Searching For the Elusive Dinosaur

Our 4 year old grandson wanted to camp at Dinosaur Valley State Park with us.  He wanted to see the dinosaur tracks. When I originally tried to book a site there months earlier, the reservation center showed that there were only tent sites available. So I continued searching for nearby camping and found Cleburne State Park, which was about 35 minutes from Dinosaur Valley State Park and had a beautiful lake as well. I was able to reserve a site in a loop by the water with full hook ups. Unfortunately, you are not assured of a specific site when you reserve, just a spot in the loop. It’s first come, first served, when you arrive.

Some of the open area that was part of our campsite. The lake is visible in the background.
Some of the open area that was part of our campsite. The lake is visible in the background.

Due to an event that fell through, we actually arrived at the campground a day early. The staff had no problem accommodating our needs. We arrived on Wednesday night and the only other camper in our loop was the host. We were allowed to choose any spot of our liking and we chose site #46. It was a huge site that could accommodate our 5th wheel and the kids’ tent, with lots of left over room for the dog to frolic in. It was at the water’s edge with beautiful open views of the lake. This was a dream come true for me!

The next day, the campground started slowly filling up. By evening, all of the best spots were occupied. The kids joined us that evening a little later than planned as it began to get dark. Just as they finished setting up the tent, some other camp hosts came around to warn us of severe incoming storms and told us to keep a weather watch and where to go for safety if necessary. The tent came down and the kids and grandkids joined us in the 5th wheel which had enough room for all of us. We were cozy as we listened to the storms that night.

Fun at Dinosaur Valley State Park
Fun at Dinosaur Valley State Park

Morning came and the weather called for more rain. It rained a bit in the morning but we decided we were going to Dinosaur Valley as planned. As we drove toward the park, there was a Dinosaur World placed strategically before the entrance. The grandkids got excited. We continued into the park, checked out the little museum at the ranger station, and then proceeded to check out some large dinosaur figures near the gift shop. We were getting a bit hungry and grabbed our lunches and decided not to eat in the large picnic area but to head towards the river and find the trail to search for the dinosaur tracks anyway, even though there was a sign at the entrance of the park that said the tracks were not visible today. So we were not expecting to see anything.

Dinosaur tracks in the stone below the water
Dinosaur tracks in the stone below the water

We walked along the river a bit, and sure enough, it turns out that the water was clear enough to see some large dinosaur tracks in the river bed. We continued down the river and saw more. We found a great spot to sit and eat some lunch and watch people try to cross the boulders to the other side, where more tracks were visible. So after lunching, the kids and grandkids went in pursuit of the tracks. It was sunny and warm and a great day to get your feet wet. We were having fun.

Checking out the tricky part of the stream crossing
Checking out the tricky part of the stream crossing

After watching the kids, I wanted to go see the tracks on the other side. So I took off my shoes and scooped up my camera bag and purse, held Opa’s hand, and headed across the boulders. We got across and tried to take some pictures, enjoyed the scenery from that side and began to head back. It wasn’t too difficult to cross, but there were spots where your feet got totally covered by water and the current was pretty fast. And just as quickly, I started to go down, while Opa tried so hard to hold on and keep me up. And he did hold on, but I kept going, pulling Opa in with me. No harm done except that the cameras and phones and all the stuff in our pockets and my purse got soaked. It seems that one camera and phone did not survive the soaking. But we got to see the dinosaur tracks!

Everyone had fun, and the little ones wanted to see more dinosaurs. But it was nap time! The kids fell asleep as soon as we started driving, and we headed back to our beautiful campsite.

Checking out a Liliensternus at Dinosaur World
Checking out a Liliensternus at Dinosaur World

The next morning we headed out to Dinosaur World! I know it’s gimmicky, but it is a very good display, and the kids had a great time. There is a nice long walk through a park with many gigantic outdoor dinosaur displays accompanied by very good explanations of each type. The kids also got to dig for fossils and feed fish in a koi pond. It was the highlight of the trip for them. We found the dinosaurs and their tracks and had an awesome time!

 

Discovering Lystrosaurus
Discovering Lystrosaurus
Feeding the koi at Dinosaur World
Feeding the koi at Dinosaur World

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