Thing to Do

Hike the Fossil Discovery Trail

A person in a red shirt walks on a narrow trail through large colorful rock layers
Hiking on the Fossil Discovery Trail allows visitors a chance to see unexcavated fossils.


Distance: 1.2 miles, one way
Elevation Change: Approximately 200 feet
Level of Difficulty: Moderate, some steep uneven and rocky areas. Can be slippery when wet.
Type of Trail: one way, not a loop
Trailheads: either the Quarry Visitor Center or the Quarry Exhibit Hall.

This 1.2 miles, one-way 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. Trailheads are located at either the Quarry Visitor Center or the Quarry Exhibit Hall. When the shuttle is running between the viisitor center and the Quarry Exhibit Hall, many visitors opt to hike the trail one direction and ride the shuttle the opposite.

A pamphlet for the trail is available at the visitor center. Trail maps of Dinosaur National Monument are available from the park bookstore.

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
  • To protect fragile resources, off trail hiking is not permitted in this area.

Your Safety

  • Be prepared for desert hiking: Take a hat, sunscreen, and water
  • There is no shade on this trail
  • Wear comfortable shoes, such as hiking boots or athletic shoes. Open-toed shoes are not recommended
  • Trail can be extremely slippery when wet
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
Accessibility Information
Trail is a narrow path over a mix of gravel, dirt, and sand. There are numerous steps and dry stream crossings in several areas. There is no shade on the trail and it can be hot during midday. Trail is not wheelchair accessible.

Last updated: March 3, 2021