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Dinosaur Valley State Park Guide — Camping, Fishing, and More

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
Amar Hussain's image

Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

Countries Visited: 44U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas, attracts around 250,000 visitors annually to explore where prehistoric dinosaurs once roamed. Its primary attraction is the preserved dinosaur tracks that can be seen throughout the park.

Besides viewing the ancient footprints, visitors can enjoy various activities such as camping, fishing, hiking, and guided programs. No matter your interest, you’ll find plenty to discover at this state park.

How To Get to Dinosaur Valley State Park

Where Is Dinosaur Valley State Park?

This state park is located in Glen Rose, Texas. The closest major cities are Dallas and Fort Worth. It takes approximately 1.5 hours from Dallas to get to this park and an hour from Fort Worth.  

Dinosaur Valley State Park Opening Hours and Seasons

This state park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There are times that trails close due to inclement weather or wet conditions. 

Nearest Airports To Dinosaur Valley State Park

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is the best airport option for those flying to this state park. It is about 80 minutes from Dinosaur Valley State Park. 

This airport offers dozens of nonstop flights to major cities, including Atlanta, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, and West Palm Beach. The list of connecting flights is even longer. Some airlines serviced here include American, Delta, and United.

Once you arrive, several rental car agencies can help you arrange a vehicle to take you to the park.

Driving To Dinosaur Valley State Park

U.S. Highway 67 is the starting point for those driving to this state park. Take Highway 67 to FM 205 and continue for 4 miles until you reach Park Road 59. From this point, you will drive a mile to the park headquarters.

Taking the Train to Dinosaur Valley State Park

There is no train service to Dinosaur Valley State Park, but Amtrak has a station less than 30 miles away. The closest you can get to the park by train is Cleburne. You must arrange transportation to the park by taxi or ride-share from the station. This is a great, affordable way to enjoy the journey to the park. 

Taking the Bus to Dinosaur Valley State Park

Another great way to visit this park is by bus. Although there is no direct service to the park, an Omnibus Express station is located nearby in Garland. It takes approximately 90 minutes to reach the park by car from this station.

Getting Around Dinosaur Valley State Park

The best way to get around this state park is to combine driving and walking. There are several parking areas around Dinosaur Valley. You can park your car and walk to the various sites and attractions. The park offers a map on its website to help you plan your park adventures. 

What To See and Do in Dinosaur Valley State Park

There is no shortage of incredible sights and activities at Dinosaur Valley State Park. From viewing dinosaur tracks from prehistoric times to kayaking, and from guided tours to stargazing, there is something every visitor can enjoy here. Take a look at the popular ways to experience this park. 

Dinosaur Models

Dinosaur Models
Image Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

There are 2 massive dinosaur models on display at Dinosaur Valley State Park. These models show the apatosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus rex. One of these models stands at 70 feet, while the other measures 45 feet tall. You can see their immense size and learn more about these prehistoric animals near the park headquarters.

The dinosaur models were initially displayed at the New York City World’s Fair of 1964 and 1965. They were donated to the park in 1970 by the Atlantic Richfield Company. Kids and adults alike enjoy standing in awe of these larger-than-life creatures. 

Dinosaur Tracks

Visitors visit Dinosaur Valley State Park mainly to see the prehistoric dinosaur tracks. The tracks can be viewed in 5 areas throughout the park. The most popular location is the Main Strack Site, with several theropod tracks on display and a long sequence of sauropod tracks that head south in this area.

Hot Tip:

The best time to view the dinosaur tracks is when the river is low, late in summer.

Fishing

Fishing is a popular activity at Dinosaur Valley State Park, thanks to the Paluxy River. This is an activity that doesn’t need a permit or fishing license. You can fish for free if you pay your entrance fee. Some fish that can be caught in this river include yellow catfish, striped bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, and common carp.  

Ranger-Led Programs

Many guided programs are offered regularly, often multiple times a day, to teach visitors the fascinating history of this park and about the dinosaurs that once roamed its grounds.

Some of the favorite programs here include Overlook Hike, Coffee Chats, Track Talks, and Atlatl Dart Throwing. This is an excellent way to learn and have your questions answered by a local expert. 

Hiking

There are over 20 miles of trails that wind through this state park. The trails range in length and difficulty, providing options for hikers of every age and ability. These trails take visitors across the Paluxy River, along creeks and waterfalls, past bubbling springs, and through oak woodlands.

