Paleontologists have discovered fossilised dinosaur footprints on every continent, even Antarctica. But which ones are the best? Which ones should you see? We’ve done the research for you and found the 14 best places to see real dinosaur tracks throughout the globe.
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What are fossilised dinosaur footprints called?
Fossilised dinosaur footprints and tracks are called ichnites and the study of them is known as ichnology. Paleontologists use the size of the imprint, the shape and the length from one to another to work out what dinosaur made the prints and how fast they were moving- The direction of the prints can tell us something about the landscape at the time the prints were made and even what the dinosaurs were doing – such as escaping a predator.
How did dinosaur tracks survive?
Dinosaur tracks can only be seen where the ground that the dinosaur was walking on was sufficiently soft to make an impression but not so soft that the footprint collapses (true tracks). Most tracks that have been found were thought to once be on a river bed or coastline.
In some cases, the impression made by the dinosaur will also be made below the track (known as undertracks, underprints or ghost prints). This under tract may form a few centimeters ad up to a metre below where the dinosaur’s foot actually pressed into the ground.
Normally, the scorching sun will need to be baked the tracks until they harden if they are going to form a fossil. This may have taken days, or even months. Once hardened, a layer of mush ash, or similar covers and protects the prints. Over time, they fossilise.
How we chose the list
Obviously, we didn’t just pick random sites: we used two main criteria to select the best ones.
- The location: This includes the proximity to major cities and ease of transport, what else there is to do at the site or whether there are other dinosaur sites in the area, as well as the accessibility of the site, especially with small dinosaur fans.
- The tracks: The main factor is the number and quality of the tracks, however the variety of dinosaurs that have been identified as making the tracks and other special features (e.g. imprints of skin, age of tracks) have also been considered.
A couple more points before we get to the list
This is not an exhaustive list – there are many other places to see dinosaur fossils. These are just the 14 best places to see real dinosaur tracks based on the number or quality of the tracks or the quality of the museum or park where they are found.
In most cases, the track locations are reasonably isolated, making getting there a problem if you do not have your own transport. In many cases, there are other dinosaur highlights to see in the area too, so that you can easily make a day of it.
These sites are not ranked in any order. For simplicity, we will look at them one region after another.
Many countries have imposed measures to fight the spread of COVID-19, which can even include closures. Make sure you check opening times and requirements before you go.
Some also have seasonal closures; you may not be able to see the footprints at high tide or certain weather conditions. Again, check the conditions before you go.
The best places to see real dinosaur tracks in the Americas
With so many dinosaur fossils found in the USA and Canada in particular, it is not surprising that some of the best places to see real dinosaur tracks are located not far from some of those finds. However, some of the best might not be where you expect.
1. Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas
Best for number and quality
With around 1,500 dinosaur tracks, Dinosaur Valley has some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the world and are the longest existing dinosaur trackway in North America. However, the tracks are on the riverbed, under the Paluxy River.
The park is a short drive from Fort Worth and you can camp, picnic, hike, mountain bike, swim and fish while you are there too.
Be sure to check river conditions before visiting if you are hoping to see some tracks.
2. Dinosaur Ridge, Colorado
Best for an enjoyable hike, with both outies and innies
Dinosaur Ridge, near Denver, offers a combination of walking trails and exhibits and with examples of both innies and outies, it is one of the best places in the world to see real dinosaur footprints.
What are outies and innies?
Outies or innies normally refer to belly buttons and how the navel sits in relation to the belly skin. An innie is like a dent in your belly, while an outie will look like a little knot sitting on top of the stomach.
Likewise an innie footprint will be a footprint shaped dent in the rock. An outie will be a low footprint shaped mound in the rock. the fossil formation and rock movement will determine whether a footprint is an outie or innie, though innies are more common.
Take the two-mile-long Dinosaur Ridge Trail, which has around 250 ‘innie’ fossilised dinosaur footprints from three different types of dinosaur and a crocodilian. Stop off to see the bone bed with its rust-coloured bone shapes in the sandstone – this is where the very first Stegosaurus fossils were found.
