ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Diggin' For Dinosaurs - Grand Valley

Updated on March 30, 2010

Look for gray X's marking the midpoint of each vertebra. A humerus juts out from the base of the rock; another rock nearby broke away from this arm bone but still bears an impression in the shape of the fossil.

The trail winds past angular boulders of conglomerate sandstone, colored with sea foam and rust lichen, and other rocks coated in dark desert varnish. Embedded in some of these darker rocks are tan shards of petrified wood, which are especially noticeable just past the sheltered bench at the halfway point.

Jurassic-age Morrison Formation rock layers, visible from the high point of the trail, have a distinct greenish tint. This means that they formed under standing water with little air reaching the sediment - advantageous conditions for preserving fossils.

Farther along the trail, four arching sauropod tail vertebrae appear on a rock face. The U-shaped concavity at the base of each backbone distinguishes these as coming from Diplodocus, an 80-foot-long vegetarian. An adjacent gap in the rock here contained limb bones, until the block was cut out and carted off by vandals shortly before the trail's dedication in 1986. That's the risk of such an outdoor exhibit, but Bureau of Land Management palaeontologists Harley Armstrong, the trail's inspiration and official guardian, is determined to educate potential fossil filchers about laws protecting old bones.

Unmarked rocks near the end of the trail contain reddish dinosaur bone fragments, and an Allosaurus leg was found clasped in the roots of a nearby juniper. The last marked fossil stop contains bits of neck vertebrae from what may be either Camptosaurus or Iguanodon. If the latter, it would be much older than any other specimen of this dinosaur.

Along the road to Colorado National Monument in Fruita, 20 miles east of Rabbit Valley, the trail over Dinosaur Hill passes the site where, in 1901, Elmer Riggs of the Field Museum of Natural History bagged one of the finest examples of Apatosaurus excelsus ever found. Although the head, neck, and shoulders had eroded away, Riggs got the rear two-thirds of the skeleton, and part of the tail may still lie deep in the hill. A recent excavation found a few more fragments, as well as a shovel and broom dating to Riggs' excavation. Now the site is immortalized with a bronze plaque that misspells the six-ton behemoth's name much to the disgrace of the memory of the scientists and researchers who worked so hard there.

At the head of this one-mile loop trail, you can see atop a boulder the imprint from a Diplodocus femur. Bronze-headed, lime-green collared lizards dart underfoot as you wind up to the summit, where a bench entices you to admire the view of the Book Cliffs, Grand Mesa, and the monument.

Just outside Grand Junction, surrounded by subdivisions, is Riggs Hill, where Riggs and H.W. Menke struck sauropod gold on July 4, 1900, by unearthing the remains of Brachiosaurus altithorax, the largest dinosaur ever found up to that time. Cement "vertebrae" and a plaque mark the discovery site.

Continued in: Diggin' For Dinosaurs - Dinosaur National Monument

Back To Start


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)