My son loves dinosaurs.
For his 6th birthday, all he has asked for is Jurassic Park this or Lego that, as long as the Lego set was about Jurassic Park. His birthday was also just after Thanksgiving this year. So for our family trip, we decided to take a big trip to the Dallas area over the holiday week to take him to see dinosaurs in Glen Rose, Texas specifically at Dinosaur World and Dinosaur Valley State Park that has fossilized dinosaur footprints along the river bed.
Dinosaur Valley State Park Visit
Dinosaur Valley State Park was our first stop. (Side note: It’s so amazing to me that there were dinosaurs in Glen Rose or roaming the Earth in general. wow!) There is a guard shack where you check-in. The per person fee is cheap(only $7 per adults and free for kids). Plus, there is a one room museum that we enjoyed while paying the entrance. It had some interesting displays and a cool mural depicting what the dinosaurs in Glen Rose might have looked like thousands of years ago. On the other side of the building are single toilet bathrooms which we were needing after our 1.5 hour drive!
Our First Hike
The rangers gave us a map and thankfully it was a beautiful day with lots of the fossilized footprints visible. They marked the best places to see the footprints so we parked and started our trek. First, we walked along the upper rim, past a pavilion, down the hill and along the river where we could see several footprints and enjoyed the views.
My sweet sister packed us a lunch for our day trip and we got to the park around 10:30 or 11. So after our hike, we went back up the little hill and settled into a picnic table. There are tables shaded by trees and some are not. It was slightly cool so we were happy to have a table in the sunshine.
Our Second Hike (on the other side of the creek)
After eating, my sweet husband had to catch a conference call in the car so the kids and I decided to hike the trail across the large creek. I had taken for granted all the years I grew up with my parents letting me explore being in the woods and crossing creeks, climbing big hills, and listening to crunching leaves beneath my shoes. At the start of the hike at the river’s edge, it all came back to me as my kids slip-slided on the slick rocks to get to the other shore.
The trail winded up a small hill, past a prairie-ish pasture with a much larger hill in the background- beautiful. We then went back down the initial hill to the edge of the water below. The amount of fossilized footprints were amazing. Not all of them were perfect Scooby Doo adventures tracks, but amazing none-the-less.
We spent lots of time looking at these imprints into history and also finding teensy tiny muscle shells strewn throughout. Finally, I convinced the kids to start our little trek back to the creek crossing. This time we stayed on the path less traveled along the riverbed. Again, we took off our shoes, rolled up our pants, and braved the “rapids.” LOL
Side Trip Into Town
My hardworking man had about 20 minutes left on the call so I drove all of us back into Glen Rose to find some pants for my little girl. Luckily, the Dollar General wasn’t far and they had pants I bought since most of hers got soaked in “The Mighty River Crossing of 2018.” (Too dramatic?)
Dinosaur World in Glen Rose, Texas Visit
Now we were ready for our big excursion to Dinosaur World. There are a couple different options for tickets and all kids entrances include the fossil dig. The tickets can be the Daily Rate, the Excavation Pass(includes the gem excavation bags), and Annual Passes. For our family, the Excavation Pass was right up our alley plus we splurged because this was our youngest’s big birthday trip and the main reason we chose the Dallas area as our destination. Be sure to check the prices here and see if there are any specials happening right now.
Dino Gem Excavation
First stop was the gem excavation area to see what treasures were in our bags of dirt. There is a slue to use and screens to dump the dirt in to clean off the treasures. It didn’t take more than 15-20 minutes so they didn’t get bored with this activity. Plus, they had a great time examining their loot.
The Dinosaur Trail
After collecting the stones in the little bags, we started the dinosaur trail. It was full of 100 + life-sized dinosaurs in Glen Rose. We loved seeing how big these creatures were compared to us. It was amazing to think these things roamed the earth and not just one or two. In front of each dinosaur(s) was a plaque with the name and information like where its bones were found and other facts.
Midway through the paved trail is a big pond with giant prehistoric statues surrounding it. When paying the entry ticket at the gift shop, you can also purchase fish food. I wasn’t sure what this was all about so I went ahead and got two little bags… should have gotten more, A LOT more. I’ve never seen so many Koi in one place at a time. It was a crazy feeding frenzy with some literally scooting on shore to grab a pebble of food. If Hitchcock had seen this, there would be a Birds sequel but instead just about fish. It was cool in a creepy kind of way.
Visiting the Museum
Finishing the end of the trail put us back at the gift shop/entrance. Attached to this building is the small museum. There was time between when we got back and when the fossil dig was to begin so we checked out the museum. It’s full of well displayed fossils and animatronics. I enjoyed the entire thing and loved seeing all the different fossils and bones etc. My kids are 7 years old and up so it wasn’t too scary for them but it might startle little bitties. They would most likely still enjoy it though.
There was a little bit of time left before the fossil dig would begin so we made good use of the adjacent huge playground and covered picnic area. The kids had a great time as there was play equipment suitable for all ages. Even this mamma decided to try the twisty turny covered slide. HA!
Now that the kids were thoroughly worn out from playing, they joined in the fossil dig. This is a free activity included with a kids admission ticket. A “guide” explain about digging through the sand boxes and each kid was given “archeology tools” to use to see if they could find their own dinosaurs in Glen Rose. They were all allowed to keep 3 of the things they found which included rocks, “arrow heads”, shark teeth, tiny fossils(yes one of my kids found one), and come other things. They spent a lot of time side by side with each other and other kids seeing what treasures they could find. It was so fun!
Recap of the Dinosaurs in Glen Rose, Texas
The whole day was SO fun. I never though I’d ever see a fossilized dinosaur footprint!!! We had tried going to this state park 9 years earlier, but the water was up so no prints were visible. It just worked out perfectly. Dinosaur World was so cool with so much packed in this place. Time with my family was perfect with everyone happy and amazed by exploring the world.
I highly recommend visiting Dinosaurs in Glen Rose to see history come alive! There are also several attractions nearby like the Creation Evidence Museum which offers archeological digs during the summer(for reals!!!), Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Big Rocks Park (a great swimming hole on the Paluxy River), and Barnard’s Mill Art Museum.