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.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back on the road in Colorado (part 1)

Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

It's great to be back on the road again with the wind in my hair and the rocks in my shoes! There's so much to do in Colorado and so little time. With the beautiful scenery and all the outdoor activities to choose from it's hard to decide what to do first. But what should you do if the weather is bad? How about a trip to Lookout Mountain to visit the grave of Buffalo Bill?! Its located in Golden, Colorado and just a short 30-minute drive from downtown Denver.

At Buffalo Bill's request, he was buried at the top of scenic Lookout Mountain in 1917, overlooking the Great Plains and the Rockies. The short trails to view the overlook and grave are free and you can also stop in the gift shop (which is like a museum in itself) and taste some great homemade fudge.

Right next door is the Buffalo Bill Museum. Adult admission is only $4 and worth every penny. From the look of the museum from the outside, I wasn't expecting much but to my surprise, the museum was much larger than it appeared and loaded with artifacts, photographs and information about the legendary icon of the Old West, William F. Cody a.k.a "Buffalo Bill." 

I think I also expected the museum to be something like the gift shop which just filled with wall to wall stuff but the exhibit was very well organized and had nice three-dimensional dioramas and displays.

The museum includes exhibits about Buffalo Bill's life and the Wild West shows, Indian artifacts (including Sitting Bull's bow and arrows), Western Art and firearms. There's also a fun kids area where you can play little interactive games, lasso a calf or dress up like a cowboy.

The information was presented in the form of a timeline chronicling his life. I found this to be an organized and great way to present the details of his life which were truly fascinating but the timeline was way too long. I suppose it's hard to edit the details of a life so rich with experiences ranging from buffalo hunting, working on a wagon train, mining for gold, riding for the Pony Express and unknowingly enlisting in the Army after a night of too much drinking! Unfortunately, there was just too much to read and I noticed none of the other visitors got more than halfway through reading all the pages of the timeline.
Overall, I was really impressed with this little mountain top museum and the fudge was delicious. Also, don't forget to stop in the restroom on your way out where you'll find even more photographs and facts about Buffalo Bill and his Wild West shows!