Northwest of Glen Rose, Texas in Somervell County is Dinosaur Valley State Park. The park sits on 1524 acres of land running along the Paluxy River. In 1968 the State Parks Bonds Program acquired the land from private owners. It took some time, but in 1972 the park was finally open to the public.
The Paluxy River was carved over 113 million years ago when an ancient sea ran along the limestone, mudstone, and sandstone. The water eventually dissipated leaving just the river water. The water in the river has worked about a million years to carve out what visitors can see today. Some of the more resistant beds in the river have been cut down and several rocks are exposed in other spots as the river water carved around them to keep moving.
The name for the Valley Park came from the leftover prints of Dinosaurs. The state park has some of the better preserved dinosaur tracks to be found in the United States and around the World. Some of the tracks are down at the river, so they can be hidden when the river is flowing higher. Droughts in the last few years in Texas have made it possible to visit the state park and see the prints easier. To show visitors what they may see two fiberglass models have been created. One is of a 70- foot Apatosaurus and the other is a 45 foot Tyrannosaurus Rex. The models were built due to a request of Sinclair Oil Company. They wanted to take the models to the New York World's Fair Dinosaur Exhibit, where they stayed from 1964 to 1965.
The park provides more than just dinosaur footprints. It is possible to camp, hike, picnic, and mountain bike throughout the park. There is a separate 100 acres for equestrian use. For those who feel they are strong enough they can swim in the river. However, the river does not have a lifeguard, so it is swim at your own risk. Fishing and wildlife observation are two other options at Dinosaur Valley State Park.
From the state park a number of other attractions in Glen Rose are available. It is possible to reach Meridian State Park, Cleburne State Park, and Acton State Historic site from the Dinosaur area. Other options include Somervell County Museum, Somervell County Expo Center and Amphitheatre, Comanche Peak Visitor's Center and much more.
At Dinosaur State Park the facilities include campsites with water and electrical hook-ups. There are picnic tables, a fire ring or grill, and restrooms with showers. For those who want to backpack a little ways into the park there are additional sites 1 to 2.5 miles in. The North Primitive area is so named because there are no facilities in the area. Water is available at the trail head, but it is a far walk. Dinosaur Valley State Park does have 12 miles of hiking and bike trails. There is also a fireplace near the camping area that can be used.
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