Dinosaur Valley State Park: 2 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas.

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Since getting stationed at Fort Cavazos almost 3 years ago, exploring the Texas outdoors has been one of our favorite things to do as a family.

There are 25 state parks within a 2.5-hour drive from Fort Cavazos. And we have tried to see as many of them as possible during our time here.

So, when I finally made reservations for Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, I was excited to check another item off of our Texas Bucket List.

Little did I know that I made 2 crucial mistakes in planning our prehistoric excursion.

Mistake 1: Making Reservations After a Period of Rain

The main attraction at Dinosaur Valley is the fossilized dinosaur footprints at the bottom of the Paluxy River. More than 243,000 visitors made the trip to Glen Rose to see them in 2022. Making this the 8th most visited state park in Texas!

We visited the park in mid-May after a period of several thunderstorms. Texas was still considered to be in a severe drought, so we were grateful for the rain and didn’t think it would be an issue.

However, even a few meager inches of rainfall earlier in the week made most of the dinosaur tracks impossible to access while we were at the park.

Unfortunately for us, the Main Track Site was the only open site. All of the trails across the river were closed. Which meant that we couldn’t see the Ballroom Track Site, the Blue Hole, or hike to the overlook.

We viewed the tracks in the Main Track Site, which took all of 10 minutes, then played in the river. It was a little disappointing.

The Main Track Site at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas.
(This small roped off area is the Main Track Site.)
Fossilized dinosaur footprints in the bottom of a river in Texas
(The therapod tracks were easier to spot.)

Mistake 2: Not Making Other Plans in Glen Rose

This leads me to the other mistake that you should avoid when you visit Dinosaur Valley State Park: Don’t fail to make other plans in Glen Rose.

We set out for Dinosaur Valley, 1 hour and 45 minutes away, with the expectation that we would spend most of the day in the park. However, due to the river’s high water levels and the closures of most of the trails and track sites, we spent less than 2 hours there.

I wish I had made a backup plan of more things to do in the area. We did go to a couple of antique stores to look around, but for the most part, this little day trip felt like a bust.

(Checking out the cliffs along the Paluxy River.)
Treestar at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas.
(We found those tree-stars that Littlefoot likes!)
(Even a disappointing day outside is better than a day inside!)

Things to do in Glen Rose

If I had to do it over again, I might add some of these things to our itinerary:

  • feed the giraffes at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
  • a visit to the Somervell County Museum
  • take a stroll around the Glen Rose Historic Square
  • explore Big Rocks Park
  • look around the Barnard Mill & Art Museum

Just doing something else would have made our trip feel more ‘worth the drive’.

(Don’t miss a photo op with the dinos when you enter the park!)

I encourage you to plan your visit when the weather has been dry (which typically isn’t hard in Texas) and also to make some other plans in the area in case the river doesn’t want to cooperate when you’re there.

Even though our visit to Dinosaur Valley State Park was a little disappointing, I’m still glad that we went.

Where else can you see fossilized dinosaur tracks in the bottom of the Paluxy River?

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