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.
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School Groups All Ages and Grades
|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|
|Also available at the 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.
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.