June 30 – July 6, 2018
Join The New York Times, known for its coverage of dinosaurs, on this specially designed, seven-day adventure to western Colorado’s “Red Rock Country,” aimed at children ages 7 to 12. Dig in an active quarry, go behind the scenes in a paleontology laboratory, ride horses to the magnificent Colorado National Monument and float the Colorado River through towering red sandstone canyons.
This exclusive adventure explores one of the richest dinosaur areas in the American West. Children will dig alongside scientists in an active quarry where bones from seven species of dinosaurs have been found. Families explore the entire dinosaur-hunting process, from prospecting to laboratory preparation of fossils. Other activities include hiking, rafting and horseback riding. This week in Colorado provides a wonderful opportunity to engage and learn with your children or grandchildren, and free time away from them. Families have daily scavenger hunts while they discover, excavate and even collect fossils to win prizes. Each night, return to a comfortable hotel (with a pool and playground). Spend a week learning together for fun.
Welcome to Western Colorado
Arrive in Grand Junction and check into your hotel. Just 28 miles east of the Utah border at the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers, Grand Junction is nestled between towering rock formations and lush mountain ranges. This evening, meet your fellow Times travelers for a welcome dinner and orientation.
Split Rock Dinosaur Area
Spend the morning hiking the “bone yard” at the Split Rock Dinosaur Area learning to distinguish bone from rock in this prehistoric landscape. (It’s harder than it looks!) The national park here has petroglyphs as well as dino bones: More than 1,500 dinosaur bones are on display in the Quarry Exhibit Hall. Have lunch at the Dinosaur Journey Museum and discover life-size robotic dinosaurs and hands-on exhibitions. Make your own dinosaur tracks! Later this afternoon, hike about 1.5 miles in the spectacular red rock canyons of Colorado National Monument, keeping an eye out for red-tailed hawks, coyotes and even bighorn sheep.
Horseback Rides and Dinosaur Tracks
Take a horseback or wagon ride through the front country of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area at the base of the Colorado National Monument. Watch for jackrabbits, the collard lizard and beautiful flowering cactuses. Picnic on the banks of West Creek in Unaweep Canyon, and cool off in the creek’s clear, flowing waters. Then visit an actual Jurassic dinosaur trackway site to make track rubbings and learn about how dinosaurs moved.
It’s time to get dirty! The Mygatt-Moore Quarry was an ancient watering hole that once attracted thousands of dinosaurs. This exciting day begins with a hike on the “Trail Through Time” to identify large fragments of dinosaur skeletons that have been embedded in place for 145 million years. Then learn excavation techniques and get to work in the Mygatt-Moore Quarry, where over 5,000 bones and fossils from seven distinct species of dinosaurs have been discovered. Apatosaurus and Allosaurus finds are common here: Maybe you’ll find a new bone or tooth!
In the Lab, Hunting Fossils
Go behind the scenes in a paleontology laboratory to learn how fossils are cleaned, identified and preserved. Then visit an artist’s studio to see how dinosaur fossil casts are created. Later, drive up from the desert canyons of the Grand Valley to the 8,000-foot Douglas Pass to hunt for plant and insect fossils in a high alpine forest.
Rafting the Colorado River
Time for some cool fun! Today, you’ll raft the Colorado River through the red rock country of Ruby and Horsethief canyons. Float past miles of towering red sandstone canyons and see huge boulders, Precambrian schist and evidence of the Fremont Indian culture, including petroglyphs. Stop for a picnic lunch along the river. A festive dinner celebrates a remarkable week with family and new friends.
After breakfast, head to the airport for your flights home. Hope you’re tired but happy!