Located in Moab, Utah, is Utah's Jurassic Park, a life-size dinosaur adventure full of interactive attractions and entertainment run by Moab Giants Dinosaur Park. While there's no velociraptor-in-the-kitchen scenario, it's just about as authentic a prehistoric experience as you'll find this side of the silver screen, and strikes the perfect balance of adventure and science for the pint-sizes in your group.
Southeastern Utah's sedimentary sandstone provided a fantastic final resting place for thousands of our Mesozoic predecessors. Nestled amongst some of the world's most breathtaking scenery, you'll find the aptly named Moab Giants Dinosaur Park and Tracks Museum, where 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.
3. Tracks Museum
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. Scientists who have dedicated their research to the region's paleontology have carefully constructed the exhibits. Think of the tracks museum as their journals coming to life.
2. Dinosaur Trail
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, off-roaders and vegan-friendly cafÃ©s.
1. 5D Paleoaquarium
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.
Ready to go? Great. Here's some housekeeping you should know.
March 1-October 31: Open 7 days a week: 10am-6pm
Adult (16+): $16
Youth (4-15): $12
Child (3 & Under): FREE
Adult (16+): $22
Youth (4-15): $16
Child (3 & Under): FREE