Are you fascinated by the prehistoric era and the mighty dinosaurs that once roamed the earth? If yes, then Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas is the perfect destination for you. Nestled in the scenic Paluxy River Valley, this park is a haven for dinosaur enthusiasts, adventure-seekers, and nature lovers alike. In this article, we will take you on a journey through time and space to explore the wonders of Dinosaur Valley State Park.
Dinosaur Valley State Park is a 1,524-acre park located in Somervell County, Texas. The park is known for its stunning natural beauty, hiking trails, camping facilities, and most importantly, its dinosaur tracks. The park is home to some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the world, dating back to the Cretaceous period, about 113 million years ago. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of these prehistoric giants and experience the thrill of being transported to a bygone era.
History of Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park is a popular destination for those interested in prehistoric history, but the park’s own history is also quite interesting. The park was established in 1968 and covers more than 1,500 acres in Somervell County, Texas. The park was created in response to the discovery of dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy Riverbed, which runs through the park.
The tracks were first discovered in the early 1900s by local residents, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the significance of the tracks was fully recognized. In 1968, the state of Texas purchased the land and established Dinosaur Valley State Park. Since then, the park has become a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, drawing in visitors from around the world who are interested in seeing the park’s unique dinosaur tracks and learning about the area’s rich history.
In addition to the dinosaur tracks, the park is home to a variety of other natural wonders, including a dense forest, rugged hills, and a variety of wildlife. Visitors can explore the park’s trails, camp overnight, and take advantage of the park’s many amenities, including picnic areas, playgrounds, and a swimming pool.
Over the years, the park has undergone numerous improvements and expansions. In the 1970s, a new park headquarters was constructed, and in the 1980s, the park’s facilities were upgraded to include a visitors’ center and interpretive displays. More recently, the park has added new hiking trails and improved its camping facilities to better accommodate visitors.
Entrance Fees and Other Costs
The cost of visiting the park depends on a few factors, including the season, age of visitors, and type of activities. Here’s a breakdown of the fees:
- Day Use: The entrance fee for day use is $8 for adults (age 13 and up) and free for children 12 and under. Texas residents who are 65 or older can enter for free on weekdays.
- Camping: The camping fee ranges from $20 to $30 per night, depending on the type of campsite and season. Texas residents who are 65 or older receive a discount on camping fees.
- Group Camping: The group camping fee ranges from $50 to $75 per night, depending on the size of the group and the season.
- Cabins: The cost to rent a cabin ranges from $80 to $150 per night, depending on the season and day of the week.
In addition to these fees, there may be additional charges for certain activities or programs, such as guided tours or special events. It’s best to check the park’s website or contact them directly for more information about specific activities and fees.
It’s worth noting that some discounts may be available for Texas residents, seniors, and active military personnel. Additionally, annual passes are available for $70 and allow unlimited entry to all Texas state parks for a year.
Activities at Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park offers a wide range of activities that are suitable for visitors of all ages. From exploring the prehistoric past to enjoying the natural beauty of the park, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the most popular activities to do at the park:
Dinosaur Track Viewing
Dinosaur Valley State Park is home to an incredible collection of dinosaur tracks, which are preserved in the park’s limestone riverbed. The park offers visitors a chance to view the tracks up close and learn about the park’s fascinating history and geology.
To find the tracks, head to the Paluxy Riverbed that runs through the park. You can access the riverbed via the park’s designated trails. Once you reach the riverbed, keep your eyes peeled for the dinosaur tracks made by two types of dinosaurs: theropods and sauropods. The former left three-toed footprints, while the latter left larger tracks with four toes. Visitors can observe a variety of tracks in the riverbed, including those of baby dinosaurs and large adults.
The best time to view the dinosaur tracks is when the water level in the river is low. This usually occurs during the summer months, but it can vary depending on weather conditions. To ensure you get the best view possible, wear sturdy shoes and be prepared to walk on uneven terrain in the riverbed. It’s also important to stay on the designated trails and not disturb the tracks in any way. Additionally, visitors should be aware of the potential for flash floods during periods of heavy rain.
