Canyons and Dinosaurs in Moab

As I mentioned in my last post, due to temps approaching the 100’s, we decided to jam a week’s worth of activities in Moab into one 36 hour period. We will certainly have to go back someday to see what we missed, but I’m happy with all we managed to do.

After spending time in Arches National Park, we headed across the street to its neighbor, Canyonlands National Park.  We didn’t spend a lot of time in the park.  It was almost mid-day and getting really hot, plus we had lots of other stuff we wanted to do.  So, we stopped at the visitor center and the boys completed their Junior Ranger books without even doing a hike – I really felt like that was cheating, getting a ranger badge before even setting foot on a hiking path, but since I knew we were going to do one, I figured it just saved a stop to get the badge right away.

Junior Ranger badge in hand, we walked to the canyon overlook view point (and got a kind person to take a family picture for us 🙂 ).


Next, we headed to Mesa Arch, a short half-mile round trip walk to an arch on a cliff edge.  The hike was easy and we enjoyed the view of the arch.


The view behind the arch was amazing – a huge drop to the canyon below.


With Canyonlands checked off our list (sorry – Canyonlands, we will be back to explore you again, we promise!), we headed to our next stop, Dead Horse Point State Park.  This state park was very close to Canyonlands, in fact, it overlooked the same canyon, so the views were similar.  The story with the state park’s name is that some cowboys drove wild mustangs to a mesa above the canyon, and blocked off their exit with some brush.  They chose the mustangs they wanted to take, and for some reason, never let the rest of the mustangs off the mesa, so they all died on the mesa, within view of the Colorado river below.  On that happy note, let’s look at some pictures 🙂

let’s be honest – not a lot different from Canyonlands



contemplating life (or more likely, what his 15th favorite animal is)

So – this place was nice, but the real reason we were here – and paid $15 to get in, despite having our National Parks pass and getting in free to all the national park sites, was because they were supposed to have Utah State Junior Ranger badges that looked like sheriff badges.  Ever since Spring Break, when L heard about these special badges and missed out on getting one at another Utah state park because they were all out, he was dying to get one to add to his collection.  I was fairly sure they had them, but not positive, so I didn’t want to get his hopes up.

working on their Junior Ranger books with a scenic backdrop

But I’ve held you in suspense long enough, so I’m happy to report…


…he got his badge! (Of course, having two brothers, you can’t just bask in the glory of your new badge – the brothers are right there to ruin your picture 😉 ).

With 3 shiny new Junior Ranger badges in hand, we had two little stops before heading to our hotel for the night (a 1.5 hr drive outside tomorrow’s destination).  These stops were to see – DINOSAUR TRACKS!! How exciting is that?!  Moab, and Southern Utah in general, is something of a hotbed for all things dinosaur.  So, there are a few spots near Moab where you can see honest-to-goodness dinosaur tracks right where the dinosaurs once left them!

The boys were a little worn out at this time, but luckily, it was a fairly short drive, followed by a fairly short walk to the first set of dinosaur tracks, at Mill Canyon Dinosaur tracksite.  This tracksite was only discovered in 2009, and scientists have found tracks of EIGHT different dinosaurs, plus a track from a crocodile.  Cool! The tracks were clear and visible as footprints.  C and I were super impressed with these.  The boys – a little less so.




Our final stop was at the Copper Ridge Dinosaur tracksite, just a few miles north of the first stop, and this time, the boys wouldn’t even get out of the car!  But C and I were happy we got out and saw the tracks.  This neat set of tracks shows the tracks of a sauropod dinosaur, and the really cool thing is that the tracks are very clear – not like a footprint on a flat surface, but it looks just like the dinosaur had just stepped in mud and left these footprints – the print and the mud itself turned to rock!


The dinosaur prints walking across the mud (now rock)

That was the end of our 36 hours in Moab – we fit a ton of fun stuff in, but hope to be back again one day (in cooler weather) to explore it more!

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