Camping at Dinosaur Valley State Park

After a great Thanksgiving holiday, Friday morning we packed up our truck and headed to Dinosaur Valley State Park for a camping trip with my brother, sister-in-law and 10 month old newphew.

I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months! We love Dinosaur Valley, we came here several times for day trips back when we lived in Dallas. It’s been several years since our last trip and I couldn’t wait to share the park with Evie. There’s something very novel about touching a dinosaur footprint!

It’s a four hour drive from our house so we decided to stop at Baylor both on the way down and the way back to stretch our legs. It’s a beautiful campus and a great place for E to run around. She loved visiting “sic ’em bears!” More importantly while we were on campus I saw a sign for the Bearathon (!!!) to be held March 22. It’s a half and is only three weeks after my scheduled full. Perfect timing!

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our campsite

Once we got there it didn’t take us long to get our camping equipment unpacked and our tent put up.

Our campsite was nice and backed up to the site my brother and his family were in. A small trail led from our site to theirs though some trees.

The weather was cooperative. It was a little chilly but turned out to be pretty much perfect. No rain, just cool enough for a campfire at night and just warm enough during the day for you to not shiver.

Back in the pre-kid days we would have hiked the entire park but during this trip, with three kids under three, a three mile hike seemed appropriate and even a little ambitious. By the time the hike was over both babies had melted and E was asleep in her daddy’s arms.

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To her credit she hiked a full TWO MILES up and down some steep hills. I am impressed she made it that far!

Seeing the footprints is such a special experience. No matter how many times we visit I am still in awe that we have access to something so unique. Unlike in a museum where you’re told DO NOT TOUCH, at Dinosaur Valley not only can you touch them, you can stand in them. It’s fantastic!

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crossing the Paluxy river, hunting for prints

It is quite an adventure finding the prints. They’re in and around the Paluxy river so you have to cross the river just to get close. If there’s been rain in the area recently the river will cover them completely, luckily for us the river was down but most of the prints in the water were covered in mud and debris.

Even when you find a print it’s difficult to know what you’re looking at. Some of the prints are eroded badly, making them unrecognizable. You find yourself wondering, “Is that a footprint or a hole in the rock?”

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eroded footprints

You may spend 20 minutes crossing your eyes, struggling to use your imagination but then you see one clearly. Once you see one, you start to see them all over the place.

Oh, there’s one!

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this print is freshly uncovered by the flooding river

There’s another one!

And one over there!

Oh my goodness! They’re everywhere! This is incredible!

Then you do silly things, like sit your kids in a mud puddle to take a picture.

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Camping with two little kids is hard – but isn’t everything? The memories I have of camping as a child are some of my most cherished. They embody everything that’s awesome about being a kid. Though Evie and Alvy are too young to remember this particular trip we will continue to take them to this and other special places to build their own sets of special memories.

The moral of the story here is that if you have kids (and a sense of adventure) take them to see the dinosaur footprints at Dinosaur Valley! It is a trip that they, and you, aren’t likely to forget any time soon! 

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