Dinosaur Ridge is situated in Jefferson County, Colorado and is part of the Dakota Hogback. It’s also a national natural landmark and is near to the town of Morrison and just west of Lakewood and Denver.
The dinosaur fossils in Dinosaur Ridge are pretty well-known. The excavation began in 1877 under the supervision of paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh.
Some of the most famous dinosaurs are native here, including Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus & Allosaurus.
In 1973, the area was recognized for its uniqueness and scientific significance when it was designated the Morrison Fossil Area National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.
The Friends of Dinosaur Ridge was established in 1989 to address the increasing rates of degradation here, as well as give educational programs about the local resources.
The rocks on the west side of Dinosaur Ridge are part of a Jurassic layer called the Morrison Formation. In 1877, they were there Arthur Lakes discovered the bones from a dinosaur. During his expedition, Lakes opened fifteen quarries along a hill – named “Dakota hogback” by General Custer – that sits near the fortress-like Dakota Sandstone outcrops.
Rocks on Dinosaur Ridge are from an old part of the world that is now a park. When a new road was being built back in 1937, workers made a discovery. Nearly 500 foot prints were found by them and they believed them to belong to dinosaurs.
Some footprints that were found resemble those of iguanads or Eolambia. Carnivorous theropod tracks were also present on the ground.
Read more: Sloan Lake near Lakewood CO
The site has a Dinosaur Exhibit Hall with info about the dinosaurs that have been found at this site.
You can learn a ton of interesting facts about local geology, volcanic ash beds, trace fossils, and other cool stuff at the Dinosaur Ridge site.
Where I-70 goes through Dinosaur Ridge
In 2011, a new National Natural Landmark was formed from two other sites. It’s now the Morrisson-Golden Fossil Areas.
The exhibits are located in a closed section of West Alameda Ave. It’s about 2 miles round-trip, so you’ll take about 2 hours to complete the route.
- Walk Through Time Trail
- Museum (elevation 5,975 feet (1,821 m))
- Western Interior Seaway
- Rooney Ranch
The mangrove swamp is a slimy beach with plenty of microscopic life. The shoreline becomes very heavy during high tide so the area was flooded over time to form a marsh. As the area was submerged, it fossilized and became gray.
There’s an external force behind the degradation seen in depressed areas, such as a dinosaur’s footprint. The formation of ripple marks can also show accelerating water currents.
Dinosaur Tracks at Dinosaur Ridge, Colorado
Dinosaur tracks are some of the oldest footprints that exist on earth. You can tell what kind of dinosaur made them by looking at the shape of the marks. These particular ones are from an Iguanodon, which was a herbivore that walked on two legs sometimes on four.
They did not have claws on their feet. The large footprint next to the smaller ones gives credence to the theory that they were parents.