During our first visit to Texas in exactly 25 years (July, 1993), we spent a couple of hours in Dinosaur Valley State Park near the small town of Glen Rose (which is southwest of the Dallas – Fort Worth area). From Stephenville (a sizeable town on Highway 281), take State Highway 67 to the east and use your GPS. The state park is not far from the privately operated for profit Dinosaur Museum.
A short distance up the road before you get to the museum and then the state park, there is a Creation Evidence Museum. Perhaps this privately owned museum is there to counter the effect of the fossilized dinosaur foot tracks on people’s thinking and/or beliefs. (I had visited a similar type institution while in San Diego in 1996.) Hey, although the currently accepted theory of evolution does have some serious problems, there is undoubtedly some truth in the idea of natural selection and the survival of species that have traits more advantageous than other competing species possess. But, for those who think or assert that evolution somehow disproves the existence of a Creator God, I would humbly suggest that an all-knowing and all-powerful God could choose to create the universe, and the life within it, in any of a number of ways.
Now, let us turn to the many photos taken in the unusual state park.
After paying the modest entrance fee (7 US$ per adult), we drove to one of the 2 principal areas for getting down to the fossilized dinosaur (terrible lizard) tracks. Were these large reptiles protective social animals?
A short hike down to the water and the tracks provides some views of a current swimming hole for human visitors.
An informational plaque along the trail. We are descending down to the ballroom, so-called for its many tracks of dinosaurs that were dancing along the clay here several tens of millions of years ago.
It is an overcast or cloudy day here in east central Texas as we walk down towards the swimming area.
The thin end of an overhanging tree branch almost looks like “dark” lightning in this image. Swimmers were just below us and could be seen when we moved closer to the edge of the trail.
A short while later, we are approaching the tracks after passing by the swimming area and progressing further down the course of the river.
After skipping across some stones to avoid getting our shoes wet, we are among the fossilized tracks. The thought occurs to me that my entire life has been a critical path that has, after nearly 60 years, brought me to this ancient site thousands of miles from my current home.
These fossilized foot prints tell us that these dinosaurs were three-toed. The fossilized depressions in the stone capture rain water from passing seasonal thunder showers.
Hints of footprints are visible here in the dry stone (limestone?) along the dry water course.
Another concretized or fossilized foot print.
We are leaving these images in the orientation in which they were taken. This first area (“the ballroom site”) was actually the more impressive of the two I looked at as there were more clearly defined tracks here.
Lucy was at this point feeling the heat more than me and was growing fatigued or (more accurately) stressed by it. This was midday heat on 27 July in east central Texas. The temperature at that time was 100 degrees Farenheit (37.8 C).
Some tracks were submerged in the remnants of the seasonal water course that had not dried out by this date in the summer.
Abstract art or natural beauty?
Of course, as we walk along this ancient land that terrible lizards once roamed so many eons past, we realize that the continent itself was located at that time further to the southeast. Species come and go, and there are major extinction events that open the pathways for new species to develop and flourish (in the case of the dinosaurs dying off, mammals were then able to grow and differentiate and eventually dominate the planet), continents “drift” across the surface of the globe connecting with and breaking apart from other continents, and even stars eventually exhaust their nuclear fuel and violently explode and then vanish. Is there a lesson here? Perhaps, it is that nothing is permanent in this material universe.
Here we see the last photo taken in this ballroom area. In a sense, a rather haunting image.
On the path to the next area of tracks – simply called “main track site” on the park map – we see this plaque. It was, some eighty or more years ago, a quite revolutionary idea at the time that some dinosaurs walked upright and were bi-pedal.
Although the paved park loop road is rather short, really quite short, the trails branching off of it are rather lengthy hikes and are best undertaken in either Spring or early Fall to avoid hot summer temps, and cold winter temps with the short winter days.
Lucy was not up to this second excursion and she stayed back at the parking area while I walked among these tracks and shot several pics.
This image is rather baffling as it is not clear to me if these are just pot holes in the stone formed by erosion, or if these depressions truly are fossilized imprints left by the giant lizards.
Another nearby scene.
The shape of this depression seems to imply that it was made by a large animal.
The nearby river and vegetation is seen in this image.
Looking across towards another walking trail, we see a couple of hikers with bright-colored clothing.
As it was hot, I had left my wife back at the car, and it appeared that this trackway continued for some distance, I neared the point at which I opted to return. The stone trackway continued in the distance and curved to the right.
There were a number of folks visiting the state park that day, and it was good to see families with young children enjoying the modest yet intriguing explorations to be had.
A local “pond” among the rocks. Some of these ponds (especially back at the “ballroom” site) near to the river had some very small fish in them, which were likely cut off from the main watercourse over the past several weeks as the summer heat dried out the area.
Clearly, it was a challenge here to see the dino tracks. Some tracks were ill-defined and even had much loose stone or gravel and dust in them.
A view to give a sense of what the visitor walks over in this area. A walker must be careful as there are opportunities so to speak to sprain one’s ankle or trip on loose rocks.
Here we see hints of dinosaur tracks that are not so clearly defined. Just use your imagination.
This depression was rather deep compared to the nearby tracks. It could just be a pot hole, or were dinosaurs prone to digging in the clay or soil of the time?
Another nearby scene.
Here again, it is difficult to “see” the tracks with all the broken up rocks and pebbles.
The nearby water and vegetation.
A depression in the rock layer that could be a track.
A final glance back and then I make tracks myself for the car.
Driving along the park’s paved loop road back towards the park entrance/exit, we see these life-size dinosaur models in the distance.
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