Notice

The park and grounds, including the nature trails, are opened 7-days a week. There is no fee to utilize the park grounds or nature trails.

The Exhibit Center is opened Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays. There is a small fee to visit the Exhibit Center. 

The Exhibit Center is open on all holidays with the exception of holidays that fall on Mondays and Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day, and New Years Day.

 

 

Dinosaur State Park

Rocky Hill, CT

A 200-million-year-old fossil trackway, nature trails, arboretum, and interactive exhibits bring the Mesozoic era to life. Explore a paleontological museum and enjoy the outdoors...all in one trip in a park like no other. The Park features over 750 early Jurassic dinosaur footprints — one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America — preserved in place inside the museum, alongside exhibits about dinosaurs, fossils, and Connecticut geology.

History
The Park is located in the Central Valley which is was created during the breakup of the super content Pangea around 220-170 million years ago. During the breakup several "rifts" or cracks were formed. The Central Valley is one of them and if it did not fail to continue to open, it may well have been the start of the future Atlantic Ocean. The Connecticut River flows through the Central Valley and portions of the Central Valley are referred to as the Connecticut River Valley. The Central Valley contains outstanding specimens of preserved footprints uncovered in 19th century brownstone quarries and have found their way into museums throughout the world. In 1966, a new chapter was added to that storied history with the discovery of more than 2,600 individual dinosaur footprints, most classified as Eubrontes Giganteus. The term Eubrontes Giganteus refers to the classification of the tracks themselves. Scientists are still not completely sure which dinosaur made these tracks. Possibly a dinosaur that resembles Dilophosaurus

Views from the Park
Location

400 West St.
Rocky Hill, CT 06067

Details

Open Tuesday – Sunday
(9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)

Contact

Main (860) 529-5816

Email deep.dinosaur@ct.gov

Mom and son exploring footprints at Dinosaur State Park
Activities

Museums

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Exhibit Center

Head to the geodesic dome for a bird’s-eye view of over 750 preserved dinosaur tracks that date back 200 million years to the early Jurassic period. This portion of the preserved Mesozoic floodplain includes just a fraction of the over 2,000 dinosaur tracks discovered in the 1960s—the other rest of the tracks were reburied for natural preservation. Along with the tracks, check out a model of a Dilophosaurus—a 18-20 foot predator and a possible source of the tracks, dioramas of Triassic and Jurassic environments, fossil collections, and hands-on interactive exhibits.

Daily Weekend Movie and Activity Schedule

DSP Summer Schedule 2024

Please note that the activity schedule is weather and staff dependent, and may change throughout the year. 

Animal Demos:
Come face to face with real live reptiles and amphibians!  These encounters are appropriate for guests of all ages.  Get an up close look at these amazing animals, and use your observational skills to figure out how they survive in the wild.  Length: 15 - 20 minutes.  

Track Discussions:
This is your opportunity to learn everything you wanted to know about our incredible dinosaur tracks!  Join one of our knowledgeable staff as they point out many of the unique and fascinating aspects of the trackway, and be a part of the science as we use evidence to reconstruct what things would have been like in Connecticut, 200 million years ago.  Make sure to bring plenty of questions!  Length: 15 - 30 minutes.

Science Experiences:
Join one of our staff as they share their knowledge of various topics, which may include fossils, rocks, minerals, or other aspects of the natural world.  Length: 15 - 20 minutes.  
 

 

Field Trips

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Exhibit Center Field Trips 

Available September – June, the park offers guided programs throughout the school year for grades 1 and up. Your visit will begin with a presentation, followed by a guided tour of the trackway, and an activity with the following themes:

  • Grades Prek-1 Fossil Discovery - How do we know dinosaurs existed? Join us as we travel to the past to discover all of the different clues left behind by the dinosaurs and what each can tell us about their lives. Together, we will investigate fossil bones, teeth, and other surprising clues that helped these creatures survive! 
  • Grades 2-5 Fun with Fossils - How do we know that ancient life, including Dinosaurs, existed? Travel back in the time to learn what Connecticut was like at the time of the dinosaurs and what we can learn about dinosaurs from their footprints and fossils. Students will examine a wide variety of fossils and dinosaur models to learn what made dinosaurs unique.
  • Grades 3-5 Rocks and Minerals Around Us - The rocks and minerals around us tell a story of dramatic changes in Connecticut over hundreds of millions of years. We 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.
  • Grades 6-8 Layers Through Time - Piece together the existence, extinction, and changes in life forms over 400 million years, from trilobites to mammoths, by digging through layers of “rock” to discover animals that lived in the American West. Use the fossil record to investigate environmental changes over time, gaining an understanding of the history of the area from the Devonian period to today.  
  • Grades 9-12 and College The Speed of Dinosaurs - While dinosaur bones can tell us what dinosaurs looked like, and how they died, dinosaur tracks can tell us what they did while they were alive! In this activity, we will get down onto the trackway (no shoes allowed, just socks!) and take dino measurements. Then, using these measurements, calculate the estimated speed of the individual dinosaurs as they walked across our trackway.  
     

