We drove 70 miles from Ellis County to arrive thousands of years in the past at our destination—Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas. This park has something for all ages beginning with a greeting by dinosaurs ready for photo ops as visitors drive into the park.
Sauropod and Theropod tracks can be found in different sites throughout the park. The largest site, the Ballroom, is named because of the numerous directions in which the tracks appear. Time of the year and water level affect how easily all tracks can be seen. The Ballroom tracks are most easily seen when the Paluxy River water level is low. The Blue Hole is a small area, but tracks can often be seen from the bank, a benefit for visitors who do not want to get wet. The Main site is on the opposite side of the river from the parking lot; however, unless the water level is very high, it is possible to step on large rocks to avoid the water and arrive, still dry, at the tracks. These tracks are more visible when the water level is somewhat higher because mud does not build up in them. (Go to the park’s Facebook page for more information about track visibility and trail openings at https://www.facebook.com/dinosaurvalleypark/)
Dinosaur Valley State Park is not just about dinosaurs, though. How many children (and adults) have “accidentally” slipped into the water while crossing to see the tracks? Visitors do not have to slip. You can tell by watching, that many people come in their bathing suits ready to spend time in the cooling waters of the river. The even better prepared visitors bring picnics and coolers and get ready to spend a day wading, swimming, and hiking. Of course, there are camping and RV sites, but visitors can get a day pass and spend as long as they wish.
We have been to Dinosaur Valley many times over the years. Since we started hiking, we have been twice and been very pleasantly surprised. The first hiking day was constrained to the parking side of the river because of mud on the far banks. We walked several hours and had relatively flat terrain unless we chose to detour by the water’s edge. One portion of our hike was along a paved trail that held a special surprise for children. Along the path were books, one going each direction, with the pages all along the way to keep children interested in the path and motivated to move forward. (My husband and I also looked forward to finishing the books by the end of the path.)
Our next hiking trip took us over the river for a very different hiking experience. After we found the trail, which was the only difficulty in the day, we discovered changes in elevations, scenic views of the river, and well-defined paths. We enjoyed the picturesque panoramas of the river from the craggy bluffs above it. There were some steep climbs up rocky paths, but the total elevation gain was only 269 feet during our almost six-mile hike. The park provided excellent choices as to the difficulty level of hikes.
The park allows horses and mountain bikes among other activities. Visitors can also fish or simply loll by the river and enjoy the views. History lovers can read about the dinosaurs that once roamed freely in the valley and about the moonshine that was produced in the area. (Did you know that Glen Rose was once known as the “Moonshine Capital of Texas?”)
Have you been to Dinosaur Valley State Park? If so, what was your favorite part?
– Candace Ahlfinger has loved traveling since she was little and has always been on the go whenever possible. Now she is retired and gets to do what she loves best… TRAVEL! Whether it’s traveling with her wonderful husband, or our children and grandchildren, traveling is a great experience that enriches her life. Because she always enjoys reading and hearing about others’ travel experiences, she wants to share her travels with the Ellis DownHome readers.