Remember as a kid digging for buried treasure in your backyard? Or perhaps you hoped to uncover the petrified bones of some ancient creature? Satisfy your childhood dreams and take the dinosaur-lovers of your family, young or old, to the fossil-rich town of Fruita, Colorado, along the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway!
At the Dinosaur Journey Museum in downtown Fruita, walk beside articulated skeletons, scale reproductions, and robotic models of dinosaurs, from the formidable Triceratops to the tiny Fruitadens, which weighed less than a house cat and was first discovered just outside Fruita. Make your own dinosaur tracks in a sandbox, or experience the teeth-chattering rumblings of an earthquake in the earthquake simulation room. At the children's quarry, your kids can play the role of a paleontologist and dig for actual dinosaur bones. If you're interested in the more scientific aspect of paleontology, watch as experts in the museum laboratory clean and prepare dinosaur bones and fossils for display.
The very hills around Fruita are rich with prehistoric remains. In addition to Fruitadens, fossils of Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) excelus and Brachiosaurus altithorax, two of the largest land animals to ever walk the earth, were uncovered here. Follow the 0.8-mile interpretive trail at Riggs Hill, between Fruita and Grand Junction, Colorado, and see where paleontologist Elmer Riggs extracted the first full-sized skeleton of Brachiosaurus in 1900. A one-mile interpretive trail at Dinosaur Hill just south of Fruita highlights the site where he unearthed one of the finest examples of Apatosaurus.
For more information about the Dinosaur Journey Museum and other museums in the area, visit the Museum of Western Colorado website. The museum also offers guided expeditions to fossil sites, where you and your kids can assist experts at a real working dig.
- Public domain. Photo by aschweigert at Flickr.com
- Copyright © January 2002 Dinosaur Diamond.
- Copyright © July 2008 Nicholas Kimball.