Some popular trails here include the Limestone Ledge Trail, Rocky Ridge Trail, Overlook Trail, and the Discovery Loop Trail. The park offers trail maps to help you plan the hikes you want to blaze during your visit. 

Kayaking

Kayaking
Image Credit: Chase A. Fountain via TPWD

The Paluxy River is an excellent place for kayaking. This river has deep and shallow areas, and kayaking is permitted everywhere in the park. The best way to kayak through this park is to start upstream and float back down. You can bring your kayak or rent one for a $25 daily fee. Exploring the park by paddling down the river provides an experience that can’t be had on land. 

Stargazing

Most people don’t think of stargazing when visiting this state park, but its dark skies make it an excellent location for taking in the night sky. The park hosts Star Parties throughout the year, where visitors can observe the stars, moon, galaxies, and constellations. 

Wildlife Watching

Wildlife abounds at this state park. There is a remarkable variety of animals, including birds, fish, and mammals. This park is a birdwatcher’s dream come true, as there are countless opportunities to see a wide array of birds. The range of birds is unbelievable, from wild turkeys to black-capped vireo to golden-cheeked warblers.

Hot Tip:

The list of mammals, including foxes, bobcats, squirrels, beavers, and armadillos, is also impressive.

Best Times To Visit

No matter when you visit this state park, you are guaranteed to be in for an exciting time. There are better times than others to visit, especially if you hope to participate in a particular activity or event.

Best Time To Visit for Ideal Weather

Weather can make or break a trip, so researching weather trends is wise when planning a vacation. April is the best time to visit this state park for ideal weather. The temperatures range from the upper 40s to 80 degrees, and there’s not as much rain as some of the other months get. 

Best Time To Visit To Avoid the Crowds

A visit to a park this interesting could mean you are in for long lines and lots of crowds. If you hope to visit when the crowds are few, plan to come in October. This time of year will allow you to explore the park at your own pace without the stress of crowds and long lines. 

Best Time To Visit for Viewing Dinosaur Tracks

Dinosaur Valley State Park Dinosaur Tracks
Image Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

When planning a visit to this park, viewing the dinosaur tracks is one of the main attractions you won’t want to miss. The best time to visit this park to see the dinosaur tracks is when the river is at its lowest. Late August is a great time to visit if you hope to get great views of these massive footprints.

Cheapest Time To Visit

Vacation and budget are 2 words that don’t typically go hand in hand. However, with a bit of planning and research, you can go easy on your budget when visiting this park. The best time to visit this park and save money is in late January. This is when flights and accommodations are at their lowest during the year, which means you could save hundreds of dollars in travel expenses. 

Annual Events

Dinosaur Valley State Park regularly hosts a variety of programs, such as guided hikes, coffee with rangers, and track talks. Several events take place annually that are looked forward to by locals and visitors alike.

Dino Dive

The Dino Dive is an event on January 1st each year. This event is for visitors of all ages. Participants take the polar plunge into the Blue Hole, one of Texas’s most popular swimming holes. Some participants wear funny costumes, while others jump in in their bathing suits. This is one of the most exciting events at Dinosaur Valley National Park. Those who take the plunge will receive a medal, an authentic dinosaur tooth, and bragging rights. 

Haunted Hikes

Each year, the last weekend of October, the park hosts a haunted hike throughout the park. Visitors can explore the dark woods and brave the ghouls. This event is appropriate for guests ages 12 and up. There is a fee of $7 per hiker, and proceeds go to the Friends of Dinosaur Valley State Park. 

Where To Stay in Dinosaur Valley State Park

There are plenty of places to make a home base during your visit to this state park. Whether you stay within the park boundaries or in a nearby town, there’s a perfect choice for everyone.

Inside the Park

Dinosaur Valley State Park Campsite
Image Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The only lodging option within this park’s boundaries is to set up camp under the stars. The campsites are made up of a combination of campsites with electricity, primitive sites, and group sites.

The campsites with electricity feature water and electricity hookups, picnic tables, and fire rings. The primitive sites are walk-in or hike-in and provide a rustic experience in the great outdoors.

Bottom Line:

Whether you decide to camp in a more developed area or at one of the primitive sites, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience at Dinosaur Valley State Park.

Towns Near Dinosaur Valley State Park

There are several options for accommodations near this state park, should camping not be up your alley. You can find several small towns within a short distance from the park and larger ones within an hour’s drive.

