Explore Colorado: Dinosaur Ridge

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Jennifer Broome heads to Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison.

Head just 20 minutes west of Denver and you can walk in the steps of dinosaurs.  It really is a trek through time at Dinosaur Ridge, just off Alameda Parkway in Morrison.  Dinosaur Ridge is famous for its tracks site.  There are over 320 tracks from different types of dinosaurs in a fairly small area.  The tracks are easy to see and there’s even one area where you can literally walk in the footprints of dinosaurs.  A hundred million years ago, instead of the ridge and foothills that are there now, the area was a flat sandy beach with rivers flowing into the ocean.

At one, about 92 million years ago, everything in Colorado was underwater.  There’s proof of that with ripple marks at Dinosaur Ridge and you can also find seashells in the Morrison and Golden areas, among other spots in Colorado.

On the other side of the ridge, which is right across from the 300 million year old Red Rocks, is an area where you can see the evidence of rivers that were like braided rivers in a swamp or bog area that flowed into the ocean.  You can see the stream channels, bones in boulders and rocks, and even a cross section view, or sideways view, of dinosaur footprints.  The sandstone on the river side of the ridge is finer than the tracks site side.

Just a short drive away and right across from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden is the 1.5 mile Tricertops Trail.  On the trail, you can climb in and out of the areas that were clay pits that have been mined.  Left of the sandstone, you can see entire ecosystems from plant fossils to even some T-Rex tracks.  It’s free to visit the Triceratops Trail.  Just make sure you are wearing comfy shoes and clothes for the walk in and out of pits.

At Dinosaur Ridge, shuttle bus tours last 45 minutes.  The tour is $4 for ages 4 and up.  Entry into the exhibit hall at the visitor center is $1 for ages 4 and up.  Children ages 3 and under are free for both.

Summer camps are back this year at Dinosaur Ridge.  They are offered several weeks this summer.  Cost is $275 for members and $300 for non-members.  Yearly family memberships are $40 and individual is $25.

If you want a great hike, then head up on the Dakota Ridge Trail on top of Dinosaur Ridge.  It’s about 2.2 miles from the trailhead at Dinosaur Ridge over to the parking lot near I-70.  Just watch out for rattlesnakes along the top of the ridge, just like you’ll find hiking in other spots like Green Mountain and even in Red Rocks Park.

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