Dinosaur State Park

Welcome to Dinosaur State Park

The Connecticut Valley has a long history of fossil track discoveries. Outstanding specimens uncovered in 19th century brownstone quarries found their way into museums throughout the world. A new chapter in the history of such discoveries was written in 1966 when hundreds of tracks were exposed in Rocky Hill. This remarkable site became Dinosaur State Park.

Outdoor activities include walking trails that lead past 25 life-size concrete and steel dinosaurs. See the creatures that roamed the state up to 230 years ago on the Connecticut Trail; try out Monty’s Splashpad, a state of the art interactive water play. Inside, kids can continue their discoveries in the Bone Zone, where they can dig for faux fossils, dig for crystals, pan for gold and do not leave without shopping in the 10,000 square foot retail area.

Dinosaur State Park

400 West Street

Rocky Hill, CT 06067

P. (860) 529-5816

W. Dinosaur State Park

Hours of Operation

The Exhibit Center and park office are open year round except Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day from 9 am  to 4:30 pm.

The park grounds are open at 9:00 am and close at 4:30 pm daily. The nature trails are closed at 4:00 pm.

Admission and Fees

There is a daily admission fee at Dinosaur State Park.

Adults ages 13 and up are $6

Youth ages 6 – 12 are $2

Children under 6 are free.

The park accepts Visa, Master Card, and Discover Card for admission costs over $10. Admission costs less than $10 must be paid with cash or a check. Debit cards or American Express cards are not accepted.

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Parents and Families

Parents and Family Programs 

Footprint Casting At Dinosaur State Park
The casting area contains real dinosaur footprints.  It is open daily from May 1 to October 31 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  There is no fee to use this area but park guests must bring their own materials.  For each cast you will need:
  • 10 pounds of Plaster-of-Paris (no substitutions)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • Five gallon bucket
  • Cloth rags and paper towels
The park provides:
  • Eubrontes tracks
  • Metal rings
  • Water
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.
NOTE:
We ask that you make only one cast per family or group.
We do not recommend casting during inclement weather.

Mining For Gems and Fossils

An outdoor mining sluice is available for “mining” gems and fossils. Purchase bags of mining rough from the bookshop (additional fee applies; $5.50 – $9.00 plus tax per bag). The mining sluice can accommodate approximately 6 individuals at one time, and “mining” each bag takes about 10 minutes. Bags may be shared by up to 3-4 people.

The sluice is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm, May 1 through October 31, except during rainy weather.

Additional Programs

The trails are open daily for walking. Check additional information.

Meet the park’s animals: Programs with our live animals will be conducted only on weekends.

Track Talks: A staff member will answer questions about the tracks and discuss what Connecticut was like in the early Jurassic period. Call the park for the schedule.

Activities

Fossil Boxes

Coloring, Puzzles, and Books

Make a Dinosaur Tracks Bookmark

Outdoor Bingo scavenger hunt

Letter boxing and Earth cache activities

School Groups All Grades

School & Summer Camp Groups All Ages and Grades

Visit Dinosaur State Park where your students can explore a museum and enjoy the outdoors in one field trip, while meeting Connecticut Core Science Standards. The Park features over 500 Early Jurassic dinosaur footprints preserved in place inside the museum, alongside interactive exhibits about dinosaurs, evolution, and Connecticut geology. The Park has guided programs throughout the school year for grades 1 and up. Your visit will begin with a slide presentation, followed by a guided tour of the trackway and a participatory activity with the following themes:

Grades 1-5 Fun with Fossils – Travel back in time to learn what Connecticut was like at the time of the dinosaurs, and what we can learn about dinosaurs from their footprints and other fossils. Students will examine a variety of fossils and dinosaur models to learn about what made dinosaurs unique. Core Science Standards 1.2, 3.2, 4.2, 4.3

Grades 3-5 Rocks & Minerals Around Us – The rocks and minerals around us tell a story of dramatic changes in Connecticut over hundreds of millions of years. We also use many of these materials in our lives today. Students will examine samples of rocks and minerals from around Connecticut, explore their distinctive properties, and discuss ways we use these materials. Core Science Standards 3.1, 3.3, 4.3

Grades 6-8 Connecticut Landforms  – The Connecticut landscape around us today was shaped over hundreds of millions of years by colliding continents, erupting lava, flowing water, and massive ice sheets. Students will learn how these forces interacted by examining the shape of the land surface and samples of bedrock from key locations around the state. Core Science Standard 7.3

Grades 9-12 Evolution – Find out how the dinosaur footprints in Connecticut relate to the larger story of evolution through time, beginning with Earth’s earliest lifeforms and leading to the rise of the mammals in the Cenozoic. Choose from a timeline activity examining key evolutionary events, or a fossil-dating activity. Core Science Standard 10.5