Hiking and Biking Trails
The park is not just known for its dinosaur tracks, but also for its beautiful trails. It has over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, ranging from easy to challenging levels. Visitors can explore the park’s various ecosystems, including river bottoms, hardwood forests, and rocky hillsides.
One of the most popular trails is the Blue Hole Trail, which leads to the park’s swimming hole. The trail is about 1.5 miles long and is easy to navigate. The trailhead is located near the park store, and it takes visitors through beautiful cedar forests and over a small creek before reaching the Blue Hole.
For those looking for a more challenging hike, the Cedar Brake Trail is a 4.5-mile loop that takes visitors through some of the park’s most beautiful and remote areas. The trailhead is located near the park’s campground, and it takes visitors through rocky hillsides and hardwood forests.
Bikers can also enjoy the park’s trails, with several routes designated for mountain biking. The trails range from easy to difficult, and visitors are encouraged to check the park’s website for trail conditions before heading out.
Whether hiking or biking, visitors to Dinosaur Valley State Park can experience the park’s natural beauty and explore its diverse ecosystems.
Camping at Dinosaur Valley State Park is a popular activity for visitors who want to experience the park’s natural beauty up close. With a range of camping options available, including tent camping, RV camping, and group camping, there is something for everyone.
The park has four campgrounds, which can accommodate a total of 150 campsites. All sites have a picnic table, a fire ring, and a grill. Drinking water and restrooms with showers are also available at each campground.
For tent camping, there are two campgrounds available: Cedar Ridge and Old Horse. Cedar Ridge has 44 campsites, and Old Horse has 25 campsites. Both campgrounds are located near the river and offer a serene environment for campers.
For RV camping, Dinosaur Valley State Park has two campgrounds: the full-hookup campground and the water-only campground. The full-hookup campground has 47 campsites with water, electric, and sewer hookups. The water-only campground has 34 campsites with water hookups.
For group camping, the park has a separate campground called the Primrose group campground, which can accommodate up to 75 people. It is located near the river and has picnic tables, fire rings, and a large pavilion.
Fishing and Swimming
Dinosaur Valley State Park not only offers opportunities for hiking and exploring, but it is also a great destination for fishing and swimming enthusiasts. The park features two main bodies of water, the Paluxy River and the Blue Hole.
The Paluxy River is ideal for fishing, where visitors can catch various species of fish such as bass, catfish, and sunfish. Fishing is allowed year-round, but visitors must have a valid Texas fishing license to participate.
On the other hand, the Blue Hole is a picturesque swimming hole in the park that offers a refreshing experience during hot summer months. The crystal-clear water is inviting for swimmers, and visitors can also enjoy sunbathing and picnicking in the area. It’s important to note that the water level in the Blue Hole can vary throughout the year, depending on the amount of rainfall in the area.
It’s important to take safety precautions when swimming or fishing at Dinosaur Valley State Park. Always wear a life jacket when participating in water activities, and be aware of any potential hazards such as fast-moving currents or sudden drop-offs. With proper safety measures in place, visitors can enjoy a fun and relaxing time fishing or swimming in the park’s beautiful natural surroundings.
In addition to recreational activities, Dinosaur Valley State Park offers several educational opportunities for visitors of all ages. The park has a visitor center that features exhibits on the park’s geology, paleontology, and natural history. There are also educational programs and guided hikes offered throughout the year, led by knowledgeable park rangers.
One of the most popular educational activities is the Dino Dig, where visitors can join park staff in a simulated dinosaur dig and learn about the tools and techniques used in paleontology. The Dino Dig is a fun and interactive way to learn about the science of paleontology and the history of the park’s dinosaur tracks.
