A few weeks ago my family took a road trip from Houston to Waco, then on to Glen Rose, Texas to visit the Dinosaur Valley State Park. My husband has wanted to take my kids to visit this park for years to see dinosaur tracks.
It’s best to visit this State Park during drier periods because the tracks lie in a riverbed. During wet seasons not many tracks are visible to park visitors. The lower the river level, the more tracks you can see!
I recommend calling the park before your visit. They have an automated recording that tells you if the tracks are visible or not. My husband also looked on Twitter for people who shared recent trips to see if it was a good time to visit before we went.
It is an approximately 2.5 hour drive from Houston to Waco. My kids do great on road trips so we made it straight there with no problems. We left mid-day and got there in the early afternoon and went straight to the Magnolia Silos.
If you’re doing this road trip on a weekend and want to visit the Silos, make sure you go on a Friday or Saturday because they’re closed Sunday. Also, the Silos close at 6pm, so get there earlier in the day! We got there in the late afternoon and had about 2 hours to stroll around before closing. That ended up being the perfect amount of time to wander the property and let the kids stretch their legs and play!
We spent the night at the Hilton Waco. It was a comfortable stay for my family. We set off right after breakfast for Glen Rose. Glen Rose is about an hour drive from Waco. My husband had made a reservation and purchased our park pass online prior to our visit.
We checked in at the front office to get maps and they also gave us information about their Junior Ranger program.
Did you know that Texas State Parks offer a Junior Ranger program? We first learned about it during our visit to the Mammoth Museum (located in Waco – which would be a great add on to this road trip too).
To earn the Junior Range badge, kids do a scavenger hunt to learn about what is found in the State Park. At the end of your visit, the kids turn in their work to Park Rangers, who then check their answers. After they review your work and explain any incorrect answers the Park Rangers swear the kids in as Junior Rangers and give them a badge.
The Dinosaur Valley State park has footprints of Sauroposeidon proteles (a sauropod) and Acrocanthosaurus (a theropod) and miles of hiking trails with views of the river valley.
After parking we went for a short hike, enjoying nature and the beautiful scenery. I will caution that you must cross the river by stepping from rock to rock and the trails can be steep and rugged. We saw a lady fall and badly hurt her ankle while we were there.
We spent most of our visit at the main track site where we were able to see both sauropod and theropod tracks. My daughters sat together inside a sauropod track.
It was truly an awe inspiring experience to walk next to dinosaur footprints.
Unfortunately, due to recent rains, we were only able to find tracks at the main track site. Under drier conditions there are several other sites where you can view dinosaur tracks. But we definitely still thought the trip was well worth the visit!
My kids learned so much more during their Junior Ranger scavenger hunt than they would have on their own (and I learned a lot too by helping them answer their questions). Once my kids completed their Junior Ranger scavenger hunt and we returned to the Park Rangers at the main office. A Ranger reviewed their answers and gave them their Junior Ranger badges.
Of course, before we left we stopped at the gift shop and got each kid a trinket before heading home.
There are two huge models of T-Rex and Brontosaurus outside the gift shop that are great for photo ops (but note that neither of these dinosaurs made the tracks that you can see in this park)!
The drive home from Glen Rose to Houston was about 3.5 hours. Have you ever visited Dinosaur Valley State Park? Is this a trip you would like to take with your family soon?