Texas is for Dinosaurs

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by txplants, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    My holiday family commitments met Thanksgiving evening, I departed early Friday morning for a camping trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, Texas.
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    For several years I’ve wanted to see what are reportedly some of the best preserved dinosaur tracks in the state of Texas. From Houston, the ride was uneventful taking Hwy. 290 West to Hwy. 6, then north through College Station, Hearne, Calvert, Waco, to Meridian. In Meridian, take a right on Hwy. 22, then a left on Hwy. 144 and proceed over hilly terrain to the delightful Texas town of Glen Rose. The entrance to the park is just a few miles northwest of the town square off of Farm to Market Road 205.


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    I arrived at the park around 2 PM. The lady working the visitor’s center sent me to site 31, but also wrote down about six other sites that were available. She told me if I saw one I liked better, come back and let her know. I surveyed all of the sites but the last, site 47, was by far the nicest! Apparently it is one of the two campground host sites. It was somewhat secluded, had a nice level tent pad, and its own trail to the bathrooms and showers. The campsite host on duty was next door (site 46), and kindly offered to let them know while I un-packed and set up camp. He even returned with a new parking permit. Extremely nice guy!

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    <o:p>After setting up it was almost four, and I was really anxious to see tracks. I decided to visit track site 1 which is just across from the park store and two full sized dinosaur replicas constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair, and later donated to the park.</o:p>
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    <o:p>They say… everything’s bigger in Texas!</o:p>
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    <o:p>This is an absolutely beautiful little state park. The terrain is typical of the Texas Hill Country, with the bonus of open vistas with tallgrass prairie vegetation, and forests along the banks of the crystal clear Paluxy River.</o:p>
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    <o:p>The tracks at site 1 were made by a three-toed theropod dinosaur, Acrocanthosaurus, a putative relative of the more familiar Tyrannosaurus rex. </o:p>
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    <o:p>The tracks sit on a cretaceous limestone ledge in just a few inches of water adjacent to a deep pool in the river. </o:p>
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    <o:p>More to come… thanks for looking!</o:p>
    #1
  2. OKlr

    OKlr 25mph gate inpector

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    that's cool. i'll have to plan a family trip.
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  3. acejones

    acejones Long timer

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    That is very cool. How far away for lodging/dining ? I'm not a camper.
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  4. Superstar

    Superstar Been here awhile

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    Several hotels around. There is a great wildlife park close by that is pretty famous.
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  5. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    I did see several B&B’s and small hotels in Glen Rose. A lady that works in the park store recommended several local cafes with special reference to Debbie’s and Big Cup Eatery. This park is excellent for kids; the interpretive center and displays at the front gate are well done, and then there’s those “vintage” dinosaur models (not to mention the real tracks themselves)! Be careful with kidos at track site one since reaching them involves descending a steep sandy trail and scrambling over several boulders. Site 2, however, is perfect for kids.

    I hiked from site 1 to site 4 and searched for a while with no luck. My guess is that the tracks are either covered with sediment, or eroded to the point that they are not easily recognized by a novice. I returned to camp to have dinner…

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    …build a fire, and spend some time reading and decompressing.

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    I slept in Saturday morning, but after breakfast threw a few cliff bars in my pack and set out to see the rest of the track sites. Site 2 (the main track site) was my first stop. There are several interpretive kiosks that are helpful to read before you descend on a stone staircase to the Paluxy and search for tracks. This site has both theropod and sauropod tracks (belonging to Paluxysaurus jonesi, a species I learned was described new a few years ago)…

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    This picture depicts a combination of both kinds of tracks, but the sauropod tracks are much less distinctive.

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    #5
  6. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    The interpretive signs describe how some of the better &#8220;track-ways&#8221; in this area were removed and placed on display at different museums. So the tracks that remain are not the best, and have been subjected to continuous erosion since they were exposed (deliberately or otherwise). None the less, there are many great theropod tracks to see, and with a little effort, you can locate some very extensive sauropod track-ways in shallow water a few hundred yards south of the main set of tracks. It&#8217;s amazing to see the tracks left behind as a massive sauropod dinosaur marched across an expanse millions of years ago! I spent over an hour here, so just take your time and explore.

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    I hiked to track site 3, which seems to have been lost due to erosion. It took some effort to get to the river from the parking area, and once there I couldn&#8217;t locate any tracks. An interesting thing to see here are the layers of different strata of the Glen Rose Formation, beginning at the cretaceous aged limestone of the river bed, working &#8220;up&#8221; to modern times, and how the down cutting and erosive forces of the river have exposed them in cross-section. The geology of this region is fascinating!