Dinosaur Valley State Park offers a variety of ranger programs that provide visitors with the opportunity to learn more about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife. These programs are designed to be fun and educational for visitors of all ages, and are led by knowledgeable and passionate park rangers. Here are some of the ranger programs you can participate in at Dinosaur Valley State Park:
- Guided Hikes – The park rangers offer guided hikes on several of the park’s trails, including the Paluxy River Trail and the Blue Hole Trail. These hikes are a great way to learn about the park’s geology and wildlife, and to get some exercise at the same time.
- Junior Ranger Program – This program is designed for kids ages 7-12 and offers a range of activities and challenges that teach them about the park’s history and natural resources. Kids who complete the program receive a Junior Ranger badge and certificate.
- Fossil Hunting – The park rangers lead guided fossil hunting expeditions where visitors can learn about the park’s paleontology and search for their own fossils to take home.
- Night Hikes – The park rangers offer night hikes where visitors can explore the park’s trails and observe nocturnal wildlife. These hikes are a unique and exciting way to experience the park after dark.
- Campfire Programs – The park rangers lead campfire programs where visitors can learn about the park’s history, wildlife, and geology while roasting marshmallows and enjoying the company of fellow campers.
These are just a few of the many ranger programs offered at Dinosaur Valley State Park. The park rangers are passionate about their work and are always happy to share their knowledge and expertise with visitors. Be sure to check the park’s website or ask a park ranger for more information about the ranger programs available during your visit.
Tips for Visiting Dinosaur Valley State Park
If you’re planning a trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park, here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit:
- Plan ahead: Before you head to the park, be sure to check the weather forecast and plan your visit accordingly. It’s also a good idea to make reservations for camping or any other activities you plan to participate in.
- Wear comfortable clothing and footwear: The park’s trails can be rocky and uneven, so it’s important to wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots. Be sure to dress for the weather and wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely.
- Bring sunscreen and insect repellent: The park is located in a wooded area, so be sure to protect yourself from the sun and bugs by bringing sunscreen and insect repellent.
- Bring plenty of water and snacks: It’s important to stay hydrated while exploring the park, especially during the hot summer months. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks to keep your energy levels up.
- Respect the park’s natural resources: Dinosaur Valley State Park is home to a variety of plant and animal species, so it’s important to respect the park’s natural resources by staying on designated trails and not disturbing any plants or animals.
- Learn about the park’s history and wildlife: The park offers a variety of ranger-led programs and interpretive displays that can help you learn more about the area’s rich history and diverse wildlife.
- Take advantage of the park’s amenities: The park offers a variety of amenities, including picnic areas, playgrounds, and a swimming pool. Be sure to take advantage of these facilities to make your visit as enjoyable as possible.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your visit to the park is both enjoyable and informative. Whether you’re interested in exploring the park’s unique dinosaur tracks or simply enjoying the beauty of the natural world, there’s something for everyone at this incredible park.
Park Etiquette and Safety
While there are many things to enjoy at Dinosaur Valley State Park, there are also some things to avoid in order to help preserve the natural environment and ensure a safe and enjoyable visit for all. One important thing to avoid is disturbing or removing any natural features, including rocks, fossils, or vegetation.
It’s also important to follow all park rules and regulations, including staying on designated trails and not feeding wildlife. Visitors should also avoid leaving any trash or litter behind and should pack out all of their belongings, including food and drink containers.
Finally, visitors should be aware of the potential for extreme weather conditions, such as heat or flash flooding, and should take appropriate precautions to stay safe. By following these guidelines, visitors can help protect the park and ensure a positive experience for all who visit.
Cabin Amenities and Reservations
Dinosaur Valley State Park offers visitors a range of lodging options, including cabins. These cabins are perfect for those who want to stay overnight in the park but don’t want to camp in a tent or RV. The Cedar Sage camping area, which is located near the river and the park’s hiking trails, is where the cabins are situated.
The cabins at Dinosaur Valley State Park come equipped with air conditioning and heating, electricity, and outdoor grills. They also feature beds, tables, and chairs. Bed linens, pillows, and towels are not provided, so guests must bring their own. The cabins can accommodate up to six people, with one double bed and two sets of bunk beds.
Reservations for the cabins can be made up to five months in advance, and it’s essential to book early, especially during peak season, as they can fill up quickly. Check-in time is 3:00 pm, and check-out time is 11:00 am. Late check-out may be available for an additional fee.
Pets are not allowed in the cabins. Rates for the cabins vary depending on the season and day of the week, with discounts available for Texas residents and seniors.
Staying in a cabin at Dinosaur Valley State Park is an excellent way to experience the park’s beauty and wonder while enjoying the comfort and convenience of indoor lodging. Whether you’re planning a family vacation or a romantic getaway, the cabins at Dinosaur Valley State Park are sure to provide an unforgettable experience.
Hotels Near Dinosaur Valley State Park
If you’re planning a visit to Dinosaur Valley State Park and need somewhere to stay nearby, there are several hotel options within a short distance from the park. Here are some of the hotels near Dinosaur Valley State Park:
- Best Western Dinosaur Valley Inn & Suites – This hotel is located less than a mile from the park and offers a range of amenities, including an outdoor pool, hot tub, fitness center, and complimentary breakfast.
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Glen Rose – This hotel is located just over a mile from the park and features an indoor pool, fitness center, and complimentary breakfast.
- La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Glen Rose – This hotel is located just over a mile from the park and offers a range of amenities, including an outdoor pool, fitness center, and complimentary breakfast.
- Glen Rose Inn & Suites – This hotel is located just over a mile from the park and features an outdoor pool, hot tub, and complimentary breakfast.
- Country Woods Inn – This bed and breakfast is located less than 3 miles from the park and offers a unique and cozy lodging option. Guests can choose from a variety of themed rooms and enjoy a homemade breakfast each morning.
These are just a few of the many lodging options near Dinosaur Valley State Park. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly hotel or a unique bed and breakfast experience, there’s sure to be an option that fits your needs and budget.
Dinosaur Valley State Park Hours
It’s important to know the park’s operating hours so that you can plan your visit accordingly. The park is open seven days a week, year-round, from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. During the summer months, the park may offer extended hours for certain events or activities.
It’s worth noting that the park’s hours may be subject to change due to weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances. It’s always a good idea to check the park’s website or call ahead before your visit to confirm the park’s hours of operation.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the park may have different hours for its various amenities and activities. For example, the park’s swimming area may have different hours than its hiking trails. Be sure to check the park’s website or ask a park ranger for specific information about the hours of the activities you’re interested in.
By knowing the park’s hours of operation and the hours of the specific activities you want to participate in, you can make the most of your visit to Dinosaur Valley State Park.
Dinosaur Valley State Park is a fascinating and unique destination that offers visitors an opportunity to travel back in time and explore the wonders of the prehistoric era. From hiking along the scenic trails to swimming in the Paluxy River, there are plenty of activities to keep visitors of all ages entertained.
Whether you’re a dinosaur enthusiast, nature lover, or adventure-seeker, Dinosaur Valley State Park is a must-visit destination. So pack your bags, grab your hiking boots, and get ready for an unforgettable Jurassic adventure in the heart of Texas.
- Can I touch the dinosaur tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park?
No, it’s important to stay on designated trails and avoid touching or removing any rocks or fossils to avoid damaging the park’s natural resources.
- Is swimming allowed in the Paluxy River at Dinosaur Valley State Park?
Yes, swimming is permitted in the river, but visitors should exercise caution and be aware of the swift currents.
- Are pets allowed in the park?
Yes, pets are allowed in the park but must be kept on a leash at all times and are not allowed in the river.
- Do I need a fishing license to fish in the Paluxy River at Dinosaur Valley State Park?
Yes, visitors must have a valid Texas fishing license to fish in the river.
- Are guided tours available at Dinosaur Valley State Park?
Yes, the park offers educational programs and guided hikes led by knowledgeable park rangers.