The Triceratops trail starts a short drive up the road. It winds between vertical walls of sandstone to reclaimed clay pits. It has a number of fossilized footprints (outies – think belly buttons) that you can see, including four-toed Triceratops tracks and a fossilised Tyrannosaur track.
3. Dinosaur State Park, Connecticut
Best for easy, year-round access
Dinosaur State Park south of Hartford in Connecticut. It officially opened in 1968, two years after around 2,000 dinosaur tracks were uncovered during excavation works for a new state building.
Five hundred of the tracks – which experts think were made by a Dilophosaurus – are now enclosed within the Exhibit Center’s geodesic dome, making it one of the best places to see real dinosaur tracks year round. The remaining 1,500 are buried for preservation.
From May to October, visitors can make footprint moulds in a casting area. The two-mile nature trails of the Arboretum with its living relatives of prehistoric plants is also worth checking out.
4. Grand Cache Dinosaur Tracksite, Canada
The one to watch
Originally uncovered by activities at the Smoky River Coal Mine, the Grand Cache Dinosaur Tracksite in Alberta, Canada boasts over a dozen sites in a 25 square kilometer area. This makes it one of the best dinosaur track sites in the world and it has numerous tracks from huge carnivorous dinosaurs in steep sheets of rock.
There are numerous other attractions in the area, including the Royal Tyrrell Museum, where you can see replicas of some of the tracks, and Drumheller Dino Walk. You can also see replicas at the Grande Cache Tourism & Interpretive Centre.
Unfortunately, at present, the access to the site is restricted, although a board is currently working to develop it into a world-class tourist attraction. Watch this space!
5. Parque Cretácico, Cal Orck’o, Bolivia
The best place to see real dinosaur tracks – at least vertically
Near Sucre in Bolivia is perhaps the best place to see real dinosaur tracks in the world. Nearly 68 MYA, a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex, a herd of sauropods, probably titanosaurs, and a few ornithopods and ankylosaurs made their way across a mudflat which is now a 110-metre high and 1,200 long vertical wall. This former clay is now Cal-Orck’o and boasts more than 5,000 tracks representing 15 different species and more than 450 individual dinosaurs.
Parque Cretácioco, the Cretaceous Park, was developed in conjunction with Swiss Paleontologists and opened in 2006. In addition to the dinosaur tracks, which are of course the highlight, the park has numerous unique replicas of dinosaurs that have been found in or are known to have lived in the area.
The park is open Tuesday to Sunday and offers walking tours and a dinobus.
Honorable mention: Moab, USA
Moab is part of the Dinosaur Diamond in Utah, USA. With the sheer number of amazing sites to see elsewhere in the diamond, it is no wonder that the dinosaur tracks and footprints around Moab don’t seem as impressive. However, if you are planning to see some of the other dinosaur sites in the diamond (e.g. Dinosaur National Monument, Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry), take a trip to Moab and especially to Mill Canyon and Copper Ridge.
If you are looking for something ‘non-dinosaur’ to do in the area, visit Arches National Park, so called because it has the largest concentration of sandstone arches in the world.
The best places to see real dinosaur tracks in Europe
Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the oldest dinosaur tracks have been found in Europe. It was also where dinosaur footprints were discovered for the very first time.
6. Isle of Skye, Scotland
For self-guided beach strolls – at low tide
The Isle of Skye is known as “Dinosaur Isle” for its Megalosaurus, Cetiosaurus and Stegosaurus and its collection of Sauropod footprints. While much of Skye is basalt rock, there are three sites that together make the Isle of Skye one of the best places to see real dinosaur tracks.
- An Corran beach, Staffin: These footprints are some of the oldest you are likely to see. More than 165 MYA, a family of herbivorous ornithopod dinosaurs walked across the sand which has since become a bed of sandstone on the beach. The sea covers the prints at high tide and in summer they are often covered in sand, so check the tides before going. Access is via a ramp.
