Prehistory comes alive in Rabbit Valley

Stroll through ancient history or go on a dig for dinosaur bones in Rabbit Valley.

Rabbit Valley is the perfect trip for budding paleontologists or anyone interested in learning about prehistoric creatures. The high desert area northwest of Grand Junction is home to the Mygatt-Moore Quarry where more than 4,000 dinosaur bones have been found since the 1980s. Species regularly found here include the Camarasaurus, Allosaurus and Camptosaurus. The quarry is also the discovery site of the Mymoorapelta, a small, armored, plant-eating dinosaur from the Jurassic Period.

There are several ways to enjoy the area, which still captures the feeling of prehistory with its wide-open views and rugged rocks. Self-guided hikes along the Trail Through Time let you explore the area at your own pace. The 1.5-mile loop starts at the Rabbit Valley Natural Research Area, about 30 miles west of Grand Junction and 18 miles west of Fruita along I-70. The trail takes you along ancient streambeds that contain dinosaur specimens roughly 140 million years old.

For a hands-on experience, try a dinosaur dig offered by the Museum of Western Colorado. These trips take the public into the field to work with paleontologists collecting fossils on half-day, one-day and three-day digs in the quarry. All digs include transportation from the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita to the quarry and a tour of the Dinosaur Journey Paleo Lab. The three-day trip also includes a rafting adventure on the Colorado River.

The Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita is the starting point for the dinosaur digs as well as the destination for the dinosaur bones. At the museum, the recovered fossils are cleaned and prepared for study — drop by the museum to watch the process unfold. 

Getting here:

Dinosaur Digs leave from the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita. Take I-70 west from Grand Junction to CO-340 south — the museum is about a half-mile down the road on the right.

To get to Rabbit Valley and the Trail Through Time, take I-70 west from Grand Junction to exit 2 for Rabbit Valley Road. Head north and drive straight into the park.