Saturday, May 24, 2008

A "Jurassic Park" Where the Dinosaurs Won't Eat You

If you like dinosaurs, then Utah is an amazing state to be in. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but in my own search of museums in the state that are in whole, or in part, dedicated to dinosaurs, I have found twelve. TWELVE! That is more dinosaur museums than I've found in any other state.

Most people are familiar with Dinosaur National Monument that is located in Utah and Colorado, out near Vernal, Utah. But, are you familiar with any of the other dinosaur museums? There may be one closer to you than you realize.

One that is very unique and really geared towards both adults and children is Ogden's George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park. I remember the first time I took my kids to the park. They were enthralled with the dinosaurs that we found around every bend in the winding paths, and I was just as interested as they were. They nearly jumped out of their shoes when, after having just found a dinosaur, it roared loudly at them.

The Eccles Dinosaur Park has quite a few attractions that make it so much fun to visit. There are more than 100 life-sized statues of dinosaurs throughout the park, including predators, marine animals and flying reptiles, that are brought to life through attention to detail, robotics and sound systems.

Quite a few of the dinosaurs in the park were indigenous to Utah. Remember the Velociraptor from the "Jurassic Park" movies? Wuss! The park has a replica of the Utahraptor, a ferocious dinosaur discovered in 1993 in Grand County, that would have eaten Velociraptor's lunch.

Through movies and books we've become familiar with many types of dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops. What makes the Eccles Dinosaur Park so fascinating is that it also has replicas of truly weird species of dinosaurs from other parts of the world such as South America and Asia.

Before, or after you are done wandering the park, head into the Elizabeth Dee Shaw Stewart Museum. The museum contains many of the recent dinosaur fossil finds from around Utah and around the world. Full skeletons of dinosaurs are on display and you can watch people working in the lab to prepare more dinosaur bones and teeth for display.

Take the kids and go on over to the Geode Mine where they can dig for gems, pan for gold and crack geodes with the geode splitter. They can even keep the gems they find when they go digging.

The park also has an education center that my kids loved. They got to see exhibits and color dinosaurs pages to take home with them. There is a fun, dinosaur themed playground for the little ones and picnic tables scattered around the east side of the park.

Eccles Dinosaur Park is one of those places I've mentioned before that offer family memberships. A basic family membership will cost $60.

Spend a day with the dinosaurs (other than Barney). If your kids are anything like mine they'll enjoy the day and then exhaustedly fall asleep that night with smiles on their faces.

Place: Ogden's George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park
Location: 1544 East Park Boulevard, Ogden (located at the mouth of Ogden Canyon)
Phone: 801.393.3466
Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day, Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Off-season, Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Cost: Children 1 and Under: Free! 2 to 12 Years Old: $5.00; Students with ID: $6.00; Adults: $7.00; Senior Citizens 62+: $6.00

View Larger Map

Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 44.1 miles
Ogden (downtown): 3.6 miles
Provo: 85.8 miles
Logan: 49.3 miles

No comments: