Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum

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Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum
Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum is a unique 63-acre (250,000 m 2) state park located 20 minutes south of Hartford at 400 West Street, Rocky Hill, Connecticut, USA. It contains one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America, with early Jurassic fossil tracks in sandstone from about 200 million years ago.

The Connecticut Valley has extensive fossil discoveries. Some of these fossils date to the Jurassic Period. Many specimens uncovered in brownstone quarries during the 1800s are included into the collections of museums throughout the world. History was made 1966 when hundreds of dinosaur tracks were exposed in Rocky Hill. The dinosaur tracks in Rocky Hill were discovered by a bulldozer operator who was excavating for a new state building. The site became Dinosaur State Park, which became a Registered National Landmark in 1968.

Dinosaur tracks
Dinosaur State Park is one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. The tracks are from the early Jurassic period and were made over 200 million years ago by a carnivorous dinosaur similar to Dilophosaurus. At present 500 tracks are enclosed within a 55,000-square-foot (5,100 m 2) geodesic dome; the remaining 1,500 are buried for preservation. The park's in-site tracks are Eubrontes, named by Prof. Edward Hitchcock, pioneering student of fossilized tracks and one of America's first geologists. The tracks range from 10 to 16 inches (410 mm) in length and are spaced 3.5 to 4.5 feet (1.4 m) apart. The exhibit center also includes rock slabs with other Connecticut Valley fossil tracks, including large four-toed Otozoum tracks with clearly visible skin impressions. In addition to the tracks, the dome houses life-sized dioramas depicting the Triassic and Jurassic periods, complete with common plants and creatures, and including the aforementioned Dilophosaurus. There are also several interactive displays, a reconstruction of a geologic foundation, highlights of the tracks’ discovery, as well as a discovery room with several lizards, some Madagascar hissing cockroaches and dinosaur arts and crafts.

The arboretum's goal is to grow representatives of as many Mesozoic Era plant families as possible on the site. It currently contains more than two miles (3 km) of nature trails with more than 250 species and cultivars of conifers, plus collections of arborvitae, chamaecyparis, ginkgo, juniper, Katsura, pine, and magnolia. Some rarer species in the arboretum's collection include the evergreen Southern Magnolia and the Monkey Puzzle. Recent plantings have focused on woody plants from the Cretaceous angiosperm families.

Events and Activities
Dinosaur State Park Day is usually held each year in August, has had almost 2,000 visitors come to the state park and participate in games, experiment with arts and crafts and listen to live music, while also being able visit the indoor and outdoor features of the park. Events and prizes are funded by The Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum, Inc.(FDPA), as well as 25 other sponsors, such as, Subway (restaurant), Starbucks and Big Y. The arboretum has an auditorium that shows educational films on the weekends that rotate accordingly. During warmer months, visitors can create their own track casts in the track casting area. Some other activities include educational programs that are centered around including guided trail walks, lectures, films and more.

Park Hours and Admission
The park grounds are open daily 9 a.m. ”“ 4:30 p.m. (trails close at 4:00 p.m.). The exhibit center is open 9 a.m. ”“ 4:30 p.m. Tuesday thru Sunday"closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The cost is $5 for adults and teens (13 and over); $2 for youths (ages 6-12); and free for children five and under.