American dinosaur fans may be the world’s luckiest. If you’re willing to pack your bag and fasten your seatbelt, you can take in a true bounty of Mesozoic attractions without leaving the continent.
1. Denver Museum of Nature & Science - Denver
This mile-high gem features a magnificent paleontology hall… and quite possibly the most unusual T. rex mount you’ll ever see. With one leg kicking upwards, the museum’s replica Tyrannosaurus skeleton strikes a dramatic pose, demonstrating how athletic these massive beasts may have been 65 million years ago.
2. Petrified Forest National Park - Northeastern Arizona
Stunningly gorgeous, the park is loaded with breathtaking Southwestern scenery. It’s also home to the Rainbow Forest Museum, which houses a menagerie of prehistoric reptiles—including several early dinos.
3. Dinosaur Park - Rapid City, South Dakota
Established in 1936, this assemblage of dinosaur statues is a neat stop on your way to Mt. Rushmore. And, better yet, it’s absolutely free.
4. Dinosaur State Park – Rocky Hill, Connecticut
This park contains an impressive dinosaur track way that’s among North America’s largest. Five hundred preserved Jurassic footprints memorialize their prehistoric makers beneath a 55,000 square-foot dome.
5. Mesalands Dinosaur Museum – Tucumcari, New Mexico
Bronze dino sculptures and a few billion years’ worth of fossilized history are on display at the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum. Their staff also coordinates annual field classes every summer, allowing amateur dinosaur fans to dig up some beautifully preserved bones.
6. Carnegie Museum of Natural History - Pittsburgh
The facility’s historic, internationally acclaimed dinosaur exhibit was renovated in 2005 to update its existing skeletons, add several new ones, and triple in size. Curators have taken painstaking care to pose each dinosaur in an accurate fashion, so these exhibits may be the next best thing to seeing live dinos.
7. Haddonfield, New Jersey
Before 1858, dinosaurs were largely known from assorted bits and pieces. But that fateful summer, academia finally got a sense of what they actually looked like when the world’s first nearly complete skeleton was located near this dreamy garden state borough. Today, downtown Haddonfield honors its heritage with a life-sized statue of Hadrosaurus foulkii: the animal which kick-started modern dino science.
8. The Montana Dinosaur Trail
If you only want to see dinosaurs in a single state, Montana’s got you covered. Fourteen paleontology museums from across the state have banded together, handing out “Prehistoric Passport” booklets to tourists and encouraging them to collect a stamp from every location.
9. The Field Museum of Natural History - Chicago
In 1997, “Sue”—the most complete T. rex skeleton yet unearthed—was acquired by the FMNH for the astronomical sum of $8.36 million. At 40 feet in length, she makes for an impressive centerpiece, perfectly capping off one of the Midwest’s greatest fossil collections.
10. Dinosaur Ridge – Morrison, Colorado
Hike alongside trails of dinosaur footprints, gaze upon ancient plant impressions, and visit the bone-bed where prehistoric celebrity Stegosaurus was first discovered at this incredible outdoor museum.
11. Dinosaur National Monument’s Quarry Exhibit Hall – near Vernal, Utah
Resting under a manmade roof is a unique Jurassic graveyard. Roughly 1,500 individual dinosaur bones remain lodged inside this wall of stone, displayed in their final resting place for all the world to see and study.
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