Walk in the Shadows of Arizona Dinosaurs

By: Elena Acoba

Print This Page

From dinosaur museums to roadside attractions, Arizona has something for every lover of terrible lizards.

About the author

Elena Acoba

Elena Acoba

Since moving to Tucson in 1988, freelance writer Elena Acoba has enjoyed traveling to the four corners of Arizona. Her favorites spots in her adopted state: the natural wonders and the rich historical sights.

The Grand Canyon State is dinosaur country. Fossil remains of at least 15 different species have been discovered here. 

Whether you want to learn about the lives of dinosaurs, understand the work of paleontologists or laugh at the whimsy of prehistory, you can find it all in Arizona.

The Real Story

Imagining how dinosaurs lived in Arizona isn’t hard with scientific presentations at several attractions.

The comprehensive Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa traces Arizona’s history from the birth of the universe.

The age of the dinosaurs is depicted with a three-story waterfall and animatronic dinosaurs. Life-sized skeletal models, statues and fossil casts detail more than two dozen species. Kids can find fun activities in the Exploration Station.

Dinosaur tracks crisscross the state. You can see some about five miles west of Tuba City off of State Highway 160.

Informal guides will, for a fee, weave a tale while showing the tracks, as well as the claw of a Tyrannosaur and fossils of egg fragments from a Dilophosaurus.

A life-size skeletal model of Dilophosaurus is one of the highlights of the Flagstaff Museum of Northern Arizona’s Geology Gallery, which includes other fossils.

The visitors center at Petrified Forest National Park – one of the world’s largest concentrations of petrified wood – includes a bronze statue of a Coelophysis and bone casts of a Chindesaurus.

The Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon National Recreational Area near Page displays a skeletal model of the huge-clawed Therizinosaur through March 2012.

The traveling exhibit also includes a mechanical model of the aquatic Plesiosaur and a life-sized sculpture of the flying Pteranodon.

Kids’ Play

Youngsters seem naturally drawn to dinosaurs, and these Arizona attractions will appeal to the paleontologist in them. 

The new Dinosaur Discovery Center children’s museum in Tucson has touchable exhibits of dinosaur eggs, life-size sculptures and fossil-hunting tools.

Kids can create “dino drama” at the volcano table, extract toy skeletons out of sand and interact with an animatronic Triceratops.

The Children’s Museum Tucson’s “Dinosaur World” features robotic Tyrannosaurus rex, Kentrosaurus and Protoceratops models whose movements are timed to an accompanying video. Static exhibits show other dinosaurs and fossils.

Kids at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a combined zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden in Tucson, can dig through sand to uncover relics of dinosaurs or pound on blocks of cement to reveal models of fossil bones. They can also see how they size up next to a mural of the gigantic Sonorasaurus.

Scheduled “Fossils and Dino Dig” programs at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert let 5- to 10-year-olds dig resin casts of Hadrosaur and Coelophysis bones out of a large sand pit. Phone ahead for program dates.


Who can resist taking a picture next to a dinosaur at a roadside stop? Add to your vacation photo slide show with these attractions along and near iconic Route 66.

Holbrook, the gateway city to the Petrified Forest National Park, boasts a few terrible reptiles within three blocks of the visitor center on Navajo Boulevard.

At exit 303 off of Interstate 40, the Painted Desert Indian Center’s concrete beasts and Stewart’s Petrified Wood Shop’s homemade dinos attract potential shoppers east of Holbrook.

Originally called Dinosaur City, the underground Grand Canyon Caverns, 20 miles west of Seligman on Route 66, maintains the dinosaur theme with a couple of T. Rex statues out front and a skull near the gift shop.

Flintstones Bedrock City, a kitschy re-creation of the cartoon town – complete with a dinosaur slide and the Flintstone and Rubble homes – certainly provides for a “yabba dabba do” time. Find it in Valle off of State Route 64, 32 miles north of Williams.


Similar Articles

  • Arizona Campgrounds Kids Will Love

    by Teresa K. Traverse

  • Distinctly Arizonan July 4th Celebrations

    by Arizona Office of Tourism

  • 3 Perfect Days at the Grand Canyon

    by Arizona Office of Tourism

  • First Timer's Guide to the Grand Canyon

    by Arizona Office of Tourism

  • 3 Day Trips for Spring Training Fans

    by Jake Poinier

  • Arizona Lights Up the Holidays 2018

    by Arizona Office of Tourism

  • Arizona Holiday Getaways—from or with—the Family

    by Arizona Office of Tourism

  • Explore West Coast Arizona for Outdoors, Food and Nostalgia

    by Sponsored Content

  • Eat, Drink, and Explore Tucson and Tombstone

    by Sponsored Content

  • Explore Northern Arizona

    by Sponsored Content

Our website uses cookies and similar technology to provide a more personalized experience for you. By continuing to use our site, you consent to their use. For more information, please see our updated privacy policy.