Dinosaur State Park: A Good Pit Stop

Stop in for a picnic lunch and explore the museum, craft room, and more than two miles of nature trails through the Dinosaur Park State Arboretum.

In Rocky Hill, CT, just a wee bit south of Hartford you’ll find a geodesic dome built over an expanse of sedimentary rock with one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. Inside, you’ll see life-size Jurassic and Triassic period dioramas depicting life in prehistoric Rocky Hill, Connecticut and you'll also see actual dinosaur skeletons, dinosaur footprints, fossils, and learning exhibits.

Five hundred footprints is nothing to sneeze at
The footprints were discovered in 1966 when excavators were digging out to set a foundation for a new state building. The workers found 2,000 footprints (500 of them are on display under the dome, the rest are buried for preservation). The tracks were laid down 200 million years ago.

Did dinosaurs eat walnuts?
In the early dinosaur days, most of the plants we see today were already established: conifers (cone-bearing), ferns, horsetails and ginkos. Missing were the flowering plants, whose pollen first appears in the fossil record about 140 million years ago, and who were prolific by 90 million years ago. The same Laurel, magnolia, sycamore and beach species that we have today were growing back then at the end of the Cretaceous period. Walnuts, barberry, elm and mulberry were prevalent then, and there’s a good chance some species of dinosaur ate walnuts, but there’s no evidence that dinosaur children played All Around the Mulberry Bush. The arboretum has more than 200 conifer species, including such exotics as cedar-of-Lebanon, giant-sequoia, incense-cedar, and monkey puzzle tree.

Cost: $5 for adults, $2 for kids ages 6-12, free for kids under 6.

Open daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Trails close at 4 p.m.

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