Ranger Kathryn's Arches

July 11, 2009

Mill Canyon’s Dinosaurs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 4:07 pm
Dino tail bones in rock (what's left after vandalism)

Dino tail bones in rock (what's left after vandalism)

In the dusty recesses of my brain I remembered “Mile Marker 141” and “cross the railroad tracks.”  As Olive and I head off the main road, I see several hand-lettered signs detailing parking.  This was (or would become) a 4WD road, but for now it is passable.  I am headed for a cool place where dino bones stick out of the Morrison Formation.

Everything here screams JEEPS as I pick my way down the smoothest part of the graded dirt road.  Plenty of off-road tracks confirm that these BLM lands are heavily used by vehicles quite different from Olive.  Two miles.  That’s all I have to do.

Sauropod scapula (dino shoulder blade)

Sauropod scapula (dino shoulder blade)

A distinctly Badlands-ish look characterizes the Morrison Formation.  Its sediments were deposited when the climate was tropical; dinos roamed the area around here.  Sadly, artifact hunters have illegally removed plenty of specimens from these public lands.  I shall see what remains.

Fine red sands cover the road in places, but Olive plunges ahead.  Two miles in I am happy to discover a parking area and signage that teaches me about what lies just across the wash.  Bones!  In situ!  With interpretive signs teaching me what to look for so I can find my own!  Sauropods ruled here.  This is waaaaay cool.

View to the south: Big Mesa, Determination Towers

View to the south: Big Mesa, Determination Towers

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