Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Texas Road Trip: Glen Rose

My kids are on Spring Break this week. Due to my husband's work schedule and our big splurge vacation a few months ago, we could not travel far or be away from home for a long time. So, we decided to see a town in Texas that has been beckoning us for years, Glen Rose. We actually had a hotel booked in Glen Rose last year during Memorial Day weekend, but we had to cancel our trip due to the flooding in the area.

Glen Rose is about a two hour drive from our house.

Historical Downtown Glen Rose, Texas

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Our first stop was Dinosaur Valley State Park. The big draw to this state park is the presence of fossilized dinosaur footprints in the river bed. The entrance fee is $7 for adults, and kids 12 and under are free.

We first stopped at the visitors center and read about the type of tracks we would see. There was a volunteer at an information booth that talked to us about the best areas to have a picnic lunch and see some tracks.

We drove further into the park to the main picnic area and stopped for lunch.

The picnic area also had a playground, which was nice since we were cooped up in the car for two hours.

Behind the playground was a Wildlife Discovery Trail with educational signs along the way. We didn't walk this trail, but we would have if we had more time.

Next, we drove further along the park road to track site #2. We parked, walked down some stairs and talked to the park rangers near the river. They suggested we follow this trail along the river bed to see some dinosaur tracks.

And we found some tracks! They are hard to see in this photo. They are only visible when the river water level is low. (The best time to visit is usually August).

We took our shoes off and walked around the river bed for a while.

One of the neat things about this trail by the river is that the sand was super soft, like a beach, and there were sea shells. According to this map, this area was once on the edge of an inland sea.
We could have spent the entire day at the park exploring different track sites and playing in the river. I wished we had more time.

We came back to the park later at night for a group campfire put on by the park rangers. The ranger told spooky stories, and we made s'mores. Afterwards, there was a group flashlight hike, but our younger kids were super tired so we didn't participate.

My entire family enjoyed Dinosaur Valley State Park more than we thought we would. There was a lot of interesting terrain, and the hiking was more exciting because we were looking for dinosaur tracks. Two of my kids said this park was their favorite part of our entire trip to Glen Rose.

Dinosaur World

Right outside the entrance to Dinosaur Valley State Park is Dinosaur World. This attraction has over 150 life-sized dinosaurs around an outdoor path as well as an indoor museum, fossil dig site and playground.

We purchased the excavation pass for our kids, which included mining for gems here:

It was a beautiful day for the dinosaur walk. We saw and read about many types of dinosaurs.

Looks like Jurassic Park!

The fossil dig happens at select times, and kids are allowed to keep three fossils.

Our kids loved this huge dinosaur-themed playground.

We were glad we visited Dinosaur World. It was a sunny 80 degrees when we were there, but we couldn't imagine going in the 100-degree weather during the summer months.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

Fossil Rim is a drive-through safari park. Our hotel had coupons for a free bag of animal food before 9 a.m., so we arrived around 8:30 a.m. (Show your AAA card or Dallas Zoo membership for discount admission).

We saw some bison and A LOT of deer.

The emus were my favorite. I love their faces!

Some of the zebras were very hungry and assertive!

This big horn sheep was very sweet.

Wild turkeys:

Half-way through the drive, there was an overlook with a restaurant, gift shop and petting zoo. The petting zoo had some goats to brush and some big tortoises we could see from over the fence.

One of the highlights of Fossil Rim is supposed to be feeding the giraffes from your hand. Unfortunately, the giraffes weren't coming over to cars while we were there, so we could only observe them from afar.

We also saw a roadrunner, rhinos and cheetas (which were fenced in). And lots of deer. It took us 2 1/2 hours to drive through the entire park.

I know that many people in the DFW area drive to Glen Rose just for Fossil Rim, but honestly we enjoyed Glen Rose's other attractions better. I'm sure it's a different experience each time depending on the animals, timing, temperature, etc.

Big Rocks Park

Big Rocks Park sits near the river near downtown Glen Rose. This was my middle son's favorite spot in Glen Rose. It's just a city park with a bunch of really big rocks near the river, but it's so different from anything we have near us. We all got some parkour practice by jumping from rock to rock.

We cooled off in the river before leaving.


We stayed at the Best Western Dinosaur Valley Inn & Suites for free using Citi Thankyou points. We had not stayed in a Best Western for a very long time, but this small town does not have a Hyatt, Hilton or Marriott. The Holiday Inn did not have any rooms available during our trip.

The hotel has a porch in the front and back with rocking chairs.

The lobby has a western feel:

My family enjoyed the free popcorn in the lobby!

The hotel has a free breakfast with waffles (in the shape of Texas, of course), eggs, fruit, yogurt and breads. The sitting area is very small, since each table only fits three people.

Our room was very spacious and had two queen beds and a sofa bed.

The outdoor pool area was lovely, with a large pool:

And a covered children's pool:

And a great big hot tub!!
The only downside to this hotel was that the mattresses were not very comfortable. I woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn't get back to sleep because I was uncomfortable. We could hear the springs in the mattresses when we sat on the beds. And don't even get me started on the sofa bed mattress--I don't know how my kids got any sleep on that at all! But, some people may not be bothered by the mattresses at all...I am used to my bed at home and the nice plush beds at Hyatt hotels.

Overall, the Best Western is a great value, and the pool area must be great in the warmer weather.

The town has a few other hotels, several Bed and Breakfasts, cabin rentals and a luxury lodge. One place even has a railroad car for a room!


Since we brought food for lunches and our hotel had a free breakfast, we only tried out two local restaurants during our trip. The downtown area has a lot of family-owned unique restaurants with great reviews.

We ate dinner at The Green Pickle.

The inside had unique decor and old photos. Our table had a box of dominoes that the kids played with until our dinner arrived.
We enjoyed fried pickles, cheese sticks and burgers.

We also ate at Los Primos Mexican restaurant, but we cannot recommend it to others. The service was so slow that the table next to us walked out. Our food was bland, and we were disappointed.

I'm glad the weather and timing worked out for us to finally visit Glen Rose. It's a neat little town with a lot of charm and several interesting attractions. Would we go back? Probably not, but only because we have a long list of other Texas road trip destinations on our wish list. Glen Rose is worth not just a day trip, but a few days to explore what the town has to offer.

(For other Texas road trip inspiration, see my posts on Amarillo, Jellystone, Wichita Falls, San Antonio, Victoria and Galveston).

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