If you have a 3-year-old who runs through the house screaming: “Mommy, Mommy, a Camarasaurus is chasing me” (like I do), then it’s time to head to Wyoming.
That’s where you’ll find the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. My little one has outgrown the “sandbox” dinosaur dig pit at our local museum and longs to play paleontologist at a larger venue. Digging for a 15-ton long-necked herbivore… well, it doesn’t get much bigger than that.
So here we are planning a summer trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming (yeah, who knew?) –located about 80 miles southeast of Cody–to toss some dirt around at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. The center is part dinosaur museum and part working dinosaur lab. (The lab portion requires you to drive 15 miles from the center to the Warm Springs Ranch—that’s where the dig sites are located.)
The center offers a variety of “dig” options. You can take a one-hour tour or spend weeks at a time assisting on an excavation project. At first, I was a little reluctant to believe that my dinosaur-loving daughter would enjoy digging around what used to be a large outdoor basin, but according to the research I’ve done on the center, there seems to be a host of kid-friendly programs. The one that caught my eye was the “Kids Dig” program where children are given an interactive lesson about the site. Apparently, evidence shows that the Warm Springs Ranch site sits just west of what was once a large alkaline body of water, which provided the ideal conditions for preserving plant and animal life from the Jurassic Period.
Visitors to the center are encouraged to grab a pick and trowel and join in actual excavations. Believe it or not, there are real bones out there. The center says its most famous find was unearthed in 1993 by scientists and volunteers digging on the 500-acre ranch–a 45-foot Camarasaurus. (Yes, the very one my daughter says was chasing her—-just kidding.)
Wonder what we’ll find during our dig?