Friday, June 12, 2015

Dinosaur Sites of Moab

Open Air Museums, Treat with Care

Copper Ridge Dinosaur Tracksite

The Copper Ridge site, north of Moab, features the tracks of a sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) and the theropod (meat eating dinosaur). The many different kinds and sizes of dinosaur tracks make Copper Ridge unique. The preservation of the tracks is fantastic, and this site is well worth a visit. There are tracks made by a sauropod (probably a Camarasaurus, Apatosaurus, or Diplodicus), as well as Allosaurus and small mammal tracks, all dating back to the Jurassic period. The BLM has placed interpretive signs in the area, and parking is less than 100 yards from the site.

How to get there: From Moab, go north on US Hwy 191 for 23 miles. Turn right ¾ miles past milepost 148. Cross the railroad tracks and follow signs south on the dirt road. It is 2 miles to the tracks from the highway. If coming from the north, (I-70), turn left ¼ miles past milepost 149 and continue south on the dirt road.


Dinosaur Stomping Grounds

A gradual up-hill 1.5 mile hike is required, 3 miles round trip. The pedestrian trail parallels a mountain bike trail then branches off, follow rock cairns to the Jurassic age tracksite.

How to get there: From Moab, go north on US 191 for 23 miles. Turn right 3/4 mile past milepost 148. Cross the railroad tracks and follow the main road for 1 mile. Take the right fork (left fork goes to the Copper Ridge Dinosaur Tracksite) and continue for just over half a mile to the North Klondike Mountain Biking Trailhead parking area. Trail departs from here.


Mill Canyon Dinosaur Bone Trail

Get a glimpse of an era when huge creatures roamed the earth. Dinosaur bone still encased in rock may be viewed in Mill Canyon by following a short nature trail near the Monitor and Merrimac trails. This is a short self-guided interpretive trail. There are signs along the way. Free pamphlets from the Dogwood BLM office, Moab information center and on

How to get there: Drive 15 miles north of Moab on Hwy 191, turn left onto a dirt road marked Mill Canyon. This road is just north of milepost 141. Cross railroad tracks. Proceed 0.6 miles on this dirt toad to a “Y” intersection. Keep left for 0.5 more miles to reach the intersection to the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Bone Trail. The trailhead will be 0.6 miles farther. The dirt road crosses a short sandy wash.


Poison Spider Dinosaur Tracksite

Two rock slabs with footprints of meat-eating dinosaurs are visible from the pull-out on Hwy 279 or the parking lot of the Poison Spider trailhead. One slab is at the base of the cliffs, a second slab is halfway down the slope, just above the cliff that drops down to the road. The lower slab contains the tracks of at least 10 different meat-eating dinosaurs, ranging in size from 17 inches to 5 feet at the hips. All of the animals appear to have been walking at speeds of 3 miles per hour.

How to get there: From the center of Moab, travel north on Hwy 191 for 5.9 miles and turn left on Hwy 279. Continue 6 miles to the Poison Spider trailhead. Parking lot is up on the top of the hill.


Willow Springs Dinosaur Tracksite

The Willow Springs stie features the tracks of theropods and ornithopods (three-toed dinosaur) and those from sauropods (long-necked dinosaur). The numerous tracks at this site were made about 165 million years ago by dinosaurs waling in the tide-lands of an inland sea that lay to the east of this area. The tracks are preserved in the hard sandstone of the Entrada Formation. Theses tracks have been exposed for numerous years, and the tracks are beginning to erode. The sauropod tracks may appear as only potholes to the general viewer, with the three-toed tracks being easier to see. The BLM has placed interpretive signs in the area.

How to get there: From Moab, go north on Hwy 191 for 12 miles. If coming from I-70, go south on Hwy 191 for 18.7 miles. The tracksite is 3.4 miles off of Hwy 191, on the Willow Springs Road. A wide loose sand wash will have to be crossed.

Localities like these are rare and need to be preserved for generations to come. Please be cautious and considerate when observing these dinosaur Bones and tracks. Do not walk on the actual fossils. Collecting vertebrate fossils from Public Lands is illegal and violators will be prosecuted. Any disturbing, casting, rubbing or pouring anything into the fossils, including tracks, is expressly forbidden under federal regulations [43 CFR 8365.1-59a0 910].

Help the BLM preserve these paleontological resources for future generations by treating them with respect and reporting looting or vandalism to a Bureau of Land Management ranger or other local authority. Contact BLM –Utah Moab Field Office at (435) 259-2100, 82 East Dogwood, Moab; US Forest Service Office at (435)259-7155, 755 N Main St., Moab.

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