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  7. urbanXJ

    urbanXJ Long timer

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    thank you for posting
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  8. acejones

    acejones Long timer

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    As soon as I showed this to my wife, she said "road trip" !
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  9. WoodButcher

    WoodButcher Long timer

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    My daughter and I were there in August. We only checked out sites #2 and #4. The tracks at #4 are all in the river bed. The water was low when we were there and a small area was uncovered. We pulled off our shoes and socks and walked in the water to some of the others. As you mentioned, site #2 was easy to see a lot of tracks. I don't seem to have my pictures in Smugmug, but I'll get some of site #4 up so you know where to look next time.
    #9
  10. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    That would be awesome! Thanks!
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  11. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    It’s a neat park, Ace. By 2 or so I was back at my camp for lunch, then geared up for a ride into town and some of the twisting county roads in the surrounding area. Just down the road from the park, there is a “Creation Evidence Museum” that boasts of exhibits that prove man and dinosaur walked side by side! I didn’t stop in, but snapped a picture of their signs for grins.

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    The county courthouse in the town square all decked out for Christmas, and the nifty cutouts on the park benches there. Glen Rose is proud of its dinosaurs.

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    After I second great day of hiking and some riding, I was beat. The day gave way to a clear cold night and after dinner I retired to my tent to read. I drifted off to sleep to the yipping of coyotes.

    Sunday morning I cooked breakfast, broke camp, and packed up. I was on the road by 7:45 and about two hours later made a stop in route back to Houston at Loretta’s Café in Calvert. I had my only sit down meal of the trip, a short stack of pancakes and sausage. Overpriced, but delicious! No picture of the pancakes, but here's my bike!

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    Dinosaur Valley State Park is a gem! From what I saw, most of the campsites lend themselves nicely to our kind of camping.

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    The tracks are cool, but there are other things to see and do. It’s a great fall/winter destination. My guess is the cold water of the Paluxy River would be a great (and possibly crowded) restorative during the hot summer months. Like most Texas state parks it’s a little understaffed (and no doubt underfunded) but everyone I encountered was very friendly. Given more time, I would like to have ventured out to some of the other area attractions, but I had to be back to work early Monday morning.

    Thanks for looking!
    #11
  12. WoodButcher

    WoodButcher Long timer

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    Totally forgot that I needed to upload some pics to smugmug to show the tracks at site 4.

    Here are some large ones that lead out into the water past my daughter.

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    some others on the same shallow area going the other direction.

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    There are some close ups in the gallery: http://woodbutcher.smugmug.com/Other/dinosaurs/26859370_3J2vfr
    #12
  13. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    Oh wow... excellent! Makes me want to ride back up there and search for them again! Thanks, Rusty.
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  14. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

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    I live close to Dinosaur Valley State Park and wanted others to know there is a great BBQ Joint/Motorcycle hang-out just about 10 miles from there called Loco Coyote. Great BBQ and ran by some friends of mine. The portions are huge and the food is excellent.

    Also, close by is a very nice place called Rough Creek Lodge. Set amongst over 1000 acres of beautiful land and a very upscale place well worth checking out. The Bar is way cool. Alot of amenites are there. Great roads surround it. A true Texas experience. Longhorns and buffalo can be seen on the drive in. Very nice pool and outdoor use areas. Also a very nice small lake for fishing, around 80 acres.

    Also close by is a small Texas classic town with a great town square called Granbury. Many places to stay and eat. Very cool town. I live outside it about 15 miles along the Brazos River. Granbury is right on Lake Granbury. Well worth checking this area out.
    #14
  15. Sundowner

    Sundowner Bort

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    Excellent report on a fascinating area. Thanks for sharing it with us. :clap
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  16. CoolGeologist

    CoolGeologist Rider of the WeeStrom

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    Great pics. Having moved away from Texas 26 years ago, I find that I really miss this kind of stuff. Thanks for sharing.
    #16
  17. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    Glad others enjoyed! FotoTEX, thanks for the additional information about the area; I'm eager to make another trip out there!
    #17
  18. Domromer

    Domromer Desert Rat

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    Cool trip. I've always wanted to see dinosaur tracks.
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  19. Oli-San

    Oli-San Adventurer

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    Great report and pictures!
    Now I know I want to ride there!
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  20. achtung3

    achtung3 Long timer

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