GLEN ROSE, Texas — Dinosaurs are fascinating creatures, especially so for children.
It is exciting to imagine gigantic prehistoric creatures roaming around this part of Texas - leaving their marks in the fossil record.
Here at Dinosaur Valley State Park, you can get a close look at the tracks they’ve left for us, and let your imagination run wild!
“What child doesn't have a love of dinosaurs at one point in their life or another?” said Asa Vermeulen, assistant superintendent of Dinosaur Valley State Park.
His love for dinosaurs started early and never left him.
“I did visit the park many times with my father and I have pictures of me in the tracks as a little boy, about eight years old," Vermeulen said.
"But at the time, I didn't know that going to school to be a park ranger was a thing,
"And so, boy, was I excited to find that out.”
A brief trek across the Paluxy River brings you to the main track site. There you’ll see the prints from two different dinosaurs.
“We have acocamsaurus, which is the one that's really easy to pick out," Vermeulen said.
"He's the three-toed carnivore everyone thinks of tyrannosaurus rex,
"But the great, great great grandfather of the t-rex, same body type, two legs, big teeth, very strong, powerful carnivore."
"Then we have saw poseidon, fratellis,
"And so those are the more rounded saucer-shaped tracks that look kind of like a hybrid between an elephant and a duck almost," Vermeulen said.
"But you can when the tracks are real cleaned out and dry, you can see each individual towpath on the front of their foot,
"And he was a long-necked herbivore similar to brontosaurus or an apatosaurus.”
These tracks are underwater, which helps to preserve them, but they are not considered permanent and can disappear.
“So, we actually try and we do our best to keep them clean and clear for everybody," Vermeulen said.
"But when we are always keeping an eye on the weather in the winter, we keep water on top of them so that they may not freeze and fracture little pieces off as well,"
"In the summer, there's not a whole lot we can do because there's no water to be found," Vermeulen said.
He says one track site from several years ago is gone now.
“They are very fragile,
"When floods come through you know, rivers are a powerful thing that are very hard to hold back,
"So, when we get certain floods, the water rages right through where we're standing and plows into the track site," said Vermeulen.
"We only clean them off if we know that floods aren't coming because we don't want to do extra damage to them every time we clean them you know, where microscopic little pieces may or may come off.”
No doubt, the dinosaur tracks are the main attraction, but the 500-acre park offers 21 miles of hiking trails, mountain biking and horseback riding, swimming and camping.
“We always recommend making reservations, especially for camping, because we only have about 60 spots in the park,
"So, reserveamerica.com and then search for Texas state parks, Dinosaur Valley State Park.”
Some 270 thousand visitors a year come to the park - guests like Susan and her husband, who left their home in snowy Colorado to criss-cross Texas visiting parks, and they both give this park rave reviews.
“Oh, my gosh!
"One, it's a beautiful park and I wish, really, I had more time,
The limestone. The water that's so clear. The dinosaur tracks. And the campground, if you're a camper, is amazing. The sites are huge and it's very well maintained and the nicest bathrooms of any state park I've ever been in."
“The restrooms are definitely a big big plus," Vermeulen said.
“Oh, the most fun thing I do is I get to live and work in a place like this,
"I get to come out every day and see the excitement on everybody's faces and try and get them involved in these places.”
So head out to Somerville County - a quick hour and a half drive outside of Waco to Dinosaur Valley State Park - and let your imagination run wild in Glen Rose.