Glen Rose, Texas

Glen Rose is where Dinosaur Valley State Park is located, so this is an ideal place to set up a home base when visiting this park. This town has a variety of lodging options, restaurants, and attractions. Guests can choose from reputable hotels, quaint inns, and lodges for accommodations.

The restaurants range from cultural cuisine to mom-and-pop style diners. Guests enjoy touring the park and other exciting places like the nearby wildlife center, museums, and historic landmarks. There’s no closer option for setting up a base camp than Glen Rose. 

Granbury, Texas

Granbury is another popular town near Dinosaur Valley State Park. It takes approximately 30 minutes to get to this town from the park. Restaurants, lodging, recreation, you name it, this town’s got it. There are hotels, lodges, and affordable motels in this town. The dining scene is a food lover’s paradise. There are steakhouses, barbecue smokehouses, cafes, and elegant dining rooms. For entertainment, visitors enjoy touring the Historic Granbury Square and spending the day at Granbury City Beach Park

Where To Eat in Dinosaur Valley State Park

There aren’t any restaurants within the boundaries of Dinosaur Valley State Park, but there are plenty of options just minutes away. Whether you are in the mood for traditional local fare or something new and exciting, there’s something everyone will enjoy near this park.

Hammonds Bar B Que

Hammonds Bar B Que is located in Glen Rose, about 10 minutes from the park. This restaurant serves authentic pit-smoked barbecue and homemade side dishes and desserts.

Brisket, smoked bologna, pork ribs, and hot links are some of the smoked specialties here, and the famous side items include fried okra, onion rings, potato salad, and homemade fries. Your meal isn’t complete without a slice of the chocolate pie or a dish of the Southern banana pudding. 

When hunger strikes during your visit to the park, you are just minutes away from some of the best barbecues in the world.

Loco Coyote Grill

Loco Coyote Grill is 11 miles from the park in Glen Rose. This family-friendly grill is a great place to grab a delicious meal, relax while listening to live music, and enjoy the views of Glen Rose.

The menu here serves BBQ, burgers, steak, seafood, and beer. Customers rave about the fried shrimp po’boy, smoked brisket, catfish dinner, and chicken fried steak. 

Check out this restaurant when visiting Dinosaur Valley State Park for a great meal and a good time.

Dinosaur Valley State Park Facts

Paluxy riverbed
Image Credit: Image Credit: Chase A. Fountain via TPWD

1. A New Park Established

This park was opened in 1972 to preserve dinosaur track sites and allow guests to view and learn from them.

2. Original Inhabitants of the Park

Archeologists believe that the Tonkawa Native American tribe inhabited this area of Texas. This tribe was composed of hunters and gatherers. They would hunt the local game, catch fish and mussels, and harvest pecans, walnuts, and wild grapes. 

3. Findings After a Flood

The Paluxy River was affected by a flood in 1908. This flood washed out bridges and culverts and washed the riverbed clean. A year after the flood, a 9-year-old discovered massive tracks in the river.

4. National Natural Landmark

This park was designated a national natural landmark by the National Park Service. Its incredible display of dinosaur tracks is what led to this honor. 

5. Types of Tracks

There are 2 types of dinosaur tracks found at this state park: sauropod and theropod. 

Final Thoughts

Dinosaur Valley State Park offers many opportunities for visitors to explore and enjoy. You can learn about prehistoric creatures that once roamed the area, view larger-than-life models of them, camp under the starry night skies, and discover the natural and cultural history of the park from knowledgeable park rangers.

This park has something for everyone, and it’s no wonder why so many tourists visit this Texas gem each year. Plan your trip and experience all that Dinosaur Valley State Park offers.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Dinosaur Valley State Park?

To enter this park, guests over 12 will pay an $8 daily fee. Children 12 and under can enter the park free of charge.

What are some nearby attractions I should check out when visiting Dinosaur Valley State Park?

There are many notable attractions near this state park. Some places you should explore include Barnard’s Mill and Art Museum, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, and Acton State Historic Site.

Can I bring my dog to Dinosaur Valley State Park?

Dogs are welcome at this state park if pet owners keep them leashed and supervised. Pet owners are also expected to clean up after pet waste and properly dispose of it.

Are reservations required to camp at Dinosaur Valley State Park?

Camping reservations are not required, but they are strongly recommended because the sites fill up quickly. Passes can be reserved online or over the phone with the customer service center.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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