Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back on the road in Colorado (part 2)

Dinosaur Ridge

Dinosaur Ridge is one of the world's greatest dinosaur fossil sites and a National Natural Landmark. Located in Morrison, Colorado Dinosaur Ridge is an outdoor museum that was once home to the prehistoric Iguanadon. Its tracks can be found going up the side of the hill pictured here (mother and baby side by side).

Visitors can walk or bike Dinosaur Ridge for free or take the $3 shuttle bus. When you follow the road which cuts through the mountain you'll discover dinosaur footprints, bones, and fossils of prehistoric insects or plants which were embedded into the rock walls. There are signs along the way which indicate points of geological interest or give information about the plant life and fossils.
Starting in 1877, many of the first and best skeletons of Stegosaurus, ApatosaurusDiplodocus, Allosaurus, and other dinosaurs were excavated in 150-million-year-old rocks of the Morrison Formation on the west side of the ridge.

In 1989 geologists and paleontologists endeavored to have the site designated as a natural landmark, which they hoped would help preserve the fossils. The bones pictured above were left preserved in the rock. Visitors can get up close and actually touch the bones.
If you choose to walk, you can take a detour like I did and hike to the top of the mountain where you'll get a great view of the Red Rocks Amphitheater. Pick up a free map in the visitors center or speak to the very friendly and helpful staff before you head out on your own.

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