If your kids have an interest in dinosaurs and natural history, then they would absolutely love taking a visit to Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill. Our Connecticut adoption professionals share a love for paleontology with our kids, so we like to take family visits here to learn about ancient natural history and enjoy taking in the sights of the current landscape. Some of our favorite aspects of Dinosaur State Park include:
The Jurassic Mural and Exhibit
Dinosaur State Park has been open since 1968 – two years after 2,000 dinosaur tracts were accidentally discovered there during excavation for the construction of a new state building. At the Jurassic mural and exhibit, you can get some background information on the Jurassic period and the 500 tracks on display in the Exhibit Center’s geodesic dome before you walk through the park. This section includes a mural and diorama featuring models of creatures from the period, including a Dilophosaurus, which was an 18 to 20-foot-long predator considered to be the likely source of the dinosaur tracks in the park.
The Discovery Room
The Discovery Room was renovated in 2014, with a variety of new and exciting additions. Some of our favorite features of this section of the Exhibit Center include:
- Hands-on activities
- Displays of Connecticut rocks and minerals
- Large-screen interactive program about the Connecticut River Valley and the creatures that lived there during the late Triassic period (about 200 million years ago)
- Exhibits featuring hundreds of specimens
- “Connecticut’s Geologic Treasures” exhibit, featuring an interactive geologic map and pull and learn drawers with dozens of Connecticut specimens
- Investigation Station where both kids and adults can examine mica, crystal structures, and more
A 55,000-square-foot geodesic dome encloses approximately 500 tracks, with another 1,500 staying buried for preservation. These tracks are believed to be from the early Jurassic period and were left over 200 million years ago on what likely used to be a sandy shore of a lake. The geodesic home houses much more than the tracks, including notable features like:
- Life-sized dioramas of plants and creatures from the Triassic and Jurassic periods
- Interactive displays
- A reconstruction of a geologic foundation
- An exhibit about the unearthing of the dino tracks in 1966
In the outdoor area surrounding the Exhibit Center, you can find a gorgeous Arboretum. This arboretum showcases plants with links to similar ones that existed during the time that dinosaurs walked the planet. More than 200 varieties of trees and other vascular plants can be found here, including conifers, cycadophytes, ginkgoes, ferns, and large arborescent horsetails.
Dinosaur State Park Day
Each August, the park celebrates the anniversary of the discovery of the tracks. This year’s event will mark the 52nd anniversary. This annual special event offers a diverse selection of activities that the family can enjoy together, including various games, crafts, and educational programs – along with the opportunity to win some cool prizes. Other fun features include live animal shows and visits from Dilly and Smokey Bear.