Utah has a lot of good dinosaur museums, and my family has visited most of them. We think it's really cool that in parts of Utah, it's difficult to dig a hole without finding a dinosaur in it. Price, Utah is one of those places.
We stopped to visit the USU-Eastern Prehistoric Museum in Price on our way home from a long weekend in Moab. Price is a mining and college town in eastern Utah. It is located about halfway between Salt Lake City and Moab, so it's often a good place to get the wiggles out. If you have an hour or more, the Prehistoric Museum is a fun and educational stop for families.
You could make this museum part of a Dinosaur Weekend. Pair it with a visit to the famous Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry about 30 miles south of Price. Visit the Castle Country website at www.castlecountry.com to learn more about nearby activities.
The Prehistoric Museum is conveniently located on Main Street in Price and it is operated by Utah State University Eastern. It attracts dinosaur lovers from around the globe.
Here's what you'll find at the USU-Eastern Prehistoric Museum.
If you want to see dinosaurs, the Prehistoric Museum packs some good ones into its small space. As you walk in the door, you'll be greeted by a Utahraptor – the frightening creature that the raptors in the movie Jurassic Park were based on. In the Paleontology wing, visitors will find Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, Chasmosaurus, and others. The museum is planning an expansion to make room for its gigantic Brachiosaurus.
Most of the bones on display at the Prehistoric Museum are real. This is not the case at all dinosaur museums, where the displays are casts and the real bones are stored out of view. Nearly all of the fossils are local as well.
Making the connection between the ancient fossils and reptiles of today, the museum has a live alligator, soft shell turtle and monitor lizard on display near the Children's Discovery Area.
The other half of the Prehistoric Museum is dedicated to Archaeology. This wing has its share of baskets, pot shards and corn exhibits – complete with interactive features – but the 15-foot Huntington Mammoth in the center of the gallery is sure to catch your attention.
My children also liked the Ute tipi and the other reconstructed fossils of ancient mammals. My 9-year-old daughter dragged me over to see an exhibit about Chief Washakie of the Shoshones. Chief Washakie was a character in a book she had just finished at school.
Just for Kids
The Prehistoric Museum recently opened the Children's Discovery Area – a fun play zone for kids. My children liked climbing around the two-story American Indian-themed play house. Young children will love the sand box where they can use brushes to uncover dinosaur bones. You'll also find dinosaur hand puppets, puzzles, games, and picture books to keep kids entertained.
Whether you are spending a few days in eastern Utah, or just a few hours, the Prehistoric Museum at USU-Eastern is a worthwhile stop for families.
Good to Know
Where: 155 East Main Street, Price, Utah
When: Monday-Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Adults: $6
- Children (ages 2-12): $3
- Children (under 2): Free
- Seniors: $5
- Family Rate (same residence): $17. This will be the best deal for most families.
- Discounts for military and groups of 5 people or more are also available.
How Long: 1-3 hours
Amenities: Gift shop, restrooms