After the discovery of various kinds of preserved dinosaur tracks in this area of Texas, the Dinosaur Valley State Park opened in 1972 to help protect the precious finds. The park consists of 1,587 acres where you can see Theropod and Sauropod tracks. There is even a 70-foot model of the Apatosaurus and a 45-foot model of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The dinosaur tracks here are so astounding that the park has been designated as a National Natural Landmark. How exciting is it to know that you can walk the same land as the dinosaurs walked and see the footprints they left millions of years ago?
When you visit the park in the summer, you can expect the temperatures to reach daytime highs in the 90s and sometimes only barely dip down into the 60s at night. To combat the heat, bring your swimsuits and beach toys with you because the Paluxy River is a fun place to cool off. If swimming isn't for you, the Paluxy River is a perfect location to try your luck at catching some fish for dinner. During the winter, temperatures often get down below freezing, so if you bring your RV during the offseason, come prepared for cold nights. No matter what the weather holds, the main attraction to the park, the dinosaur tracks, will remain the same. Plus, you can enjoy all sorts of outdoor recreation, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, and picnicking. So, pack up that RV and head out to Dinosaur Valley State Park.
RV Rentals in Dinosaur Valley State Park
Transportation in Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park is located just four miles from Glen Rose, off of Highway 67. Only an hour from Fort Worth, 1.5 hours from Dallas, and 2.5 hours from Austin, this Texas park is far from the big-city lights, but still close enough to have a fun weekend getaway.
Driving to the park and navigating the roads inside of the park is easy, and you shouldn’t run into any difficulties, even if you’re driving an extra-long RV. Local roads will take you past all the major attractions, including the dinosaur models, and the campground and picnic areas. For convenience, though, it may be easier to set up your RV at the campsite first, then head out to other areas of the park in your car or on foot to prevent parking issues.
This park does have ample parking areas, and many of the parking lots are located near the campground, the dinosaur models, or past the Ozark Site. On weekends and holidays, parking can become limited. Once you find a parking spot, it's easy to walk along the trails to your desired destination. If you have a large RV and you aren't staying overnight, another option is to leave your rig at the nearest town, which is just five miles away, and take your towed vehicle with you. However, make sure you clear this with the parking lot owners before leaving it, or you may come back to find your motorhome missing.
Campgrounds and parking in Dinosaur Valley State Park
Campsites in Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park Campground
Dinosaur Valley State Park Campground has 44 spacious RV campsites. Each site comes with a fireplace, waist-high BBQ grill, picnic table, and lantern hook. The driveways range from 36 to 66 feet in length, so you should have no problem finding a spot big enough to accommodate your RV. All of these sites offer water and 30-amp electric hookups and have restrooms with running water and showers nearby. It is best to reserve your spot well in advance, especially if you are planning on camping on a weekend or holiday.
Some sites are paved with concrete, although others are gravel, so it might be more challenging to get your rig level. While most of the sites are shaded, they tend to be close together. You can head out onto several different nature trails right from the campground or take a dip in the Paluxy River, which is just a short walk from any campsite. You’ll have everything you need to have a good RV camping trip right here in the park. Dogs and cats are welcome, but you have to keep them restrained and supervise them at all times during your stay.
If you have a large family or group of people to camp with, you can choose from one of the group campgrounds. The larger campground has room for up to 40 people with plenty of room to spare for a game of volleyball or football. You’ll have three picnic tables, two lantern posts, fire rings, a BBQ grill, and a shaded area to protect you from the hot Texas sun. The other group campground has accommodations for up to 20 people with two picnic tables, a fire ring, and a lantern hanger.
You will have to walk about 150 feet from the parking area and leave the RV behind when using either of these sites. There is drinking water available at the parking area as well, and you are within walking distance of the playground and RV dump station. You can find modern restrooms with running water and hot showers approximately 400 yards away. Just like the other sites, pets are welcome as long as they are supervised and restrained at all times while you are here.
Dinosaur Valley State Park Campground
Any of the campsites not reserved are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you are lucky enough to snag a campsite without a reservation, you'll still have access to all of the amenities, such as a grill, fire ring, lantern hanger, and picnic table. These campsites can accommodate RVs up to 66 feet in length, so you should have no problem fitting your oversized-rig. Showers and restrooms are located nearby. Just like with a reserved spot, pets are welcome as long as you supervise them and keep them restrained during your stay. While walk-ins are fine, if someone happens to reserve your camping space, you may be asked to move to a different site.
If you’re looking for something a little wilder than staying in an RV, you can leave the RV behind and go primitive camping in the park. At all of the primitive campsites, there is no access to restrooms, showers, water, or picnic tables. However, you will have access to a fire ring, lantern post, and plenty of space to enjoy a game of frisbee or badminton at your site. All of these spots require that you hike up to a half-mile to reach them. The closest potable water spigot is about a half-mile from the campsites.
