In his latest contribution, Bill Brooks takes us on another Texas State Park journey that is highly recommended. Especially if you have little ones, or just feel like a kid again when you see dino tracks! Here is his visit to Dinosaur Valley State Park. Click here for more Texas State Parks.
At some point it seems most kids go through a dinosaur phase, mine included. They can definitely get their fix at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose. This is easily our favorite park in the area for many reasons, not just because of the many dinosaur tracks you are able to put your feet or hands in.
The dinosaur phase has come and gone and we still frequent this park. For my kids, it’s due to the Paluxy River they are able to play in. For me, it’s the many miles of fantastic hikes that are available with nice views.
The staff here does an incredible job of hosting a variety of events to keep campers and day visitors busy and occupied during their stay. They range from track talks, to bug/fossil digs, archery and atlatl throwing, star parties, painting with a ranger, and many more. There’s been many a slow day over the weekend or summer where we’ve jumped in the truck to go to the park 30 miles away for some great outdoor adventure and ranger activities. Our annual Texas State Park pass has been more than paid for with this park alone. If you join Dinosaur Valley’s Facebook page you can see the events and when they are scheduled to be held to help with your itinerary on your next visit.
Let’s start with the dinosaurs. There are several places around the park to see tracks, some that are roped off for viewing only and others where you can actually step inside. The park also boasts two dinosaur models that can be seen as soon as you enter the park next to the park store. Just across the road from the store is one of the most popular swimming areas called the Blue Hole. There’s a small look over with a small descent down to the river. Once you reach the riverbed one can see tracks in the shallow waters along the edge. You can stand in one of these and watch swimmers as they jump into the deep waters of the Paluxy. Further up the river is an area called the Ballroom where there are hundreds of tracks to be viewed. Just down the river at the Main Track Site is where you will find the roped off tracks. Many of these tracks are visible as long as the weather remains favorable. There are times with a good amount of rainfall they will be covered up and can’t be seen. Once again, if you follow the park’s Facebook page they will update the status on track visibility.
Dinosaur Valley offers 20+ miles of hiking/biking trails as well. The most popular and well known is the .5 mile hike to the Overlook where you can see the Paluxy River Valley below as well as the entire park. It’s an easy to moderate hike with several stops along the way to enjoy the scenery. You can trek up the front side which is a little more strenuous, but definitely doable (my 3 & 5 year old made it up with minimal complaints) or hike up the back side which is longer and a little more gradual. The trail takes you along the banks of the Paluxy in a steady climb until it turns up towards the Overlook. You can hike up and back down in less than 45 minutes depending on how long you take in the sights along the way.
Two other popular trails are the Cedar Brake Outer Loop (7.5 miles) that takes you along the outside edges of the park that traverses some limestone ledges and a couple of hills that encase the park. The other is the Black-Capped Vireo Trail (2.7 miles), a smaller version of the Outer Loop, that passes a seasonal waterfall that is a refreshing break point along the way. Both trails end at the same point and offer access to the Overlook from the back side. A great way to finish a nice hike around the park. The flat Paluxy River Trail is a 2 mile hike/bike that goes all along the banks on the inside of the river. This hike is mostly shaded and takes you by the picnic areas, playground, and campsites.
Plan ahead when visiting Dinosaur Valley State Park. Long lines to enter are common on holidays, Spring Break, and nice weekends. Entering early is advised as well as purchasing tickets online to ensure your entrance. Glen Rose also offers other attractions that are great for the family. Fossil Rim a few miles down the road is a drive through wildlife park with various exotic animals you can feed from your window including giraffes, zebras, emus and a variety of deer and antelope. Big Rock Park near downtown is a free public park that has access to the Paluxy River. This is a nice town to plan a getaway that will keep you and your family entertained.
As always went visiting public parks, leave no trace. Only leave with memories and pictures.