• Camarasus skull in the cliff face, rafters on the Green River, McKee Springs petroglyphs


    National Monument CO,UT

Fossil Discovery Trail

Dinosaur leg bone on Fossil Discovery Trail
A fossilized leg bone of a sauropod dinosaur (on right side of image) exposed along the Fossil Discovery Trail.
1.2 miles, one-way, from either the visitor center or the Quarry Exhibit Hall
Level of Difficulty
Moderate, some steep, uneven sections and rocky areas. Trail is extremely slippery when it is wet
Trailhead Location
You can access the Fossil Discovery Trail from either the Quarry Visitor Center or the Quarry Exhibit Hall. (Please note: The road to the Quarry Exhibit Hall is gated at 5:00 pm each evening.)
Your Safety
Be prepared for desert hiking: Take a hat, sunscreen, and water
Let someone know where you are going and when you are due back.
Wear comfortable shoes, such as hiking boots or athletic shoes. Open-toed shoes are not recommended
There is no shade on this trail
Trail can be extremely slippery when wet
Rules and Regulations
Pets are not allowed on this trail or in the monument's backcountry
Carry out all trash
Collecting artifacts, fossils, plants, or other objects is prohibited
Do not feed or approach wildlife
Trail Brochures
A trail brochure is available that provides a general overview of three of the significant rock layers along the trail. During the summer, rangers provided daily guided walks on the trail. See our ranger program schedule for more details. More indepth brochures are also available online for those interested in fossils or geology. Fossil enthusiasts brochure with more in depth descriptions of fossils found in rock layers available here. Geology enthusiasts brochure with more in depth descriptions of the geology of each rock formation available here. (Note: Only the general brochure is available at the Quarry Visitor Center. The Fossil and Geology enthusiast brochures are only available online).
The trail cuts through several tilted rock layers which expose a variety of rocks and three fossil areas. The Morrison Formation stop features an outcropping of several small fossil fragments and a few large pieces of dinosaur bones in their natural state, just as Earl Douglass found them in 1909. The National Geographic Trails Illustrated map of Dinosaur National Monument is available from the park bookstore.
Along the trail in the Morrison Formation, numerous small dinosaur fossil bones and bone fragments can be discovered eroding from the cliff face.
Along the trail in the Morrison Formation, numerous small dinosaur fossil bones and bone fragments can be discovered eroding out of the rock.
Hikers on the Fossil Discovery Trail
A group hikes through the exposed rock layers on the Fossil Discovery Trail

Did You Know?

Photo of paleontologist Earl Douglass.

Paleontologist Earl Douglass first came to Utah looking for mammal fossils. He returned in 1909 and discovered an immense deposit of dinosaur bones, now protected at Dinosaur National Monument. Although made famous by dinosaurs, Douglass died preferring his beloved mammal fossils over dinosaurs.