- Score Bay, Duntulm: In early 2015, sauropod dinosaur footprints were discovered on the shore near Duntulm Castle. The prints are the largest trackway in Scotland and are the best of their kind in the world (clarity of the prints). They also date from around 170 MYA and are only visible at low tide.
- Rubha nam Braithrean (Brothers’ Point): In early 2018, researchers from Edinburgh University found and catalogued another 50 herbivorous sauropod and carnivorous theropod footprints on the beach at Rubha nam Braithrean, including possible Stegosaurus prints. As the find is quite new, the site is not as easy to access, but there is a path for most of the way.
Please note: Collecting or damaging fossils or prints at any of these sites can result in fines of up to GBP 40,000.
7. La Rioja, Spain
The first dinosaur tracks ever discovered
Near the small town of Enciso in the south of the La Rioja province lies the Cidacos Valley where around 1,400 dinosaur tracks have been found and recorded. These finds are split between seven sites between Enciso and Navalsaz, which can be reached via a new paved road or a cross-country trail.
- Virgen del Campo: This site has 506 dinosaur tracks, as well as skin marks, tail drag marks and scratches made by swimming dinosaurs. Some of the tracks even show the start of a fight between a carnivorous dinosaur and a plant-eating dinosaur. The site has a wooden boardwalk to protect it from damage and a life-sized reproduction of a herbivorous dinosaur.
- Valdecevillo: This site has more life-sized reproductions of dinosaur that help show visitors what the site might have looked like when the footprints were made. There are theropod tracks, pigeon-toed Tarbosaurus tracks and tracks made by two adults and a baby Iguanodon and 59 tracks left by a sauropod (Brachiosaurus).
- Villar-Poyales site: And this is what makes La Rioja one of the best places to see real dinosaur tracks: this is where the very first dinosaur tracks were discovered.
The sites are free to enter, but you can also hire a specialist guide to show you the highlights. We also suggest a visit to the Palaeontology Centre, which is located in an old shoe factory in Enciso.
RAWR Tip: Don’t miss the dinosaur clock in the town square!
8. Serra d’Aire Dinosaur Traceway, Portugal
The oldest sauropod tracks
Approximately 90 km north of Lisbon is the dinosaur tracksite of Serra d’Aire. Aged at 175 MYA, the site claims to have the oldest and longest sauropod tracksite in the world (the oldest theropod tracks are in China). About 115km from Lisbon, entry only costs a few euro.
Around 20 trackways can be discerned from hundreds of dinosaur tracks. The most significant in the 147m trackway that is excellently preserved and quite astounding to see. From the footprints, some of the dinosaurs have been estimated to be around 30m long.
The park can be a little difficult to find and is often overlooked, but the the trip is worth it. Take a hat – there is no shade! Please also be prepared to leave any strollers up the top and to carry/piggy-back/coerce small children back up the hill afterwards.
Dinosaur fans can find the Dino Park Lourinhã and its 180 life-sized dinosaurs about 85 km away. You could easily do both in a day trip from Lisbon.
9. Dinoplagne, Plagne, France
The longest trail
Perhaps the most impressive dinosaur trails in Europe were found in 2009 in Plagne, France, between Lyon and Geneva (CH).
The park boasts the longest trail of dinosaur footprints in the world, only narrowly eclipsing the Portuguese find. The trail was made by a sauropod that was at least 35 meters long and weighed at least 35 tonnes and lived 145 MYA. The 155 footprints cover a distance of 155 metres and have a length of up to three meters (including the muddy ring that was displaced by his giant foot). The dinosaur has since been identified as Brontopodus plagenensis, which translates as Thunderfoot from Plagne.
Tracks from other dinosaurs have been found too, though these are still being investigated.
Dinoplange is currently closed for trace protection work and is due to reopen in April 2021.