Ready to sign up?    
Please complete the Exhibit Center Program Reservation Form  

Fees:     
Student Ages 5-under: $1    
Student Ages 6-12: $3    
Student Ages 13+: $7    
Adults: $6    
$50 minimum fee for 1.5-hour guided program 

Virtual Field Trips

Online only, using video conferencing software     
Dinosaur State Park is offering live virtual programming using video conferencing software. Led by park staff, each 30 to 45-minute program uses a dynamic and interactive format, giving students and educators an opportunity to make observations and ask questions. The unique format gives us the ability to show different aspects of the park within seconds, enabling more depth than typically possible in person. The following topics are available:

  • Connecticut’s Geologic History    
    Be a geologist! Learn about the geologic history of Connecticut. Discover how Connecticut’s rocks allowed dinosaur tracks from the early Jurassic to be preserved until the modern day. Learn about Connecticut's minerals and explore how they can indicate the different geologic events that happened in Connecticut through time.
  • Dinosaurs of Connecticut    
    Meet the incredible creatures that roamed Connecticut during the Age of Dinosaurs!  Looking at real fossils from the State of Connecticut, students will learn about the amazing variety of dinosaurs and other animals that once called the area home some 200 million years ago. 
  • Fossil Discovery (PreK-1st Grade)    
    How do we know dinosaurs existed? Join us as we travel to the past to discover all of the different clues left behind by the dinosaurs and what each can tell us about their lives. Together, we will investigate fossil bones, teeth, and other surprising clues that helped these creatures survive!  

Ready to sign up?     
Please complete the Virtual Program Reservation Form   

2024 Summer Field Trips;

Dinosaur State Park is a great destination as a summer field trip for summer school, youth groups, and summer camp groups. Summer groups can explore the exhibit center, watch a movie, go for a walk on the trails, meet a few live animals during the animal demonstration, learn more about fossils and ancient life during our live programs, and "mine' for gems and fossils in our mining sluice. Please note that most summer programming is first come, first served. Each activity is prescheduled and is available to the general public as well. We do not have the ability to schedule activities or programs specifically for summer camp groups. However we do require registration to schedule the mining for gems and fossils and to spread out large groups so that we can accommodate as many groups as possible. To start the reservation process, please complete the form below. Please email questions using the link at the bottom of this page.

Ready to sign up?     
Please complete the Summer Group Reservation Form

For questions, please contact Michael Ross at deep.dinosaur@ct.gov.

Visitor Center

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Gem and Fossil Mining

Available May 1 - October 31, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (except during rainy weather)

“Mine" for gems and fossils in the park’s outdoor mining sluice. To participate, purchase bags of mineral and gem or fossil mining rough from the bookstore (prices range from $7 to $25 a bag, or $75 for a bucket). We recommend one bag for up to three or four people. "Mining" each bag takes about 10 minutes and park staff and volunteer will be on hand to help you identify your new treasures. Mining bags are purchased at the Friends of Dinosaur Park & Arboretum's museum shop located inside the exhibit center. 

Track Casting

three children showing their plastic dinosaur track

Available May 1 - October 31, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Cast your own dinosaur footprint using real dinosaur prints — a one-of-a-kind experience and souvenir! The activity is free, but you’ll need to bring your own materials.

Materials – For each cast, you will need:

  • 10 pounds of Plaster-of-Paris (no substitutions)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • Five-gallon plastic bucket
  • Cloth rags and paper towels
  • (The park provides Eubrontes tracks, metal rings, and 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.

Know Before You Go only one cast per family or group so all visitors have a chance to participate. We do not recommend casting during inclement weather.

Hiking

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The park’s more than two miles of nature and hiking trails wind through a rich diversity of habitats, including swamps, dense forest, meadows, and a traprock ridge composed of basalt rock, formerly hot lava.

