Why Utah is America's Real-Life Jurassic World

Exploring North America's greatest dinosaur graveyard

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••• Visit Utah

Thanks in part to the success of films such as "Jurassic World," interest in learning about dinosaurs is on the rise. And there's no place in North America with a richer dinosaur legacy than Utah.

In 2013, paleontologists discovered some new dinosaur species, including Siats meekerorum, a killer dinosaur that roamed in what is now Utah about 100 million years ago, before T-Rex. The beast walked on two legs, was more than 30 feet long, and weighed more than 4 tons.

Also recently discovered, the Lynthronax argestes was a tyrannosaur unearthed in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a vast tract of land in southern Utah where numerous dinosaur fossils over 75 million years old have been found. The carnivorous Lynthronax inhabited the area for millions of years during the Late Cretaceous Period, 95-70 million years ago.

Here are seven must-see dinosaur attractions in the Beehive State.

Dinosaur National Monument: Experience the world’s most famous dinosaur fossil quarry, a 200-foot-long sandbar layered with prehistoric plant and animal fossils discovered by paleontologist Earl Douglass in 1909. Families can view more than 1,500 dinosaur bones left exposed in the sandstone wall at the visitor center and utilize the monument’s numerous trails, tours and activities.

Explore hotel options in nearby Vernal

Ogden’s George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park: This eight-acre outdoor museum features prehistoric crawlers, predators, marine creatures and flying reptiles dating from the Permian through Cretaceous periods.

More than 125 realistic sculptures of dinosaurs, all reproduced based on the findings of fossil skeletal remains, fill the park in a native Utah setting.

North American Museum of Ancient Life: Located at Thanksgiving Point, the North American Museum of Ancient Life contains the world’s largest collection of mounted dinosaur skeletons, exhibiting more than 60 mounted dinosaur specimens and thousands of ancient fossils.

Kids can touch actual fossils and feel real dinosaur bones and eggs.

Explore hotel options in nearby Lehi

College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum: Best known for discovering the Utahraptor, Utah’s adopted state dinosaur and the star of Steven Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park film, the CEU Prehistoric Museum has eight complete skeletons for the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, dinosaur tracks removed from local coal mines, dinosaur eggs and other fossils.

Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry: Containing more Jurassic dinosaur bones per square yard than have been found anywhere else in the world, Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quary has excavated the bones of 74 individual dinosaurs. Over 12,000 bones have been excavated and thousands more have yet to be uncovered.

The Dinosaur MuseumFamilies can view exhibits showing how dinosaurs lived all over the world, as well as the latest in dinosaur skin research. The museum also contains a history hall of Hollywood dinosaur movies with memorabilia from the silent classics through the high tech movies of today.

St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm: Described as the most significant dinosaur track site in western North America, the Dinosaur Discovery Site houses some of the oldest and best preserved footprints in the world.

  Over 2,000 tracks made by a variety of early Jurassic dinosaurs are preserved in the exposed sandstone.

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