Colorado is known for its mountains, but it’s also known for something older, much older. James Michener’s novel “Centennial” began the book with a prehistoric history lesson. In the opening chapter, The Land, discusses the formation of the Earth, the Rockies and the area around what would eventually become Centennial, Colorado. In the next chapter, titled The Inhabitants, it includes stories about animals that possibly lived near what would eventually become the community of Centennial, from the dinosaur Diplodocus to the arrival of man. (Source: Wikipedia) What you may not know is that Colorado’s State Fossil is Stegosaurus. This dinosaur, which roamed Colorado during the late Jurassic Period (155-145 million years ago) is one of the most recognizable dinosaurs and is unique to our state, since some of the most important stegosaurus discoveries have been made right here in
Colorado. This plant-eater had a strong quill-tipped tail and distinctive plates running down its back-which is how it got the name stegosaurus, meaning “roof-lizard”. It’s thought that stegosaurus stood 14 foot tall, 30 feet long and tipped the scales at a whopping 6,000 pounds, approximately the dimensions of a school bus.
While you’re traveling around Colorado and planning your stay at one of our Official Colorado State Bed & Breakfast Association member inns, a trip to these Jurassic park places will offer a “Dino-mite” vacation getaway. Thanks to the Colorado Tourism Office, here are a few of the state’s well-known places to walk where dinosaurs once roamed.
Dinosaur National Monument (Dinosaur) is a top pick for Jurassic digs and brings out the childlike amazement in even the oldest adults. Inside the main visitor center, Dinosaur Quarry, visitors can see fossils from the world-famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry, where approximately 1,500 dinosaur bones are left in place in a cliff wall. The monument, located in northwest Colorado near on the Utah border, also has a number of self-guided trails to explore.
Dinosaur Journey Museum (Fruita/Grand Junction Area) The Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita is devoted to hands-on experiences — and even has robotic displays of the beasts that once called this area home. Interact with a stegosaurus, triceratops or T-rex and wander among the displays of real dinosaur bones from these and other thunder lizards. Nearby B&Bs: Four Mile Creek Bed & Breakfast (Glenwood Springs)
Plan a Colorado roadtrip along the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic and Historic Byway to see multiple dinosaur attractions in one journey.
Picketwire Canyonlands (La Junta) Take on gargantuan fossil tracks at the Picketwire Canyonlands south of La Junta. Here, visitors can feast their eyes on the nation’s largest collection of fossilized dinosaur footprints, as well as put their own tiny feet right inside them. The area boasts nearly 1,300 dinosaur tracks from as many as 100 different animals, all along just a half-mile stretch of the Purgatoire River. Nearby B&Bs: Tarabino Inn (Trinidad), Conejos River Guest Ranch (Antonito)
Denver Museum of Nature & Science (Denver) From the Prehistoric Journey exhibit and Dinosaur Gulch in the Discovery Zone to films and dino-themed events, The Denver Museum of Nature & Science provides a number of attractions for dinosaur lovers. The Prehistoric Journey exhibit welcomes you with an interactive battle between a gargantuan stegosaurus and an 80-foot-long diplodocus towering overhead. After seeing the battle, you can wander prehistoric habitats, view ancient plants and examine fossils from the museum touch carts. Nearby B&Bs: Castle Marne (Denver), Willow Tree Country Inn (Bennett),
Dinosaur Ridge (Morrison/Denver Area) Some of today’s most notorious dinosaurs were first discovered in Dinosaur Ridge near Morrison. Since these first-in-Colorado finds, Dinosaur Ridge has become one of the world’s most famous dinosaur fossil localities. Today, you can take daily self-guided and guided tours of excavation sites and exposed fossils. For a special treat, the road is closed once a month for Dinosaur Discovery Days, when you can take guided tours to view the tracks, bones and other spectacular examples of geology and paleontology without the distraction of passing traffic. Nearby B&Bs: The Silver Lake Lodge (Idaho Springs), Hitching Post Bed & Breakfast (Eagle/Vail area) Bears Inn Bed & Breakfast (Evergreen)
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument (Florissant/Pikes Peak Area) Take a different look at the earth’s prehistoric life at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, just west of Pikes Peak near Cripple Creek and Colorado Springs. Here, enormous petrified redwoods and detailed fossils of ancient insects and plants tell a story of Colorado’s past. The enormity of fossils in the area can be credited to gigantic volcanic eruptions that quickly buried the then-lush valley.
Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center (Woodland Park/Pikes Peak Area) Learn everything you wanted to know about prehistoric lizards at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park. Featuring some of the most spectacular dinosaurs, the resource center also has marine reptiles, flying reptiles and fish of North America’s late Cretaceous Period on display. Nearby B&Bs: Edgewood Inn and Pikes Peak Paradise (Woodland Park), Carr Manor (Cripple Creek), Crescent Lily Inn, Holden House 1902 B&B Inn, Old Town Guesthouse (Colorado Springs), Avenue Hotel Bed & Breakfast and Blue Skies Bed & Breakfast (Manitou Springs)