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Before I get into this, there are a few things you should know about me relating to this:
- I LOVE dinosaurs. All things dinosaur, I love.
- I own two Jurassic Park shirts and wear them when I see dinosaur things. (Updatee 2020: I’m updating this a bit and am wearing a Jurassic Park shirt right now.)
- I’ve made it a goal to see as many dinosaur things in Utah as I can this summer. Bones, tracks, you name it.
- I love dinosaurs.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s go back in time millions of years on the Trail Through Time in Fruita, Colorado. Well, it’s technically on the side of I70, quite literally, but Fruita is probably the closest town.
If you want to see dinosaur bones, the Trail Through Time is probably the easiest place to do that if you’re passing through the area on a road trip or something. Just get off on the Rabbit Valley exit (there will be signs for the trail) and head over to the parking area.
This i a nice, easy hike, only about 1.5 miles round trip, that takes you through the little valley pointing out dinosaur bones in the rocks. Now, don’t expect fully intact dinosaur bones just laying on the ground. There aren’t any of those, but it’s still cool to see them in the rocks. I never would have noticed them if the signs weren’t there, like, at all.
There are signs along the trail pointing out other things as well, like a mining claim, different types of rock and soil, what dinosaurs were found where, how bones were found, and how some rock formations are made, like all the holes in rock walls out here. It’s from sand balls in case you’re wondering.
At the trailhead, you’ll find a few signs talking about the types of dinosaurs that used to live in Colorado and Southern Utah. You’ll also see a little bit of information about the dinosaur quarry in the area. You can go walk to it and see archeologists and paleontologists digging, but we didn’t find it. There aren’t clear directions to it other than “behind you,” so we went a little way but got too hot and turned around.
The trail is a loop, so you can go up first or across the bottom then over the top. We went up first to get that part out of the way, not that it’s super tough or anything. The first set of bones you come to is neck vertebrae (the first two pictures in the post) and they were kind of hard to spot, but once you see one, they’re very obvious.
They’re like big gray X’s in the brown rock. Eventually, you’ll come across a spine and that one is super obvious, just look behind the sign. I was reading it and couldn’t find the spine, but I’m just tall enough that the sign was blocking it. This is three pictures down. This was the most impressive set of bones, for sure. Though there are only a few sets, this is the coolest.
The hike is pretty easy and has very little elevation gain. There are a couple sections of the trail that are thin and maybe a little rocky, but most people should be able to do it without issue.
The scenery is nothing spectacular, I won’t lie. It’s typical of Southwest Colorado. You will be walking with the hum of semis on the interstate right next to you, daydreaming of wandering along the trail with dinosaurs and a river flowing by. Well, maybe not exactly that, but you will have the hum of the interstate at least.
Overall, I would say if you have any interest in dinosaurs and happen to be in the area, this is a nice, easy, quick stop along the interstate. I wouldn’t go too far out of my way for it though.
If you want more to do in the area, you can hike Dinosaur Hill, which is actually in Fruita, or you can head over the interstate overpass to Mcinnis Canyon National Conservation Area. It looks like there are some pretty neat hikes in here, but you will most likely need a high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle to get to a lot of it. There are camping options here, too.
What to bring on your trip
Hiking poles – These will be helpful on longer hikes that are on the steeper side. They’ll be good if you have bad knees for when you’re going downhill and will give you something to lean on going up the hills.
Snacks – These are more important for long hikes, but you never know when you’ll get hungry! I like EPIC bars (kind of like beef jerky but different), Sahale nut mix things, and Moon Cheese. There’s always the good old Clif Bars and trail mix, too.
Cozy Sweatshirt – I have a few different Patagonia sweatshirts and love them all. They’re great for layering in cold weather. I have two Re-tools, a Better Sweater, and a Synchilla. Sometimes you can find them on sale on REI or Backcountry. I also like to keep an eye out for them on Poshmark (use code REDAROUNDWORLD for $10 off your first purchase) and Mercari (you can save $10 with that link as well!) I’ve found some really good deals on both.
Sleeping pad – Gotta make the tent comfy! The one I have isn’t available anymore but this one is similar. It’s self-inflating and just needs a little help filling all the way. Buy the sleeping pad here.
Pillow – If you’re just driving, I’d just bring a regular pillow, but if you’re flying then renting a car, you might want a smaller pillow. This is a good non-inflatible option. Here is a good inflatable option.
Lantern – I love having a lantern for in the tent at night, reading in the dark, or going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The LuminAID is my favorite and you can charge your phone on it. Buy the LuminAID lantern here.
Tips for hiking the Trail Through Time:
- There is literally no shade here, so consider bringing a hat. Wear sunscreen, all that. There are a couple benches with roofs that have shade, but nothing on the trail.
- Set aside about an hour for the trail, more if you want to look for the quarry.
- There is a bathroom at the trailhead.
- If you can, look for the quarry. I didn’t see it, but it would be super cool (I think) too see some digging in action.
- Bring lots of water, even though it’s a short trail. Like I said, it’s a million degrees here.
- If you want to camp in the area, there are some campgrounds in Mcinnis Canyon. The easiest one to get to is Jouflas Campground.
Have you done the Trail Through Time? Do you want to? Have you seen dinosaur bones? Where?