So I am sensing a theme over the past couple of days...could it be possible that I love dinosaur fossils?!? Yes!!! We stopped in Clayton, NM to stretch our legs during our drive from Colorado and just happened to pass a dinosaur display on our way through town.
There was pretty much no debate at that point. Getting back to West Texas at a reasonable hour? No longer an option. Our attempt at an hour detour turned into several hours, but we had a lot of fun. Clayton Lake State Park claims to have one of the highest concentrations and diversity (at least 8 species) of preserved dinosaur tracks in the world, and I can see why. Despite my love of dinosaurs, I have gotten to see very few in-place dinosaur tracks and have not yet been able to visit Dinosaur Valley State Park outside of Dallas/Ft. Worth. The couple of places that I have visited have had 2-4 preserved prints (still very cool), while Clayton Lake claims to have over 500 (wow!). While they are not all obvious, many are excellent.
The entry fee for the park was $5. The visitor's center looked very nice, but was closed when we arrived, so we filled out our permit slip and deposited our fee into the box at one of the several information stations (there is one at the entrance of the parking area for the dinosaur tracks). The walk was only 1/4 mile each way, but it was hot and its easy to stay at the tracks longer than planned, so bring water. The trail was level and easy, but not paved, and a set of stairs leads you down to the footprints.
At the end of the trail was a pavilion with information about the tracks.
And now, on to the tracks!!!
There were also informative signs along the boardwalk to explain what you were seeing. This sign explains the footprints seen in the picture above.
In addition to dinosaur tracks, there are also fossilized remains of worm burrows, palm fronds (pictured above), possible leaves and an area where they think a dinosaur used its tail to balance itself in the mud.
There were plenty of tracks and imprints to see and speculate about, but there was also beautiful scenery and plenty of wildlife including Mule deer, dragonflies, damselflies, bunnies, birds, and an unusual looking cricket (unfortunately, I did not get a good picture). Highlights of the birds included a Greater Roadrunner, Say's Phoebes, Rock Wrens, an Ash-throated Flycatcher, a Green-tailed Towhee, Lark Sparrows, a Red-tailed Hawk, and swirling Turkey Vultures.
More information can be found here:
Biologist by training, curious by nature.
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