Other sites require one to two and a half miles of hiking to reach your camping destination. The farthest sites do not have fire rings or grills as they do not allow ground fires. Be aware that on the longer hikes, you may have to cross the river, too. It's a good idea to call ahead of time to make sure the river isn’t flooded. Primitive camping is not only a great way to get in shape with all of the hiking, but it’s also a great time to be alone and relax in the woods. After all, none of the primitive campsites are even within eyesight of each other. However, your furry friend can keep you company since these sites are pet-friendly.
Seasonal activities in Dinosaur Valley State Park
The river is the perfect place to get out of the RV and go for a dip when you’re feeling hot and worn out from the Texas heat. Just be sure to stay safe by reading the park’s swimming safety tips. It is recommended that children and those who are weak swimmers wear life jackets when in the water. Keep your eyes peeled during your swim; you might even get to find some of the dinosaur tracks that were left near the river.
Just as the Paluxy River is a great place to swim, it’s also a great place to go fishing. In Texas, you don’t need a fishing license to fish from the bank at any of the state parks. All you need is a fishing pole, some bait, and a nice shady spot to start casting your line. Some of the fish you can expect to find include channel catfish, striped and largemouth bass, bluegill, drum, and alligator gar.
Dinosaur Valley State Park has over 20 miles of multi-use trails, and many of these trails are perfect for mountain biking. Some of the trails can be bumpy, so be sure to pack your helmet as well as your other mountain biking gear. If you want to take a short and easy ride, try the 0.3-mile Oak Springs Trail or the 1.3-mile Buckeye Trail. For a challenge, check out the 2.7-mile Black-Capped Vireo Trail or the 7.5-mile Cedar Brake Outer Loop. These rugged multi-use trails can be a great way to get outside in the fresh air for some exercise.
Pack your family and friends into the RV and head for the park. With all of the beautiful nature that this park has to offer, it makes for the perfect spot to picnic with some friendly company. If you have a large group, you can reserve the covered picnic pavilion, which seats 25 people. You’ll be right on the riverbank and next to the playground and restrooms with running water. Don't have time to reserve the pavilion? There are plenty of other good spots to picnic in the park, too, and if you find one in the shade, the summer heat won’t seem so bad.
Bring your kayak to explore the Paluxy River, or rent one from the park store for a small fee. The river has some gentle rapids to attack, but these rapids are nothing like you'd experience whitewater rafting. However, you will need to wear a life jacket if you are a good swimmer or not. If you are renting, the park will provide you with paddles and life jackets. Remember that it is easier to go upstream first and then float back down.
Wildlife and Bird Watching
While you may not get to see real live dinosaurs anymore, there are lots of other animals that you might be able to spot in the park. Many people like to come here to bird watch, especially during the migratory season. Some of the more popular species that birders look for are the chuck-will’s Widow, white-winged dove, and many different varieties of sparrow and warbler. Other popular animals you can spot include deer, bobcats, elk, jackrabbits, coyotes, and armadillos.
The South Primitive Area of the Dinosaur Valley State Park holds 100 acres that are perfect for going on horseback adventures. Your horse will be welcome here, and if it gets thirsty, it will even be allowed to drink from the river. You may want to bring your own water bucket in your horse trailer to make things a bit easier, though. The 2.6-mile Horseshoe Equestrian Trail takes you on a nice long walk through the peaceful woods where it could be just you and your horse for miles.
Attending Ranger Programs
There are many different kinds of regularly scheduled ranger programs offered at Dinosaur Valley State Park. You'll have the opportunity to learn all about the park’s history, wildlife, dinosaur tracks, or even about the stars. You can also head out of the camper and go on guided tours or learn new skills such as archery and fishing. If your pooch is with you, you’re in luck because two of the activities, adorably named Fido’s Field Day and Hike with your Hound, involve your pooch.
Discovering Dinosaur Tracks
The dinosaur tracks that were left here back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth are the biggest attraction at the park. You can find real tracks all along the different trails, as well as near the river. You can even learn about the dinosaurs at the gift shop. The tracks are by far one of the coolest things you’ll get to see in the park. Be sure to ask a ranger for help to find the best spots for locating these ancient footprints, or, if you have a GPS, you can download KMZ files that will help you find and track the footprints yourself.
There are 20 miles of hiking trails at Dinosaur Valley State Park. Along these trails, you might be able to find many of the dinosaur tracks that were left here millions of years ago. The discovery of these artifacts can make for a fascinating adventure and one that you don’t want to miss out on. Ask a ranger to help you find the best spots to search for dinosaur tracks, and if you're looking for a more adventurous hike, you might want to explore the 7.5-mile Cedar Brake Outer Loop, which has steep terrain that goes around the entire edge of the park.