Gateway to the Past: The newly reopened visitor center includes life-size skeletons and bones as they were deposited nearly 150 million years ago.

Dinosaur National Monument/courtesy

Gateway to the Past: The newly reopened visitor center includes life-size skeletons and bones as they were deposited nearly 150 million years ago.

At Home: Dinosaur National Monument visitor center reopens after 5-year closure

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Dinosaur National Monument/courtesy

On Oct. 4, Dinosaur National Monument celebrated the opening of its new Quarry Visitor Center and Quarry Exhibit Hall.

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Dinosaur National Monument/courtesy

The new exhibit hall provides public access to more than 1,500 dinosaur bones found on the cliff face as they were deposited 149 million years ago.

— Now we can all channel our inner Fred Flintstone again. On Oct. 4, Dinosaur National Monument celebrated the opening of its new Quarry Visitor Center and Quarry Exhibit Hall, which has been closed because of structural issues since 2006. The opening coincides with the 96th anniversary of the creation of the original 80-acre Dinosaur National Monument.

“It was a great way to celebrate the original opening of the park,” says park superintendent Mary Risser, adding that funding for the project was provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “We’re excited to be able to provide access again for the public to this amazing resource.”

Making a perfect day outing from Steamboat Springs, the museum — in Jensen, Utah, off U.S. Highway 40 — features two new buildings: the 10,000-square-foot exhibit hall and the 7,000-square-foot visitor center. The visitor center offers a movie auditorium and exhibits designed to introduce visitors to the area’s natural resources, homesteading history, petroglyphs, geology, paleontology and rivers. Located over the site of the world-famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry, the new exhibit hall provides public access to more than 1,500 dinosaur bones found on the cliff face as they were deposited 149 million years ago. The hall also features exhibits and displays about the Jurassic environment and its inhabitants.

Before the reopening, the center’s most recent exhibits dated back to the mid-1980s. But during the past 25 years, new discoveries have resulted in even more exhibits, including three-dimensional, life-size skeletons of dinosaurs like a juvenile camarasaurus, a life-size allosaurus and the fossilized bones of a stegosaurus.

“It’s great to finally have it open again so people can step back in time,” says 30-year Dinosaur National Monument paleontologist Brooks Britt.

Info: www.nps.gov/dino, 435-781-7700

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Just outside Kremmling lies the Kremmling Cretaceous Ammonite Locality, the world’s largest ammonite field.

Ammonite Town USA?

Kremmling harbors world’s largest ammonite field

You don’t have to head all the way to Dinosaur to get a glimpse of the prehistoric past. Just outside Kremmling lies the Kremmling Cretaceous Ammonite Locality, the world’s largest ammonite field. Marine predators that became extinct 72 million years ago, ammonites were half-giant snail, half-squid creatures that lived in a primeval sea covering today’s Rockies. The Kremmling site has the world’s highest concentration of the fossils. To get there, turn east off U.S. Highway 40, 10 miles north of Kremmling (mile marker 174) onto Colorado Highway 25. After crossing Muddy Creek, bear left (northeast) on County Road 26 and go 3.5 miles to an unmarked dirt road. Park at the gate marked by a Kremmling Cretaceous Ammonite Research Area sign and hike up the hill.

Info: 970-724-3000

At Home, winter 2011-12

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