Dinosaur Tracks Trail

 

The Dinosaur Tracks Trail is a short, easy hike to a unique dinosaur trackway on a tilted boulder face above the Colorado River. The site, an open-air museum, offers a unique view into ancient lives that occupied an alien world at this very spot on the planet. Before hiking to the trackway, locate the flat angled rock face that harbors it on the cliff terraces opposite the pit toilet and the trailhead. The obvious boulder is poised on the skyline above a couple cliff bands.

The trail starts on the right-hand side of the toilets and descends a short hill. The edges of the dirt trail are lined with rocks. As you near the base of the first cliff band, look up and you’ll see the dark flat boulder face with the tracks. Scramble up left along a sandstone ramp then back right across a sloping terrace below a cliff band. At the right side of the cliff, climb a short smooth slab to the dinosaur tracks.

Dinosaur tracks, more than any other kind of dinosaur fossil, are the closest we can ever come to these long extinct creatures. If we use our imaginations, they offer a glimpse into a long vanished world from the Jurassic period some 150 million years ago. Dinosaur tracks are dynamic evidence and a momentary record of a living and breathing animal that once stalked the Moab area and offer clues to dinosaur behavior.

The largest tracks on this boulder were made by the three-toed feet of an Allosaurus, a fierce upright predator with dozens of sharp teeth and small arms. The dinosaur walked across a muddy sandbar, leaving imprints of its giant feet, in a lost world with an inland sea, wide rivers, and a dense tropical forest. Water then buried the tracks with sediment, which hardened into sandstone over millions of years before they were exposed by erosion. Other smaller dinosaur tracks are also found on the boulder face as well as on other stone slabs on the hillside.

Hike Details

Overview: Families with dinosaur enthusiasts (of all ages) will enjoy this interesting short hike to a large boulder with dinosaur tracks above the Colorado River.

Distance: 0.2 mile out and back

Approximate hiking time: 15 to 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy; 50-foot elevation gain

Trail surface: Single-track dirt trail

Best season: Year-round

Other trail users: None

Canine compatibility: Dogs allowed on leash

Fees and permits: No fee

Maps: USGS Moab, Moab Trails Illustrated Explorer

Trail contacts: Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Moab Field Office, 82 E. Dogwood, Moab 84532; (435) 259-2100; website

Finding the trailhead: From Moab, drive northwest on US 191 to a left (south) turn on UT 279/Potash Road (1.3 miles west of the Colorado River Bridge). Drive south on UT 279 for 6 miles to a right turn to the signed Poison Spider Mesa trailhead for mountain bikes, ATVs, and jeeps. Drive 0.1 mile up the short dirt road to a large parking area with a pit toilet and information kiosk. The Dinosaur Track Trailhead is on the north side of the lot.

Trailhead GPS: N 38 31.973', W 109 36.521'


Trail to Dinosaur Tracks, Potash Road, Near Moab, Utah by Ken Lund