One hundred and fifty million years ago three dinosaurs, an Apatosaurus, a Diplodocus, and a Stegosaurus were all hanging out in the swampy lowlands at the eastern foot of the Elko highlands, in an area known today as Morrison, Colorado.
Back in the later half of the 19th century, a gentleman by the name of Arthur Lakes, one of those gentlemen of that bygone era who wore a lot of hats - artist, minister, mining engineer, teacher, writer and geologist, discovered the remains of all three of those aforementioned dinosaurs in the formation at a place now called Dinosaur Ridge.
That's about five miles from my house. I've gone up there a number of times, and even re-painted one of the large plastic representations of a Stegosaurus that are displayed in front of the Dinosaur Ridge Museum located at the base of the trail (the easy access is off the west Alameda Parkway exit on I-70, either east or west bound).
This is not the one I re-painted. This one was done right
This is the one I re-painted - it's used in the Fourth of July parade
This was once the bottom of the Western Interior Seaway
There are guided tours with geologist who work at the museum, or you can just walk the mile and a half yourself. You cannot miss the tracks, and there are plenty of prominent signs to explain what you're looking at along the route.
Dinosaur Ridge staffer laying down some serious science about the dinosaur tracks
The museum itself is small, but well put together and features a bone quarry, with dinosaur bones that you can actually handle.
The Morrison Natural History Museum, in the small town of Morrison a scant two miles further east, has some of the fossils uncovered by Arthur Lakes and his crew. That particular museum also has some interesting information on the more modern history of the area as well.
Dinosaurs, as everyone knows, are cool. The western states are dotted with small museums devoted to finds of early geologists such as A. Lakes. The Dinosaur Ridge museum staff will be happy to tell you all about infamous Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, two paleontologists who would stop at nothing to outdo one another in the quest for paleontological supremacy.
That may sound like a bit of exaggeration, but it's not. That's actually an understatement. According to every geologist and paleontologist at the Ridge I've talked with, those two made the bickering between the Dems and Repubs look like a playground spat.
If science is your thing (and why wouldn't it be?), then an afternoon spent with a some solid evidence of the earth's past is well worth your while.
Though I must tell you, once you get an idea of how little time humans have actually existed on this rock, and how very, very irrelevant we are as a species, it does curb your enthusiasm for recycling a little.