In Southeast Colorado, a "Dinosaur Lover's Dream"

Jan 15, 2016

The three-taloned print of a theropod, a carnivore, stood out at a Picketwire Canyon site in Colorado. The round or oval tracks were made by a sauropod, a herbivore.
Credit Matthew Staver / New York Times

The New York Times reported this week on a hidden treasure in southeast Colorado—what the Times called “a dinosaur lover’s dream.” Picketwire Canyon is located on the Comanche National Grassland south of La Junta.

Take a two hour ride down a dirt road. There you’ll find hundreds of hubcap-size theropod and sauropod footprints pressed into a layer of limestone. The dinosaur footprints stretch for yards. They disappear and reappear, showing where floods and the river itself altered the landscape. 

According to one paleontologist, Picketwire may be the biggest collection of dinosaur tracks in the world.

But these fossils also may be in danger. The National Historic Preservation Act strictly protects human structures built 50 or more years ago on federal lands. But there is no law that protects paleontological resources to the same degree.