Dinosaur State Park in Connecticut

 

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200 Word review on Dinosaur State Park

If you are near Hartford, CT, stop by one of our favorite activities we discovered on our road trips. About 10 miles from Hartford is Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, CT. I don’t remember how I found it but it was fun and educational. “Dinosaur State Park officially opened in 1968, two years after 2,000 dinosaur tracks were accidentally uncovered during excavation for a new state building. Five hundred of the tracks are now enclosed within the Exhibit Center’s geodesic dome.The remaining 1,500 are buried for preservation.” The geodesic dome was amazing! There were dinosaur tracks everywhere!

We enjoyed walking the trails but our favorite part of the park was the casting area. We made casts of actual dinosaur prints! There is a limit of one per person casting but each kid was able to make their own. You need to bring your own supplies (cooking oil, rags, paper towels, a bucket, and 10 pounds of Plaster-of-Paris). Many people leave their leftover supplies so don’t worry if you forget something. I wouldn’t rely on using the leftover supplies just in case there aren’t enough there. I included the directions to make a casting at the bottom of this post.

 

Important Info

FYI, this is not the National Park Service Dinosaur National Monument. That is on the Colorado and Utah border with a parts of the monument in both states. Click here for more information. I have not been here and am only adding it because, from the picture I’ve seen, it is very different from the Dinosaur State Park which I have been to and recommend.

Below is information found on the Dinosaur State Park web site. Please check their site for any updates.

The park is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

PARK GROUNDS 

The grounds and trails are open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Note: Pets are NOT allowed on the park’s hiking trails. They are only allowed in the picnic and open areas.

EXHIBIT CENTER

The Exhibit Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Center is handicapped-accessible.

The tracks are enclosed within the Exhibit Center which has more than 55,000 square feet of exhibit space.  Check the program and activities schedule for films and videos, track talks, narrated slide shows, and natural history walks. It is recommended that you allow at least 1-1/2 hours for your visit. You may also want to spend time visiting our nature trails, display gardens, and Arboretum. The Track Casting area is open May 1 through October 31.   Mining at the gem and fossil sluice is available during the summer.

 

Track Casting – a seasonal outdoor activity

Directions on how to make the casting.

Casting may be made at our Casting Area, Tuesday through Sunday, from May 1 to October 31 during the posted hours only: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The process does not work well in wet weather.

Instructions

Prepare to make ONE cast so that all visitors have the chance to participate.

The Park provides:

• Eubrontes tracks

• Metal rings

• Water

Visitors must provide:

• 1/4 cup cooking oil

• Cloth rags and paper towels • 5-gallon plastic bucket

• 10 pounds of Plaster-of-Paris (no substitutions) Instructions

The entire process takes about 30 to 45 minutes

1. Clear off the Eubrontes Track and metal ring with broom and rags. DO NOT USE WATER.

2. Oil the track and ring with your hands.

3. Center ring on the track and wrap rags around the outside of the ring.

4. Measure three (3) quarts of water (3/4 of one gallon jug). Pour into the bucket.

5. Add the ten pounds of Plaster-of-Paris to the water.

6. Stir the plaster mixture quickly with your hands until it is smooth and has the consistency of cake batter.

7. Immediately pour the mixture into the prepared ring.

8. When the cast is hard, carefully remove the rags and the ring. Then remove the cast from the rock.

Mine for Gems and Fossils – a seasonal activity

During the spring, mining is available on weekends. During the summer, this activity is available from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

To share in the experience, participants will need to purchase a bag of “mining rough” that is available in the Friends’ Bookshop. Mineral and gem or fossil bags are available. Prices range from $6 to $25 per bag. Staff and volunteers will be available to help you identify the fossils and minerals you have mined.

All quotes and information are from the Dinosaur State Park web site. Images were found on page 1 of Google search for “Dinosaur State Park Connecticut”.

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