Red Trail Loop  

  • 0.75-mile loop trail and boardwalk 
  • Level of difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Starting from the amphitheater area, this trail connects the Red and Blue Trails. The circuit, a combination of packed dirt paths and boardwalk, winds through red maple and shrub swamps, native plants, a butterfly garden, and vernal pool.

Enrich your outdoor experience. Find interesting geologic features with EarthCache. 
Note: No pets or bikes on the nature trails.

Know Before You Go

Nature

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Arboretum

The arboretum contains more than 250 species of Mesozoic Era plants, trees, and shrubs. The collection of plant families were curated to recreate an environment that closely reflects the one the dinosaurs roamed many centuries ago.  
Arboretum Map

  • Fir Collection - Douglas, Nikko, Nordmann, and Concolor firs
  • Arborvitae Wall - Conifers, including Hiba Arborvitae (Thujopsis dolabrata ‘Variagata”)
  • Cedar Collection - Lebanon, Deodar, and Blue Atlas Cedars and the California incense cedar
  • Pine Grove- “White Mountain”, Blue Jay, Himalayan, Bosnian, ‘Pendula’ and ‘Waterii’ Scots pine 
  • East Side Conifers- Japanese cedar, ‘Oregon Blue” Lawson cypress, weeping Alaskan cedar, Hinoki false cypress, and “Chinese fir”
  • Rock Garden - Junipers, false cypresses, small arborvitae, dwarf firs, and flowering plants such as lavender and thyme, amongst exposed rock ledges
  • Plaza del Sol - Japanese umbrella pines
  • Southeast Collection - Bald cypress, American sycamores, black gum, willow oak, pawpaws, sweetbay magnolia, Carolina allspice, Persimmon, Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), “Hazel Smith” cultivar, Dawn Redwoods, and golden larch
  • Spruce Collection - Hondo spruce, Oriental spruce, Serbian spruce, and Black Hills spruce
  • East Asian Garden - Chinese swamp cypress, weeping katsura tree, “kew” ginkgo, and yellow-groove bamboo
  • London Plane Trees - Hybrid American and Eurasian sycamores

Picnicking

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Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in the Arboretum area of the park, where picnic tables and grills are available to use during park hours. Planning a private party or gathering? Reserve a private spot in our picnic shelter.

Open Air Picnic Shelter Rentals

Reserve a picnic shelter: 

Interactive

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Exhibit Center Tour

Take a virtual field trip of some of the amazing exhibits at Dinosaur State Park — from wherever! Move around and zoom in to a favorite exhibit, look for something new, and immerse yourself in the experience of walking in the footsteps of dinosaurs on the 200-million-year-old trackway — an adventure not typically open to the public.

Take Tour

Otozoum Activity Series 

Investigate one of our favorite artifacts, the Otozoum rock slab. This rock slab was discovered in Portland, CT during the late 1800's and has been on display to the public for over 124 years at various museums in Connecticut. New features were discovered just a few years ago…by accident after more than 100 years of research! Can you solve the mystery to help scientists figure out what these mysterious features may be? 

Don your virtual science lab coat and find your science notebook to get ready to explore the same features that researchers are currently investigating through an interactive, high-resolution, 3D computer model of the slab.

Geoscience Activity Series

Through interactive online games and activities, learn how the surface of the Earth has changed through time, and how plate tectonics form, destroy, and shape our world. With the Tectonic Plate simulator, try your skill at making mountains, volcanic islands, lava flows, and other awesome plate boundary features!

Fossil Discoveries with Kira (Park Naturalist) 

  • Cambrian Period – Join Kira as she looks at a few fossils from the Cambrian Period and discusses one of the top predators of the time…you may be surprised by what it is! Watch 
  • Devonian Oceans – Learn about earth's ancient oceans during the Devonian period with Kira as she shares two amazing fossil from the vault! Watch
  • Carboniferous Period – Kira brings out two fossils from the Carboniferous period — similar to two modern relatives found at the park! Watch
  • Early Jurassic – Join Kira as she discusses the fossil that made Dinosaur State Park famous, including which dinosaur likely made the track and what the earth was like when it did. Part 1  |  Part 2
  • Uncovering the Past – Get all the details on the discovery of the dinosaur trackway at the park through archival footage, present-day interviews, and more. Watch

Virtual Tours  

Fees

Parking
Free

Park Grounds & Trails
Free

Exhibit Center Admission
Free – 5 and under
$2 – Ages 6-12
$6 – Ages 13+

Accessibility

Exhibit Center

Parking

Picnic Tables

Restrooms

Pets

Nature Trails & Exhibit Center
Not permitted

Park Grounds
Yes, on leash