Dinosaur Hill

McInnis Canyons Hiking

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Dinosaur Hill
Date: 2/25/2010
Difficulty: Easy
Miles: Approx. 1 mile
Rating: 3halfstar
Type: Loop
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 39° 7’58.73″N, 108°44’10.61″W

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Dinosaur Hill is located just South of Fruita Colorado across the road from Kingsview Estates. To access the area from Grand Junction, travel west on I-70 to the Fruita exit. Turn left and travel a little over 1.5 miles. The entrance is located on the left hand side of the road.

Elmer Riggs came to Fruita in the early 1900’s and began digging in the side of the hill that is now called Dinosaur Hill. Elmer Riggs was an Assistant Curator of Paleontology at the Field museum is Chicago. Mr. Riggs is also well known for his findings at the current “Riggs Hill” where he found the remains of Brachiosaurus which was an unknown dinosaur and the largest one ever found before. During his excavations at Dinosaur Hill Mr. Riggs uncovered the rear  two thirds of a Brontosaurus. One thing that made this discovery so interesting was that one of the creatures ribs had been broken and healed during it’s lifetime. They believe the ground around the head, neck and lower parts of the dinosaur was probably eroded and those parts washed away.

The trail itself is a short self guided loop. There are 10 points of interest along the trail that describes certain elements of the area.

The first point of interest is a little out of the way, just a few yards up the hill from the kiosk, the trail branches to the left and will take you down to a large boulder with a mold of a huge Femur bone from a Diplodocus type dinosaur. We almost missed this point due to it’s location.

The trail steadily climbs to the top of the hill where there is a small covered bench you can sit at and take in the view of Fruita to the North and the Colorado National Monument to the South. The trail follows th top of the hill for a short distance and then drops down the East side and takes you to the excavation site of where the Brontosaurus was found.

This is an interesting area. There is a monument with a plaque on it similar to the one at Riggs Hill commemorating the event. To the side of the plaque is the cave Elmer Riggs dug the dinosaur out of. The cave is gated off and locked out of course. And on the other side of the plaque is a cast of a vertebrae half buried in th ground.

From the excavation site, the trail casually leads back to the beginning where there are some covered picnic tables and restrooms.

This is a great trail to take the kids on for a learning experience and as a compliment to the Dinosaur Journey Museum down the road in Fruita. There are a number of trails in the general area as well as the Monument with all it’s trails and views.

This is a fun short hike that I rate as a 3 1/2 mainly due to the history of the area and of course the scenery.




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