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Take a Family Trip Out West and Channel Your Inner Paleontologist

by Holly Riddle

Aug 30, 2019

Elizaveta Galitskaya | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

The western United States — primarily Colorado, Montana and Wyoming — are hot beds of paleontologic activity. If you have a budding paleontologist in your family, book one of these experiences for your next vacation.


Museums of Western Colorado Dinosaur Digs and Expeditions

The Museums of Western Colorado Paleontology Division takes families on to real dig sites in Colorado and the American Southwest. Nearly every day of the week throughout the summer, you and your family can get an introduction to paleontology field work, with training from real paleontologists. They’ll equip you with all the tools you need, as you look for Jurassic dinosaurs like Apatosaurus and Allosaurus.


After you spend a day getting your hands dirty in the quarry, the excursion ends with a guided tour of the paleo lab. The day starts and ends at the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado, and the excursion is open to children 5 and up. The price is $140 per participant and when you buy one full-price adult ticket, you get your child’s ticket for $90.

Beginning about 1915, Thomas Boylan used 5,796 dinosaur bones from nearby Como Bluff to build this cabin. Photo: Sandra Foyt | Dreamstime.com

Wyoming Dinosaur Center’s Dig for a Day

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center has found more than 10,000 bones at its excavation site just a 10-minute drive from the center itself. Your family can get in on the scientific fun any day of the week, May 25–Sept. 15. The experience starts with a brief introduction at the center to learn about digging techniques and local geology and paleontology. The day at the dig includes a picnic lunch and plenty of time for you to search for the various fossils known to be on the site, including fossils from dinosaurs such as Camarasaurus, Diplodocus, Apatosaurus and Allosaurus. If you do find a fossil, the on-site technicians will show you how to preserve and document it for display at the center. The experience is $150 for adults, $100 for children 12 and under.


Tate Museum Dinosaur Digs

For a longer experience for families with older children, sign up for one of Casper College’s Tate Museum Dinosaur Digs. Interested individuals ages 16 and up join small groups at the Tate Geological Museum excavation sites for six days throughout the summer. Depending on the dates of your dig, you’ll dig in different areas for different dinosaurs. The trips are run by the museum’s field operations and prep lab manager. Participants work right alongside paleontologists and, while all samples found are property of the museum, you can usually bring home a few samples of bone if you ask nicely. Fees include lodging, meals and ground transportation.


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