Our 5-year-old son is a huge dinosaur fan. As a result, I too have read many dinosaur books, watched many episodes of Dinosaur Train and made many trips to local dinosaur museums. I feel pretty invested in dinosaur discovery and when I found out about sites near Moab where we could see real dinosaur bones and tracks out in nature, I’m quite sure I was more excited than he was.
I found the information at www.utah.com/dinosaur. This website lists dinosaur sites all over Utah and four of the five sites in Southeastern Utah are in the Moab area. Of those, we chose the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail and the Potash Road Dinosaur Tracks.
The online directions were good and we found the dinosaur sites without any trouble. We started with Mill Canyon. As mentioned on the site, you do need to drive on a dirt road for about two miles to get to the trail. Our minivan did not have any trouble on this road, though the website says that the road is impassable when wet. I believe this. It had rained a couple of days before our arrival and the road goes through a stream bed. It was mostly dried up and the ground was still a bit frozen on the morning we drove over it, but I could see how it could be a problem if it were much wetter.
There was a small parking lot at the end of the road and on a Friday morning in February, we had the place to ourselves. The trail is a short loop – a half mile at most, with lots of stops – that is seldom out of sight of the parking lot. Changes in elevation are small. Neither, our five-year-old nor Grandma, who is not a hiker, had much trouble with it. Signs are posted all along the way so we knew what to look for. I have to admit that I never would have guessed those were dinosaur bones if the signs hadn’t told me so. We also saw fresh coyote prints and the remains of an old copper mill along our walk and those were fun too. We were there about an hour and I thought it was fun and educational. It’s the sort of thing that most people don’t see.
The Potash Road Dinosaur Tracks are more accessible. Potash Road is just north of Moab and is well marked from Highway 191. The drive is beautiful, with the Colorado River on one side and sheer, colorful cliffs on the other. As we drove we saw some climbers preparing the scale the steep rock face. A little farther down, look for a sign pointing to petroglyphs. There is a little space to pull off the road. The petroglyphs are easy to see and I am a sucker for petroglyphs so I think that this is a must-stop situation, at least for a few minutes. A little farther down the road is a turn off to a parking lot where you can see the dinosaur tracks. We did not see the spotting scope that was mentioned on the Utah dinosaur website, but you can see the tracks from the parking lot. There is a little trail that heads that direction, but the tracks are high up and the trail isn’t, so as you get closer, they become impossible to see. Perhaps we missed something. Anyway, if you have binoculars, this is a good opportunity to use them to see the tracks up close.