Dinosaur Valley State Park

A couple nights at Dinosaur Valley were a bit of an impulse. I wouldn’t normally consider myself a dinosaur person. Sure, I like Jurassic Park. But I still think of the brontosaurus as my favorite dinosaur. I don’t know why this park appealed to me other than it seemed like something a bit different and it was kind of on my way.

The previous day’s rain gave way to beautiful blue skies. Although the calendar was firmly in December, at this latitude it felt more like late fall than almost Christmas. The park is small, and so Blue and I set out from our campsite. A short walk along the creek lead to the main dinosaur footprint area. I had read that the footprints were variable in their visibility and may not be seen at all in periods of high or cloudy water. My expectations were low given yesterday’s downpour.

Technically the trails may have been closed, but plenty of people were out and about. The main footprint area seems like it would be the perfect spot for a ranger spot with terraced steps built into the river bed wall. Large stones make a path across the water. The clearest footprints when I was there could be seen within an area that is roped off.

I decided to continue on the far side of the river. A social trail followed the river for a bit, but that soon became very overgrown. Instead I climbed to the Limestone Ledge Trail. I took the half mile detour to the overlook. It was well worth it for views of the valley. There was an option for a loop that I might have explored on another trip, but I was interested in sticking closer to the river. I returned to the Limestone Ledge Trail. My plan was to hike back along the river and cross back at the campground.

The Ledge Trail lived up to its name with wonderful rock formations. Most of the birds were quiet while we walked, but a Red-shouldered Hawk gave us some nice looks. As I approached about where I assumed the river crossing to be, I was a little surprised to see only small rocks peeking out over a rather broad expanse of water. This would be tricky to do without wet feet. Honestly, the water was low enough that I could have easily just splashed right through it, but I had enough hikes on the schedule that I preferred not to deal with drying out the boots. And I had read that the wet rocks were very slick as well. I made it across with only a couple close calls.

I made a pitstop back at the trailer for snacks and batteries. It was torn between taking a nap and looking for more dinosaur footprints. I drove back over to the main track site, stopping for some dinosaur selfies. Blue was not impressed.

I attempted to walk upriver again on the east shore. This was again a social trail. I have to say that having a GPS app such as Gaia was very helpful in this park to distinguish the social trails from official trails. I wandered for a bit, but didn’t make any amazing discoveries. The late December afternoon was promising an early sunset, so I decided to return to the trailer for dinner. As nice as the campsites were, I opted out of a campfire.

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