Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
Grand Junction is home to the “Dinosaur Journey,” – a combination museum and t-rex size gift shop dedicated to promoting the fossil finds of the Western Slope. My less than scientific theory on roadside “museums,” is that if the spaced allotted to selling unrelated souvenirs outweighs the actual exhibits then it doesn’t deserve to bill itself as a museum. I would think it difficult to contruct a museum, but easy to fill bins with quartz rocks and fake poop with googly eyes and add a few cash registers. Arizona’s Meteor Crater is probably the most extreme example I’ve seen to date.
The tounge twisting “Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center” is located in Woodland Park, Colorado, west of Colorado Springs on highway 24. My original take was that like its counterpart in Grand Junction, the Dinosaur Resource Center was a mere tourist stop where kids expel pent up energy while parents stretch and use the restroom.
My coworker was doing just that a few weeks back with his family, and gave me a first hand review. I saw the photos and was ready to instantly label it “roadside kitsch,” but his account gave it more credit than I did when first seeing the photos of plastic dinosaurs decorating the outside. (And those are important, because that’s what gets kids excited about visiting.) And brings people in for the souvenirs.
Inside is a collection of real fossil constructions and recreations, from small marine reptiles to enormous mammoths. The actual real estate devoted to exhibits and fossils is quite extensive. The company behind the museum is far more impressive than expected, and background is more extensive than I would think when looking at the photos. The museum is an offshoot of Triebold Paleontology, a company which provides logistics for fossil digs, skeletal construction, and related assistance to museums and expedition groups. The work of Mike and J.J. Triebold is seen in exhibits around the world, and according to their bio they’ve been featured on Discovery Channel and other networks.
Their reconstructions at the museum look quite impressive, including a turtle and large fish found in western Kansas – estimated to be aged 83 million years.
Perhaps I’m not the only one who calculates credibility based on floor space, because their site has this line: “RMDRC encompasses 20,000sq. ft. of which 12,000sq. ft. is dedicated to exhibits.” – There you go – it is a real museum.
Of all the tourist related activities that the Colorado Springs area offers this one looks underrated and well worth a visit. If dinosaurs aren’t your thing my second overlooked suggestion would be the Van Briggle Pottery Factory(left) down the hill in Colorado Springs, where you can purchase many of these hand crafted items for your home. However letting your kids run around rooms with dozens of upright pots may not be a good idea either…
Back at the museum you can see Nick, pictured below, was quite impressed. He gave it 5 stars on Tripadvisor.