I love doing touristy things in my own hometown and since I had my parents visiting from out of state I thought going to Dinosaur Ridge was a great idea. Dinosaur ridge is very close to me and I am so glad because I plan on going a lot. The ridge is right at the foothills. It's a very pretty spot once you get up the hill.
If you like history, dinosaurs, geology or hiking you won't be disappointed in Dinosaur Ridge. We parked out front by the dinosaur statues. Right next to the parking lot is a huge field that seemed to be filled with gophers. Having never really seen live gophers before I thought they were cute but I guess they are quite a nuisance.
Inside the gift shop they have some interesting items. Lots of crystals, fossils and minerals. I thought it was a really nice gift shop with a great assortment of items. They have a sort of gold panning area out front and you can buy a bag of sand with all sorts of minerals or fossils and go pan it. Evan did this and had a lot of fun. I was actually surprised how many things were in his small sized bag.
We all took the tour that goes up the mountain. Our guide was great. Really informative and interesting. All the way up the mountain there are things to learn and see. We would stop and she would explain the different rock formations or show us fossils or foot prints. There are over 300 dinosaur footprints in the sandstone! In one spot there were a ton of fossils that you could touch. Going on the bus tour is definitely worth it at least once. I think it's only $4 for adults. But you can also hike up for free which I plan on doing next time. It is so pretty when you get near the top. You can see the red rocks!
When we got back we went to the exhibit hall. It's sort of a mini museum. The guy inside was pretty nice and was great with kids. There was lots of information and fossils inside. Outside the exhibit hall they have a little sand pit that kids can dig in and look for fossils. Of course Evan loved this and found a gastropod. Not sure if it's real or not but he got to keep it.
I really liked going to Dinosaur Ridge. It is a pretty cheap spot to take visitors or to go as a family. If your in the Denver area it's not far at all and there's a ton of other things to do in the area.