Where do you go when you have a son who has dreamed of being a paleontologist since he was just a little boy? Dinosaur Valley State Park, of course!
The park celebrated their 50th Anniversary in October with a big event, and we were there for all the fun! It was just one of our many visits to the park, either to swim, hike, camp or attend one of the special programs! After years of visiting the park, we have lots of experience. Here’s a guide to my most helpful tips on best campsites, places to explore and, of course, see dinosaur tracks! I hope that you will love it as much as we do!
Located in the great little town of Glen Rose, Dinosaur Valley State Park offers something for everyone, whether you love dinosaurs or not, but the park has a definite theme.
What makes Dinosaur Valley SP unique are the dinosaurs tracks in the riverbed, which the park claims are some of the best preserved ones in the world, and are visible to everyone! Of course, the park is proud of the their tracks, and the Welcome Center even displays the dinosaur theme. The rocks used to build the center are excavated right there in Glen Rose.
Inside the Welcome Center is a FREE interpretive exhibit that tells the story of the dinosaur tracks, with models of the dinosaurs that made them and creates a visual of the terrain of Texas during the time of the dinosaurs, when all the land was covered by a shallow sea.
Dinosaurs no longer roam the park, but you can still pretend with these models located just down from the entrance to the park. They were built for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair’s Dinosaur Exhibit. It’s a great photo op.!
After running for your life from the dinosaur models, stop in the gift shop to buy a cool drink, and check out the dinosaur related merchandise and park shirts!
There are visible dinosaur tracks all along the riverbed of the Paluxy River. The park has several sets which you can easily view, or even sit inside! If it has been raining, or the water level is high, not all the tracks may be visible. Call the park to check on the status.
The Blue Hole
Where else can you enjoy cooling off on a hot summer day, in clear water up to 20′ deep, while observing some of the best dinosaur tracks in the world?
You can walk down to the river bed to see the tracks. There are two trails, and I think the lower trail (on the left) is definitely the easier of the two.
The Blue Hole is the best place for swimming in the park, so take your suits and enjoy! The water depth drops off from only 1′ to over 20′, right next to the dinosaur tracks, so take precautions when going with young children. There are not lifeguards in the park.
Each New Years Day, our family, well those of us brave enough, participate in a Polar Plunge! It’s so much (cold) fun! Actually, here in Texas, it might be cold or it might be a nice day for a swim. But one of favorites is the Blue Hole at Dinosaur Valley State Park! People line up in great costumes, including several dinosaurs, for a chance to jump in (or chicken out) of the cold waters of the Blue Hole! The park also host 1st day hikes and more!
Track Site #2
Just down the river from the Blue Hole is another set of tracks, marked as Track Site #2. The river is much more shallow here, and my kids love to wade through it, using their nets to catch fish and tadpoles! Don’t forget your water shoes, as the rocks can be slippery!
I’m ALWAYS recommending these kid’s fishing nets! They are a great way for kids to learn about the natural world! Take a little bucket to put your catches in while watching them, before returning them to the water! Other fun items to bring for the kids are bug catchers and boxes, magnifying glasses and a couple of marbles to click together and see if you can call some cricket frogs!
Picnic Tables and Day Use
Located near the Blue Hole, the Day Use area offers LOTS of picnic tables under big shade trees. Enjoy a picnic lunch, or bring hot dogs and hamburgers to cookout on the grills. One of the park’s two playgrounds are located here, also. Of course, so are the restrooms, with showers so you can rinse off after your swim!
Fun Mom Tip: Bring some toy dinosaurs for the kids to play with at the playground, or tell them to dig around in the bark mulch, like a paleontologist, looking for some of the ones we left on our last visit!
We camp in the park each Mother’s Day, unless I forgot to make my reservations, along about November, because the park fills up quickly, especially on holidays and weekends.
The park has 46 campsite with electricity and water, and they are all nice, but there are some helpful hints to make your trip better. None of the campsites are ON the water, sites 17, 15, 14, 13 and 11 are closest to the water, but you must walk down to the river bed. This is a nice, shallow place to get wet and explore, too. Track Site #4 is just down the river. Now that my children are older, I love these sites, however, I avoided these campsites when my children were little because of the drop off. The trail runs behind the campsites, and there was a lot of traffic.
I LOVE the brick grills at some of the campsites, it’s always something I look for when choosing a site. The other campsites have metal grills. They all have fire rings, too.
There park’s 2nd playground is located near sites 43, 44 and 45, which is good to know if your camping with kids, or even if you are camping without them.
My son’s boy scout troop has primitive camped at Dinosaur Valley, and we did once when I waited too long for a campsite. You must hike in to the sites about 1 mile or more. It’s nice if you want more privacy, and a good place to see foraging deer in the morning and evenings.
Hiking and Biking Trails
There are lots of trails, click HERE for more information. My favorite is the Outer Ridge Trail. The park does guided trail hikes, too, including Park After Dark Night Hike, the Blue Trail Hike to view fossilized coral reef formations, and the Limestone Ledge Family Trail Hike. I would also like to hike the Green Trail to the Wildcat Hollow Waterfall following a rain, since there is not always water flowing.
One neat place to visit just outside of the park is Bussey’s Stone Hut Fossils. Stop in and say hello to Morris and check out his fossils from around Texas and Oklahoma, and as far away as Morocco!
He also offers guided fossil hunts in Texas! Click on his link and give him a call for more information!
I LOVE getting comments! Please let me know if you have any other questions, or SHARE your own helpful hints! Thanks!
Things To Do in Glen Rose
Dinosaur World has lifelike models of over 150 dinosaurs! The park is located right before the entrance to Dinosaur Valley State Park. Click HERE to read more.
The River House Grill is located in a historic home with a patio on the river. Click HERE to visit their website.
Dinosaur Valley State Park
1629 Park Rd 59, Glen Rose
Click HERE to visit their website.
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What were your sites of choice when your children were younger? We’re thinking of camping here in November with our kids 6 and 2.
Thanks for all the great information!
Sites 43, 44 and 45 are near the playground and away from the water/heavy brush. 43 and 44 are also close to the restrooms, which is a plus. 44 is across the street from the restroom, so less noise and traffic. There was a dumpster close by, but you are near the RV dump station and there was a dumpster nearby. I don’t remember them ever being an inconvenience, but fyi.
This was the only site that provided great information on what to expect while camping with young children. We are camping here for the first time, and I feel better prepared after reading this. I feel my children will be safer knowing that swim shoes and life vests are a must for them this time. Thank you for your time reviewing this park. Peace.