Because this hike is mostly downhill, it is an easy hike. We say mostly downhill, but there are places involving a bit of rock scrambling if the ranger leading the hike that day wishes to point out some still-imbedded dinosaur bones. For most the hike would be meaningless unless you joined one of the scheduled interpretive walks with a park ranger. In fact, in the interest of preserving Dinosaur’s fossils, the park discourages individuals from striking out alone. But make this hike you should, for the short hike descends through six geological formations—meaning that when you reach the bottom, you will have hiked through eighty million years of time. Dinosaur National Monument has the most complete geological record of any U.S. national park. As a keeper of earth’s march of time as it is revealed in rock, the record exceeds even that of the Grand Canyon. The hike begins in the Morrison Formation, the layer in which dinosaur bones are most commonly located. A dozen or more feet farther, the Morrison Formation gives way to the Stump Formation, rock you can see outside the quarry and which is characterized by a crumbling appearance. The formation is a repository of gastropods and other marine organisms. It is also the area in which our ranger/naturalist guide showed us petrified wood. When you realize these fossils existed during the time dinosaurs roamed the area, you understand what an incredible sight you are seeing. Also present in the Morrison Formation was chert, a dark rock used by Indians for making arrowheads.
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