Utah's Jurassic Park
Feb 17, 2017
By: Chad Taylor & Jake Wilhelmsen
While there’s no velociraptor-in-the-kitchen scenario, Moab Giants Dinosaur Park is just about as authentic a prehistoric adventure as you’ll find this side of the silver screen.
Southeast Utah’s sedimentary sandstone provided a fantastic final resting place for thousands of our Mesozoic predecessors. At the aptly named Moab Giants Dinosaur Park and Tracks Museum, the Jurassic era is alive and well. (Well, lively if not alive…)
Here are our five favorite things to do there:
5. 3D Theater
We recommend you start your day of discovery in the theater. The presentation begins 13.7 billion years ago at the Big Bang (it would have started before that but neither time nor space existed) and carries you through the creation of the universe to the age of dinosaurs, which began 220 million years ago. This 3D journey sets the stage for a comprehensive introduction to prehistoric life unlike anything you’ve experienced. Get your popcorn ready.
4. Paleo Camp
This outdoor exhibit pays homage to Dr. Gerald Gerlinkski and Dr. Martin Lockley who set up camp more than 25 years ago where the park currently sits. They spent years making significant discoveries specific to the area. See replicas of their tents, tools and even the vehicles they used to unearth the fascinating evidence of Moab’s prehistoric residents.
Calling all ichnology buffs! (For you non-buffs, ichnology is the study of organismal behavior, and it includes a healthy fascination with footprints and burrows.) This isn’t your typical dinosaur museum. We’re talking interactive exhibits that help you understand how tracks are made and fossilized. The exhibits have been carefully constructed by scientists that have dedicated their research to the paleontology of the region. Think of the tracks museum as their journals coming to life.
There are all kinds of trails in and around Moab: You can hike to arches and bike through canyons and jeep over Navajo sandstone — and at Moab Giants, there’s a trail that lets you walk with the dinosaurs. It’s a half-mile long with more than 100 full-size reconstructions of dinosaurs and their distinct tracks. Learn about the species that once roamed this valley before it was overtaken by mountain bikers, offroaders and vegan-friendly cafes.
Why do stegosaurus, T. rex, and velociraptor get all the attention? Your average fourth grader could probably even draw you a pretty decent diplodocus. But the poor prehistoric deep species never get any love. Until now! Adding two more D’s to the already impressive-sounding 3D Theater, the 5D PaleoAquarium puts you — virtually, don’t worry — in the middle of massive Mesozoic marine monsters. See ichthyosaurus, early turtle and shark ancestors and a boatload of other ancient underwater animals, vegetables and minerals. Watch out for the megalodon.
OTHER DINO-MITE STUFF
Giants Cafe: Lots of options to refuel during your day at the park — salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, kids menu. The T-Rex Monster Burger and Pterodactyl Chicken are worth their own trip.
Special Events: There’s always something going on, from annual Easter and Halloween celebrations to opportunities to meet the resident paleontologist and even an electric light parade.