Prehistoric fossilized dinosaur tracks certainly are fascinating to see and just by stepping off the distance in between each footprint, it becomes easy to imagine just how gigantic these extinct animals once were. Just like with any other animal, a footprint is all it takes to identify the dinosaur species that made the tracks eons ago. There will be plenty to wonder about when visiting a dinosaur tracks area and the experience will inspire learning more about natural history. There are several dinosaur tracks areas out west and one of the easiest to access can be found in the Moab BLM next to Arches National Park in Utah.
The Willow Springs Dinosaur Tracks are located near the Willow Springs Road BLM Dispersed Campground, which is a nice spot to camp for free next to two big National Parks. A previously published article describes how to access this dispersed camping area and it describes the dirt road conditions, which can be fairly rough. This is not a good place to be if heavy rain is in the forecast, because the red clay soil will turn into deep impassible mud. Fortunately, it rarely rains in this high desert, so the weather will likely not be a bother. However, there are deep ruts on Willow Springs Road from previous storms that will absolutely punish an ordinary passenger car, so a high ground clearance vehicle is best for the dinosaur tracks trip.
It is only a few miles from the campground to the Willow Springs Dinosaur Tracks, so hiking or biking is an option. In fact, there are a few famous mountain biking trailheads to be found along the dirt road on the way to the dinosaur tracks, so as can be imagined, biking is really the way to go. Willow Springs Road does continue onward to Balanced Rock inside Arches National Park, so after checking out the dinosaur footprints taking the side door into this National Park is a good option. This is especially true during the busy summer season when the waiting line at the main park entrance is mile long.
Upon arrival, the first glance of the Willow Springs Dinosaur Tracks will likely cause an onlooker to stop and scratch the noggin. The dinosaur tracks look as if they were embedded on an ancient road while the cement was still wet. The reason why is all debris and top soil was excavated off the pathway to expose the solidified ancient mud. There are likely many more dinosaur tracks on this rock shelf in this area, but they are still covered with mounds of red dirt soil that was deposited at a later date.
How the dinosaur tracks came to be is an interesting study that is well worth researching. This entire region was once covered with swamps and lakes that were the size of oceans, so this place has not always been an arid desert environment. The petrified sand dunes in Arches National Park are a good indication of the geological forces that caused this region to be frozen in time, just like cured cement. Visiting the Willow Springs Dinosaur Tracks will provide plenty to ponder over for many years to come, so be sure to chalk this free Moab BLM attraction high on the list!
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