Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum
|Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum|
|Connecticut state park|
|Elevation||187 ft (57 m) |
|Area||63 acres (25 ha)|
|Management||Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection|
|Website: Dinosaur State Park|
Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum is a unique 63-acre (25 ha) state park located 20 minutes south of Hartford at 400 West Street, Rocky Hill, Connecticut, USA. It contains one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America, with early Jurassic fossil tracks in sandstone from about 200 million years ago.
The Connecticut Valley has extensive fossil discoveries, some dating to the Jurassic period. Specimens uncovered in brownstone quarries during the 1800s are found in the collections of museums throughout the world. History was made in 1966 when hundreds of dinosaur tracks were exposed in Rocky Hill by a bulldozer operator who was excavating for a new state building. The site became Dinosaur State Park, which became a Registered National Landmark in 1968.
Dinosaur State Park is one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. The tracks are from the early Jurassic period and were made over 200 million years ago by a carnivorous dinosaur similar to Dilophosaurus. At present, 500 tracks are enclosed within a 55,000-square-foot (5,100 m2) geodesic dome; the remaining 1,500 are buried for preservation. The park's in-site tracks are Eubrontes, named by Edward Hitchcock, pioneering student of fossilized tracks and one of America's first geologists. The tracks range from 10 to 16 inches (410 mm) in length and are spaced 3.5 to 4.5 feet (1.4 m) apart. The exhibit center also includes rock slabs with other Connecticut Valley fossil tracks, including large four-toed Otozoum tracks with clearly visible skin impressions.
In addition to the tracks, the dome houses life-sized dioramas depicting the Triassic and Jurassic periods, complete with common plants and creatures, and including the aforementioned Dilophosaurus. There are also several interactive displays, a reconstruction of a geologic foundation, and highlights of the tracks’ discovery as well as a discovery room with lizards, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and dinosaur arts and crafts.
The arboretum's goal is to grow representatives of as many Mesozoic Era plant families as possible on the site. It currently contains more than two miles (3 km) of nature trails with more than 250 species and cultivars of conifers, plus collections of arborvitae, chamaecyparis, ginkgo, juniper, katsura, pine, and magnolia. Some rarer species in the arboretum's collection include the evergreen southern magnolia and monkey puzzle. Recent plantings have focused on woody plants from the Cretaceous angiosperm families.
Events and activities
During Dinosaur State Park Day, usually held each year in August, almost 2,000 visitors come to the state park to participate in games, experiment with arts and crafts, and listen to live music, while also visiting the indoor and outdoor features of the park. Events and prizes are funded by the Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum, as well as 25 other sponsors such as Subway, Starbucks and Big Y.
The arboretum's auditorium shows educational films on weekends on a rotating schedule. Other activities include educational programs centered around guided trail walks and lectures. During warmer months, visitors can create their own track casts in the track casting area.
Park hours and admission
The park grounds are open daily 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Trails close at 4:00 p.m. The exhibit center is open 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tuesday thru Sunday (closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day). The cost is $6 for adults and teens (13 and over); $2 for youths (ages 6-12); and free for children five and under.
- Connecticut River Valley trackways
- List of botanical gardens in the United States
- List of fossil sites (with link directory)
- "Dinosaur State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 1 April 1993. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Dinosaur State Park". State Parks and Forests. Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- Beckius, Kim Knox. "Walk with the Dinosaurs: Local Landmark: Dinosaur State Park". New England Travel. About.com. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Dinosaur State Park". Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "The Arboretum of Evolution". Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Dinosaur State Park Day". Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- Dinosaur State Park Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
- Dinosaur State Park Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum
- The Arboretum of Evolution Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum