During our Christmas, 2017 trip, we stopped by Dinosaur Valley State Park. I had read about this place, a Texas state park not far from Fort Worth, where you can actually take a short hike and see dinosaur tracks in the rocks. It sounded intriguing (and honestly, a little too cool to be true), so I mentally filed it away in my brain as a “we should stop by if we’re passing through” kind of place.
Dinosaur Valley State Park is located in Glen Rose, Texas, about 57 miles southwest from Fort Worth, and if you’re traveling from Fort Worth to Junction, Texas, by way of highways, you will pass straight through.
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I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting as we pulled into the state park, but large dinosaur statues definitely wasn’t it. But they were so fun! It immediately got me, and everyone else, excited about being there, and hopeful that we would get to see maybe a fossilized footprint or two. A quick stop at the visitors center made it seem pretty straight forward: they pointed us in the direction of a parking lot. We were to park there, and take this unassuming trail to a river bed. We were told that was where the fossils are, and since the water was relatively low, we should be able to see plenty. No further explanation. Um, ok.
So, we park, get out, stretch our legs, and see a staircase that we rightly assumed would lead us to where we wanted to go. We filed down the stairs and started walking from rock top to rock top, and there, right there, in the water… were dinosaur tracks! We were expecting a special boardwalk with a cordoned off area and blaring signs saying things like, “ANCIENT DINOSAUR FOSSILS! KEEP OFF!” But nothing of the sort existed. There were a few roped areas, with signs, but none of them were like the large wooden railings you find at places like Yellowstone. Of course, it is worth mentioning that the water at Dinosaur Valley State Park won’t kill you if you fall in (like it will at Yellowstone), but the few ropes and signs we noticed weren’t really that big of a deal. I guess it’s probably because we were actually in the river, so fancy boardwalks and the like really aren’t practical.
It was just us, standing on rocks, looking down at actual dinosaur tracks. There was nothing but our good manners and common sense keeping us from touching them (and I promise, we absolutely did not touch them). I’m not sure who was most impressed—the kids or the adults. None of us had ever seen anything like this and we kept shouting to one another, “hey, look! There are more over here!” I couldn’t stop taking photographs!
We are definitely glad we stopped. This experience is one that we still talk about with one another, and encourage others to go and visit. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. Absolutely take your camera and wear good, waterproof boots with solid soles. They also have a campground, but we moved on. We were hungry, and decided we also wanted to have more miles behind us before we stopped for the night. But, from what we saw, the entire park looked great and well maintained, which I have noticed is the standard for Texas state parks: they do things first class all the way.
If you’ve ever been to Dinosaur Valley State Park, tell me about your thoughts and experience in the comments section!