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The Dinosaur Ridge Trail (W. Alameda Parkway)

This 1.5-mile trail along Alameda Parkway, between Rooney Road North and County Road 93 (see map), has hundreds of dinosaur tracks, a quarry of dinosaur bones, and interesting geologic features. To hike the Ridge will take between 1-2 hours and is about 2 miles round trip. 

Built by the City of Denver and maintained by the Friends of Dinosaur Ridge, West Alameda Parkway traverses the Dakota Hogback, which has locally been renamed “Dinosaur Ridge” by the USGS. The National Park Service has designated the area a National Natural Landmark, the state of Colorado has made it a Colorado Natural Area, and the Colorado Geological Survey recommends it as an official Point of Geologic Interest.

The trail has over 15 sites, each marked by an interpretive sign. Fossil sites, interesting rock sites, and scenic overlooks provide hints to the prehistory of Colorado’s Front Range.

The Dinosaur Tracksite
Originally uncovered accidently during the construction of West Alameda Parkway in 1937, the large tracksite was open for 52 years until the Friends of Dinosaur Ridge was formed to aid in preservation and protection of the footprints. Many tracks were vandalized or completely removed, though a single track found its way back in 2007 (this track and its story can be seen in the Trek Through Time exhibit).

Today, after an expansion of the main site in 1994, over 300 tracks have been identified. Of those at least half are periodically colored using charcoal by Dinosaur Ridge volunteers to help visitors see the tracks in the sandstone.

Dinosaur Ridge Geology
At the top of the Ridge, a switchback curve cuts through showing the geologic structure of the Hogback. Two scenic overlooks, east and west, are places to study the geology of the Front Range or to just sit back and enjoy the view. Interpretive signs at the curve highlight the Denver Basin, oil and gas production, the Golden Fault, and the uplift of the Rocky Mountains.

The Dinosaur Ridge Bone Quarry
Discovered in 1877 by Arthur Lakes and company, the Dinosaur Ridge Bone Site was originally referred to as Morrison Quarry Number Five. Of the 14 quarries in the area, only four actually produced bones – 1, 5, 8, and 10. 

Quarry Number 5 is the Dinosaur Ridge Bone Quarry, and was the site where the world’s first Stegosaurus was discovered. Several vertebrae, parts of limbs and pieces of the famous plates were uncovered and can now be seen on display at the Morrison Natural History Museum (see their link on the Contact Us section).

The bones exposed today at our interpretive site are most likely from Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus and washed into this small braided stream channel deposit likely during a rainy season flooding event. Our Bone Quarry is one of only a few locations where you can see and touch dinosaur bones in the rock where they fossilized long ago.

The bone site as seen from the road

 

*Volunteers needed!  Check out the volunteer information!


 

 

Dinosaur Ridge - 16831 W Alameda Pkwy., Morrison, CO 80465 - 303-697-3466
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