Monday, April 8, 2013

Fossilized Dinosaur Footprints... and the Critters That Left Them!

I mentioned in my last post that Nine Mile Canyon was only one of the three days we spent on this Spring Break trip last year.  This post will cover one of the other two.

Fossilized Dinosaur Footprints Near Moab Utah
Two sets of dinosaur footprints
This bed of fossilized dinosaur footprints actually has two sets--the obvious ones on the left and a smaller set near the top of the bed in the center-right.  Callie loves fossil hunting and she came up with the directions to these which are between Green River and Moab Utah.

Close Up of a Large Fossilized Dinosaur Footprint Near Moab Utah
Close up of one of the smaller prints
There were also quite a few single or double footprints at this site.  Above is a close up of one of them.

Close Up Picture of What is Possibly a Fossilized Utah Raptor Footprint
Close up of what is possibly a Utah Raptor footprint

The above picture is of a footprint of a 3-toed dinosaur, and since it is smaller it may have belonged to a Utah Raptor as opposed to a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Size Perspective on the Utah Raptor Fossilized Footprint with all of Our Feet in the Picture
Better size perspective on the Utah Raptor footprint
This picture with our feet in it gives you a better idea of the size of this footprint.  Notice the claw marks--they go pretty deep.

Fossilized Dinosaur Still In Tact from Head to Tail in Rabbit Valley Trail Through Time Colorado
Unexcavated dinosaur almost completely in tact
Just over the border into Colorado on I 70 we found some great unexcavated dinosaurs in the Rabbit Valley Trail Through Time.  Above you can see Kajsa examining some vertebrae.  Notice that the fossil starts at the marker above her and to the left and continues off the picture to the right.  This is one of the most spectacular fossils I have ever seen.  It is almost a complete dinosaur, from head to tail (the head was removed and put in a museum, but everything else is right out there in the open desert!)

Fossilized Dinosaur Vertebrae on the Rabbit Valley Trail Through Time Colorado
More dinosaur vertebrae
The Bureau of Land Management has created this trail and installed some information markers, but largely the area is left in its natural state.  Because of this, it truly makes you feel like you could be the first ones to discover them.  The trail is a loop that is about 1.5 miles long.  It is right on the side of the Interstate and very easy to get to. 

Fossilized Dinosaur Scapula in Rabbit Valley on the Trail Through Time Colorado
Callie getting a closer look
The other thing that was great about this site is that there are lots of fossils, not just one or two.  The list of dinosaurs found here is also very extensive, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Brachiosaurus, Camarasaurus, Ceratosaurus, Allosaurus, and Nodosaurus.  You would have to ask Callie to help you know which is which though...

3D Jeep Trail Near Hidden Canyon Northwes of Moab Utah
Don't do it dad!
When we are on trips, I always like to see how far off the beaten path I can go.  Sometimes the family wishes I had a little more common sense, and sometimes I do too!  The above picture is the beginning of a Jeep trail named 3D near Hidden Canyon northwest of Moab Utah.

Kids Walking Down the Sandy 3D Jeep Trail Near Moab Utah
If you are going to roll the car, do it alone!
Our car is all wheel drive and has pretty good clearance, so why not?  Well, as you can see in the picture above, the sand was very deep and the kids weren't going to risk riding with me if I was going to be foolish enough to drive it.  One more thing... I wasn't sure where this trail came out, or if it did, or if I could get back up if I had to.  Adrenaline baby!!

Hidden Canyon Jeep Trail is Beautiful, but Obviously Not for Cars
Beautiful, but obviously not doable in a car
Hidden Canyon--above--was a beautiful place to hike around for a little while on foot.  What you don't realize is that this is a road for Jeeps and that they do go down this.  Thankfully, I was able to find a different route.

View of Tire Tracks on Hidden Canyon Jeep Trail from Below
View of tire tracks on Hidden Canyon jeep trail from below
You can see the tire tracks (black marks) where Jeeps climb up and go down Hidden Canyon in the picture above.  I'm crazy, but not that crazy!

Fossilized Dinosaur Footprints at Sunset Near Moab Utah
I did find the way out before sunset
Well, in the end I was able to find (just barely) a way out of the Jeep trails and back to normal roads.  The kids still claim I nearly killed us, but I didn't even so much as put a single scratch on the car let alone get anyone hurt... And, guess what?  They are never going to forget this drive!

Pinion Pine and Red Rocks at Sunset Near Moab Utah
Pinion Pines and red rocks make for an iconic Utah sunset
As you can see, this was a full day and it was awesome!  If you ever get a chance to spend some time near Moab and Green River Utah, you will love it.  There are hundreds (no exaggeration) of other must-see things in this area, so if you would like some tips on what not to miss, just let me know.

This trip was only a few hour drive from our house, but like I said in my last post, I am positive that there are hidden treasures near where you live too.  Get out there and find them!


  1. We went to see all those tracks after Callie told us about them-so fun! It makes me wonder, though, how often we've been out hiking and not realized we were seeing dinosaur fossils because we had no idea what we were looking for.

  2. Great point Michelle. I think everyone just needs to take Callie with them wherever they go--I know it makes things much more fruitful for me ;-)