Grades 9-12 Earth Systems – The dinosaur footprints and rocks found in Connecticut provide evidence for the cycling of matter and energy through the Earth system. Students will examine rock samples from Connecticut and piece together the exciting story of moving plates and changing environments that made Connecticut what it is today. Core Science Standards 9.1, 9.4, 9.5, 9.7, and 9.8

Programs are provided by appointment only for school groups in grades 1 and older.  The cost is $3 per student for ages 6-12 and $7 for ages 13 and up. The minimum cost for a guided program is $50. Minimum group size is 10, maximum 60 students. Guided programs are approximately 1½ hours in length.
Also available at the Park:
  •  Outdoor Casting Area – Make a plaster cast of a dinosaur footprint (seasonal -bring own material).
  •  Mine for Gems and Fossils in our outdoor mining sluice (seasonal – additional fee applies).
  • Outdoor Picnic area 
  • 2 1/2 miles of hiking trails
  • Bookstore – contact us for information about pre-purchased “Treasure Bags” for your group.

School Group Program Fees

Fees for the programs are $3 per student ages 6 to 12, and $7 per student ages 13 and up. The minimum group fee for a guided program is $50. Programs are limited to a maximum of 60 students for grades 1 through 5, and a maximum of 90 students for grades 6 through 12. Guided programs are approximately 1½ hours in length.

For additional information, or to schedule a field trip, contact Maryanne Marchinski in the Park Office at (860) 529-5816.

Other Site Attractions:

The Arboretum of Evolution

When dinosaurs first became numerous in the late Triassic Period, nearly all of the major groups of vascular plants except the angiosperms were in existence. Conifers, cycadophytes, ginkgoes, ferns, and large arborescent horsetails dominated the landscape. By the mid-Jurassic Period, conifers had become more diverse and many of their fossils have been assigned to modern families such as Araucariaceae, Pinaceae and Taxodiaceae.

The Trackway at Dinosaur State Park

On August 23, 1966, fossil tracks were uncovered during excavation for a state building. When Edward McCarthy turned over a slab of gray sandstone with his bulldozer, he saw a large footprint with three toes. The news of the discover spread quickly as more tracks were uncovered. Within a few weeks, officials decided to preserve the site as a state park. As a result of careful excavation, the park has one of the largest on-site displays of dinosaur tracks in the entire world.

Scout Programs

Scout Troop Programs

Complete your Geologist Activity Pin at Dinosaur State Park!

Webelos Workshops are scheduled on specific Saturdays.

Contact the Park Office for future dates.

Check In: 8:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. Program: 9:15 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The Webelos Workshop provides an opportunity for scouts to complete the requirements of the Geologist Pin in a unique geologic setting. The program will begin with a short introduction by the park geologist, followed by activities at three stations located in the Dinosaur State Park exhibit center. These stations will explore fossils, how mountains are formed, and common uses of rocks and minerals. Scouts will also view a film about volcanoes and hear a “Track Talk” about the dinosaur tracks and rocks found in the park. The park geologist will be available to answer questions throughout the program. Groups are encouraged to allow additional time to explore the exhibit center and nature trails on their own. The program will be held rain or shine.

Time: Doors open for check-in at 8:30 a.m. The Program begins PROMPTLY at 9:15 a.m. and continues until 1 p.m. The schedule includes time for either an optional live animal demonstration or free time in the exhibit center or at bookshop.

Costs: $7 per scout includes regular admission to exhibit center, a Dinosaur State Park patch, and the cost of materials for scheduled activities. Adults and children accompanying the scouts will be charged the regular museum admission fee ($6 for ages 13+, $2 for ages 6-12, and free for 5 and under).

Registration: Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Programs fill quickly so mail your registration and payment as soon as possible. Space is limited to 60 scouts. Print out the registration form and the roster form to complete your registration. Go to Registration Form — Go to Scout Roster

Payment: Payment in full must be received at least 7 days in advance of the workshop. Please complete the form and return with payment to Dinosaur State Park, 400 West St. Rocky Hill, CT 06067. Checks should be made payable to Treasurer, State of Connecticut.

Changes and Cancellations: A refund will be issued for any changes or cancellations made at least 7 days prior to the workshop. No refunds will be issued for changes or cancellations after this date.

Lunch: A half-hour lunch period is included in the program. Please bring your own lunch, since no food is available for sale at the park. There is a large outdoor picnic area; no indoor facilities are available for lunch. Workshop will be held rain or shine. You may choose to have lunch on your own time after 1 p.m., and use the lunch period as free time instead.

Other Activities: The park includes a picnic area, more than 2 miles of hiking trails, a track-casting area (May- October), and a mining sluice (weather dependent; for an additional fee). You may wish to allow additional time to enjoy these activities.

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Author: Stuspots

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  • jamie

    i really like the fact that you dig for your own fossil, very unique place

  • james

    came here with my kids, they loved it !!