Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dinosaur Valley State Park

We stayed at Dinosaur Valley State Park just outside of Glen Rose, Texas, from August 9 - 12. We decided to stop there to break up our trip from Lake Livingston SP to San Angelo. When pulling our trailer, I don't care to drive more than 5 or 6 hours a day, so Dinosaur Valley was a good place to break up the trip. Also, since my brother lives in Ft. Worth, it was convenient for him to come down for a short visit.

The park contains 1524.72 acres along the clear running Paluxy River. The terrain is wooded-hilly- and semi-rocky and contains a variety of trees. At the time of our visit, the river was way down with limited wading and swimming opportunities.

The park is significant for the collection of dinosaur tracks found along the river bed. There are actually 4 areas along the river where dinosaur tracks have been found. These are clearly indicated on the park map. Sauropod (round) and therapod tracks (three-toed) were left in the soft mud of the shallow sea that once covered this part of Texas. The tracks are considered the finest examples of such tracks in the world, and scientists have been able to learn much about dinosaurs by studying these tracks. Signs are prevalent at all track sites and are worth the time they take to read.

Sauropod trackway, with Donna standing nearby for size comparison (track site #2)
Therapod track with 3 toes pointing right; this example is from track site #4
Paluxy River is way down at Track Site #2, where the largest collection of tracks can be found
The dinosaur tracks are not the only attraction in the park, though. The Paluxy River provides swimming in various areas, especially the Blue Hole in the western side of the park. The park also contains a number of trails for hikers and mountain bikers. There's just a lot to do in this park.

The Blue Hole; there are dinosaur tracks on a ledge just above this swimming hole

This was our first time to camp in the park. We normally try to stay in parks that provide full hookups. However, since we only planned to spend 3 nights, we did not really need full hookups since we have 40 gallon holding tanks. We stayed in site 44, and we enjoyed the site. It is right next to the playground in the campground, though, so it can get a bit noisy. We enjoy watching children play, though, so that was not a concern for us.

Our campsite, #44

Every site in the park seems to have at least some shade, and some are in full shade. Should you consider staying at the park, be forewarned that some sites have longer pads than others; some sites will not accommodate longer rigs. The park was under a burn ban while we where there, so we were not able to enjoy the stone fireplace at the back of our site.

There was not WiFi in the park, at least that we could pick up from our site. Television reception on our antennae was also a bit weak.

As with many recreational parks, there was a party element at this park. On our first night, we were awakened after midnight by loud laughing from the next door playground. Some older teens decided to use it as a meeting place, much to our dismay.

Example of many informational signs located throughout the park
But I like this park, and I would like to go back some time when there is no burn ban, when school is in session, and during the work week, probably during the fall or spring. Weekends tend to draw crowds. Allow the better part of one day to view all dinosaur track sites if you read all the literature and give the tracks a careful study.

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