DINOSAUR STATE PARK
If you like dinosaurs, you'll love our 200 million-year-old fossil trackway, interactive exhibits and the chance to cast your own dinosaur footprint to take home.
The Connecticut Valley has a long history of fossil track discoveries. Outstanding specimens uncovered in 19th century brownstone quarries found their way into museums throughout the world. A new chapter in the history of such discoveries was written in 1966 when hundreds of tracks were exposed in Rocky Hill. This remarkable site became Dinosaur State Park.
Connecticut has made state parks, forests, trails, historic sites and beaches more accessible to our residents so they can enjoy the many attractions and beauty they offer. Under the Passport to the Parks program, parking fees are now eliminated at Connecticut State Parks for those with Connecticut registered vehicles. You can view the CONNECTICUT PASSPORT TO THE PARKS
web page to learn more.
Dinosaur State Park is located near Avon, Berlin and Bloomfield
The Connecticut Valley has a long history of fossil track discoveries. Outstanding specimens uncovered in 19th century brownstone quarries found their way into museums throughout the world. A new chapter in the history of such discoveries was written in 1966 when hundreds of tracks were exposed in Rocky Hill. This site became what is now Dinosaur State Park. The trackway, preserved in place, is a Registered Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.
Purpose: This EarthCache is created by the Connecticut Geological and Natural History Survey of the Department of Environmental Protection. This is the first in a series of EarthCache sites designed to promote an understanding of the geological and biological wealth of the State of Connecticut.
Supplies: You will need a measuring tape and park trail map. Spoilers may be included in the descriptions or links.
Directions: Exit 23 off I-91 in Rocky Hill, CT. Follow park's signs east on West Street for approximately 1 mile. The park is directly off West Street. Watch for signs and a large geodesic dome. No cost to park and walk grounds.
History of the Park: In August 1966, bulldozer operator Edward McCarthy was excavating a rocky site for a state building. He turned over a slab of gray sandstone and saw something very exciting: six large, three-toed footprints.
Officials, local scientists and the media were notified, and the news of the discovery quickly spread. Many more tracks were uncovered and the site was fenced in and guarded. Within a few weeks officials decided to preserve the site as a state park. Two seasons of careful excavation resulted in one of the largest on-site displays of dinosaur tracks in the world.
Anyone who likes dinosaurs and plans to undertake the EarthCache should allow time to experience this incredible park. In addition to the 200 million year old fossil trackway there are interactive exhibits and the chance to cast your own dinosaur footprint to take home. Contact the park on materials you need to bring to makes these molds. There are several nature trails that are also of interest. One is the blue trail that hosts a board walk over a classic red maple swamp, a natural spring and at the furthest bench, traprock ridge views of a forested area below. The 10 acre arboretum surrounding the Exhibit Center have conifer trees and plants that grew in the Mesozoic Era, such as gingkos, dawn redwoods and magnolia.
- Red Trail: A 2.5-mile loop that takes hikers through a variety of habitats, including mixed hardwood forest and wetlands.
- Blue Trail: This trail is approximately one mile long and features several interpretive signs about the park's geology and paleontology.
- Yellow Trail: At just under half a mile in length, this short but scenic route offers views of an old quarry site.
- Green Nature Walkway: An easy quarter-mile walk with informational plaques detailing local flora and fauna; suitable for all ages.
- Orange Loop Connector Trails (1 & 2): These two trails connect different sections of the main loops together to create longer or shorter hikes as desired by visitors.
- Purple Picnic Area Pathway : Less than half-a-mile path leading from picnic area towards other hiking routes within Dinosaur State Park
- White Main Entrance Route : Short pathway connecting parking lot to visitor center entrance
- Black Handicap Accessible Boardwalks : Two boardwalk paths designed for wheelchair accessibility around key areas like outdoor dinosaur track casting area
Visit Dinosaur State Park where your students can explore a museum and enjoy the outdoors in one field trip, while meeting Connecticut Core Science Standards. The Park features over 500 Early Jurassic dinosaur footprints preserved in place inside the museum, alongside interactive exhibits about dinosaurs, evolution, and Connecticut geology. The Park has guided programs throughout the school year for grades 1 and up. Your visit will begin with a slide presentation, followed by a guided tour of the trackway and a participatory activity with the following themes:
Grades 1-5 Fun with Fossils - Travel back in time to learn what Connecticut was like at the time of the dinosaurs, and what we can learn about dinosaurs from their footprints and other fossils. Students will examine a variety of fossils and dinosaur models to learn about what made dinosaurs unique. Core Science Standards 1.2, 3.2, 4.2, 4.3
Grades 3-5 Rocks & Minerals Around Us - The rocks and minerals around us tell a story of dramatic changes in Connecticut over hundreds of millions of years. We also use many of these materials in our lives today. Students will examine samples of rocks and minerals from around Connecticut, explore their distinctive properties, and discuss ways we use these materials. Core Science Standards 3.1, 3.3, 4.3
Grades 6-8 Connecticut Landforms - The Connecticut landscape around us today was shaped over hundreds of millions of years by colliding continents, erupting lava, flowing water, and massive ice sheets. Students will learn how these forces interacted by examining the shape of the land surface and samples of bedrock from key locations around the state. Core Science Standard 7.3
Grades 9-12 Evolution - Find out how the dinosaur footprints in Connecticut relate to the larger story of evolution through time, beginning with Earth's earliest lifeforms and leading to the rise of the mammals in the Cenozoic. Choose from a timeline activity examining key evolutionary events, or a fossil-dating activity. Core Science Standard 10.5
Grades 9-12 Earth Systems - The dinosaur footprints and rocks found in Connecticut provide evidence for the cycling of matter and energy through the Earth system. Students will examine rock samples from Connecticut and piece together the exciting story of moving plates and changing environments that made Connecticut what it is today. Core Science Standards 9.1, 9.4, 9.5, 9.7, and 9.8
Guided programs are approximately 1? hours in length.
Explore the Connecticut River aboard the R/V River Quest, an environmentally friendly 64', 60 passenger vessel docked at Eagle Landing State Park, Haddam, CT.
13 miles from park*
Exit 23 off I-91 in Rocky Hill. Follow parks signs east on West Street for approximately 1 mile. The park is directly off West Street. Watch for signs and a large geodesic dome.