Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas
You can go wild when you make tracks for these central-Texas attractions.
Glen rose, Texas is the only place I know where you can look at prehistoric dinosaur tracks, then drive a few miles to a wildlife park filled with rare and endangered animals.
Located in the central part of the state, Glen Rose is an interesting place to spend a day, and it's not far from Dallas and Fort Worth.
Our excursion began at Dinosaur Valley State Park. This National Natural Landmark is famous worldwide for its fossilized tracks, created millions of years ago when lumbering dinosaurs roamed through what was once an ancient tidal flat lying along a shallow sea.
A small museum at the Visitor Center explains how the dinosaur footprints filled with sediment and hardened, then were scoured away by the Paluxy River, leaving just the imprints behind. It also introduces you to the dinosaurs that made the tracks and describes the area's geological history.
The first set of tracks were discovered here in 1909. They later were quarried and sent to New York's American Museum of Natural History in the late 1930s, but you can see a replica of them outside the museum.
To see dinosaur tracks, we headed to the river, which winds through the park. There are five track locations, and our favorite is the Main Track Site. We waded in the water or hopped across some rocks to view the tracks on limestone shelves along the bank. The number of visible footprints depends on the water level of the river, so it's a good idea to call ahead before visiting.
From Dinosaur Valley, we headed over to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, which includes 1,500 acres of savannas, canyons and hills. Divided into large pastures, it's home to 1,100 free-roaming native, exotic and endangered animals--cheetahs, black and white rhinos, wildebeests and scimitar horned oryxes, to name a few. There are 50 species in all!
While there are several ways to see the park, we started with the 9-mile Scenic Wildlife Drive Tour. With our windows rolled down and a free bag of food pellets, we were off on our interactive adventure.
Whenever we rumbled across a cattle guard, the sound alerted the animals in the area that it was feeding time. Antelopes (including rare species like blesboks and greater kudus), deer, Barbary sheep, ostriches, emus and llamas were among the animals that visited us for dinner. And I couldn't believe it when a young giraffe bent down and poked its head in our car!
Around the bend and up the hill is the Overlook, one of Fossil Rim's most scenic spots. A petting zoo, the Nature Store and the Overlook Cafe are nestled among trees atop the highest point in the park. The view from the cafe's deck is spectacular.
So, if you're passing through Texas, consider spending some time in Glen Rose. The animals that once roamed these parts and live here now are definitely worth the trip.
Before You Visit... Glen Rose is about 75 miles southwest of Dallas at the junction of U.S. Highway 67 and State Highway 144. Dinosaur Valley State Park is 6 miles west of Glen Rose. Take Highway 67 to Farm Road 205, go west for 4 miles to Park Road 59, then head north for 1 mile to the park headquarters.
The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $5 for those age 13 and older. Camping sites are available, including 46 RV sites with partial hookups. For more information call 1-254/ 897-4588.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is 8 miles southwest of Glen Rose, 2 miles south of Highway 67 on County Road 2008.
Visitors are admitted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; you must leave the grounds by 7 p.m. Admission is $16.95 for adults and $10.95 for children ages 3 to 11.
Overnight accommodations are available at The Lodge at Fossil Rim and Foothills Safari Camp. Rates range from $150 to $300 a night; breakfast is included.
For details call 1-888/775-6742.