Where to see dinosaurs in Utah

By Ben Tullis

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 26 2014 4:40 p.m. MDT

Diplodocus and Tyrannosaurus at the Utah Field House of Natural History in Vernal

Deseret News Archive

Although dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago, they remain alive in people's imaginations — particularly children's.

And Utah has plenty of venues that showcase the bones and other evidence of dinosaurs' existence.

“Utah is such a popular place for dinosaurs because we have so many sites from all of the various ages … and we’re discovering new stuff all of the time, and that’s exciting,” said Rick Hunter, a staff paleontologist at the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.

The dinosaur venues in Utah vary in size, but all are geared toward families, particularly younger children, and they help visitors appreciate the incredible size and unique features of these prehistoric creatures.

Following is a list of places where people can see dinosaurs in Utah. Note: This list is not all-inclusive.

Ogden's George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park

Walking outside in the George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park isn’t like going through a museum where dinosaur skeletons are the main exhibit. Visitors to this park can walk the grounds and see life-size replicas of dinosaurs as they may have looked when they roamed the earth millions of years ago.

Dinosaur Park features a "collection of creatures from prehistoric crawlers, to predators, to marine animals and even flying reptiles," according to the Dinosaur Park website. "More than 100 dinosaur sculptures fill the park. These realistic, full-sized sculptures are based on actual fossil skeletons and are brought to life by robotics, artistic details and a state-of-the-art sound system."

The sculptures include dinosaurs that were once indigenous to Utah, including Triceratops, Utahraptor, Parasaurolophus and Ceratosaurus. In addition to the dinosaur sculptures, Dinosaur Park also has an education center, a museum and facilities for special events, such as birthday parties. The park also offers Dino Day Camps and Adventures in Art.

The George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park is located in Ogden and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Sept. 1, after which it closes at 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and does not open on Sundays. Admission is $7 for adults (18-61), $6 for seniors (62 and older) and students (13-17) and $5 for children (2-12). Infants (1 and under) are free.

Natural History Museum of Utah

Featured in the May issue of “National Geographic,” the Natural History Museum of Utah is unique because of the many newly discovered dinosaur species that are stored there.

“We have a super-active research program that’s going out and finding these new fossils,” said Randall Irmis, curator of paleontology at the museum. “We are tasked with taking care of those (fossils) for the long term … and then putting (them) on display so people can come and see how awesome the dinosaurs are.”

The newest dinosaur on display, Lythronax argestes, was discovered in Utah and is an older relative of Tyrannosaurus rex. The museum has the only complete skeleton of Lythronax argestes in the world.

The Natural History Museum of Utah focuses on Utah’s ancient past and is built on the shoreline of the ancient Lake Bonneville.

“We’re the state natural history museum, so we really want to focus on what’s special about the state of Utah, whether that is dinosaurs or the Great Salt Lake or other cool things about the biology, geology, paleontology and anthropology of the state," Irmis said. "We’re a public institution, so we want to be the starting point for people to check out the state, and then hopefully they’re encouraged to go out and explore Utah once they come here and they want to actually go out and see some of these places."

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