paleontological site is a must see (and easy to get to)! Do not forget to stop by the resource center for more information about the area and to get a ticket for a guided bus tour.
4. Florissant Fossil Beds
The Florissant Fossil Beds are located west of Colorado Springs, off Hwy 24 in Florissant, CO. This fossil-rich paleontological site is a National Park and still uses the fossil beds for research purposes.
You can make a fun day trip to the park by visiting several sites, taking hikes, guided tours, and even on horseback.
5. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
Located in Woodland Park off Hwy 24 west of Colorado Springs is the Dinosaur Resource Center. This prehistoric hotspot houses multiple exhibits displaying a Triceratops skull and a dinosaur appropriately named Denversaurus.
Don’t forget to check out the Paleo Lab, where visitors can watch paleontologists hard at work on their recent discoveries.
6. Garden Park, CO
With its rich history of paleontology rivalry and home to the first discovered brontosaurus (amid much controversy), the Garden Park dig site is a great adventure for any dinosaur enthusiast.
As one of the largest fossil sites in the US, many large well know dinosaurs have been discovered here, including the Allosaurus and Diplodicus.
7. Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center
Since the closing of the Canon City Dinosaur Depot, many of the exhibits have been moved to the Royal Gorge Regional Museum. In the “Dinosaur Migration” exhibit, you will find the world’s most complete Stegosaurus skeleton, along with other fossils and rocks from the area.
8. Skyline Drive
If you are in the Canon City area and want another adventure after checking out Garden Park, be sure to take a drive over Skyline Drive, located west of Canon City.
At the top, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city and see fossilized Ankylosaur tracks that project along rock wall.
9. Fossil Trace Golf Course
Are you looking for some time to spend on the green, but want a different spin on it? Look no further than Fossil Trace Golf Course! This prehistoric 18-hole course is located just west of Denver. Considered one of the best golf courses in the area, this fossil hot spot houses Triceratops footprints and other impressive fossils can be enjoyed while you attempt that record-breaking birdie.
10. The Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience
The fossils may be millions of years old, but the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience just opened its doors on the 17th of July! As the newest addition to the prehistoric attractions in Colorado, we can’t wait to check this one out! Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience has 27 life-sized fossil cast features, as well as 16 animatronic dinosaurs, a theater, children’s learning center, and more!
Who didn’t dream of dinosaurs as a kid? Indulge your childlike imagination and check out these incredible prehistoric sites!