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Glen Canyon and Rainbow Bridge contain a rich abundance of geologic formations. Learn about the significance of fossils found within these formations.

Open jaw of Pliosaur Skull. Lots of teeth.
The skull of a plesiosaur (extinct marine reptile) discovered at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

The rocks of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area preserve a complex story of life on Earth dating back over 300 million years. Hidden within these sandstone layers are the remains of extinct amphibians that sported giant sail-like protrusions on their backs, the footprints of dinosaurs straight out of Jurassic Park, and dung from Ice Age megafauna like mammoths and giant ground sloths. Information hidden within the barren rocks found here today hint to massive changes to a land that was at one time a shallow sea, an expansive sand dune, even expansive swamp lands. The stories hidden within these rocks are diverse, complicated, and extremely valuable to scientists. They provide us with valuable information that helps us to not only reconstruct the ancient environments and animal communities of northern Arizona and southern Utah, but to connect Glen Canyons story with the countless others preserved all over the world.

  • Sandstone slab with three-toed fossil track
    Mesozoic Fossils

    Read a summary of Mesozoic Era fossils: made up of Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous Period (all the good ones) in Glen Canyon.

  • illustration of dinosaur on two legs walking along a desert dune with a few of its kind ahead. Near
    Glen Canyon's National Fossil Day

    Read about the real fossils in Glen Canyon that inspired the 2024 National Fossil Day artwork.

  • curving light colored sandstone canyon under clear skies

    Swoopy rocks and hidden fossils

  • Two three-toed dinosaurs, one with its head low, walking to your right across desert sand
    NPS Fossils

    Fossils are found in the rocks, museum collections, and cultural contexts of more than 280 National Park Service areas.

  • park ranger with scientific measuring tools at an ancient stone masonry structre
    It's Up To You And Me

    Glen Canyon National Recreation Area preserves a record of more than 10,000 years of human presence.


More Fossils in Glen Canyon

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    Last updated: June 17, 2024

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    Mailing Address:

    PO Box 1507
    Page, AZ 86040


    928 608-6200
    Receptionist available at Glen Canyon Headquarters from 7 am to 4 pm MST, Monday through Friday. The phone is not monitored when the building is closed. If you are having an emergency, call 911 or hail National Park Service on Marine Band 16.

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