10. Dinopark Münchehagen, Germany
The fun footprints
In 1980, a training exercise for local fire fighters uncovered the dinosaur tracks. Now, more than 300 individual footprints from three different dinosaur species have been uncovered and can be seen at the Dinopark in Münchehagen, together with
For more information about the park, check out our detailed review.
You can also take a tour to the nearby quarry where even more footprints from the Cretaceous period have been found.
Honorable mention – Keates Quarry, UK
Located not far from the World Heritage-listed Jurassic Coast in the south-west of England, Keates Quarry contains more than 100 fossilised dinosaur tracks from around 145 MYA. Experts think they were most likely made by brachiosaurs.
The Jurassic Coast Trust also offers guided tours that are suitable for almost all abilities.
While you are there, check out some of the other sites on the Jurassic Coast, such as Lyme Regis, where Mary Anning was born and found the fossilised skull of an ichthyosaur in 1811, one of the first fossils ever described by scientists.
The best places to see real dinosaur tracks in the Asia-Pacific region
China in particular has been a hotbed of dinosaur discoveries over the last decade. It is therefore unsurprising that some of the best places to see real dinosaur tracks are in the Asia-Pacific region.
11. Dampier Peninsula, Australia
Until recently, the Dampier Peninsula dinosaur tracks were really only known from a “song cycle” of the local Aborigines. In a successful bid to prevent the development of a natural gas precinct at James Price Point, the Goolarabooloo people shared their knowledge of the tracks with scientists and there are currently efforts to digitally catalogue the tracks using drones and remote sensing.
Tens of thousands of dinosaur tracks made by around 20 different species around 130 MYA are fossilised in the sandstone along a 100km stretch of coast. They are at least 15 to 20 million years older than any fossils found so far in Australia.
The tracks also include large cylindrical depressions stamped into the earth by at least five types of long-necked-long-tailed sauropod. Not only are these the only sauropod tracks in Australia, but they are the biggest in the world, with some measuring as large as 1.7 meters in length.
The tracks are found along coastal rock shelves and reefs, which are subject to some of the most extreme tides in Australia, with water levels rising 10 to 11m daily. Many are only exposed for a few hours each day, and only a few days each year.
To visit the Dinosaur Coast, download the Track Guide App, grab the brochure and visit the museum then go track hunting!
12. Lark Quarry, Australia
The most concentrated stampede
Also in Australia is perhaps one of the best dinosaur trackway sites in the world because of its concentration of tracks – over 3,000 individual footprints on a surface the size of a tennis court.
Lark Quarry, 110 km southwest of Winton (where the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum is located), the shows a stampede of dinosaurs escaping a predator – the only known stampede tracks found. Four different types of dinosaurs are identified: small and medium-sized herbivorous ornithopods, small omnivorous coelurosaurs, a large ornithopod and a large carnivorous theropod whose footprints are nearly 60cm long.
Dinosaur Stampede National Monument runs tours run three times a day.
Please note: there is no petrol available in the area so please fill up before leaving Winton.
13. Zhucheng City, China
A dinosaur dance party
Dinosaur footprints are perhaps the least interesting thing to see at China’s ‘Dinosaur City’, Zucheng City. Still, this is one of the best places in the world to see real dinosaur tracks.
The incredible Dinosaur Geo-Park just south of Zhucheng City has the world’s largest collection of dinosaur bones, skeletons and footprints. Nearly a decade old four museums showcase some of what has been found at the site:
- Cretaceous Dinosaur Geopark
- Zhucheng Dinosaur Museum
- Dinosaur Egg Museum and the
- Huanglong Valley Dinosaur Footprint Museum.
More than 11,000 footprints have been found from at least ten types of dinosaur from the late cretaceous period in an exposed area of over 5,000 square metres. The area is known as “dinosaur dance world.”
Information in English is limited. If you would like to see the site, visit the Zhucheng Dinosaur Museum and ask for directions to the Huanglong Valley Dinosaur Footprint Museum.
Dinosaur footprints have been found at around 100 sites in China, some as recently as last year. The best are still being studied by palaeontologists. In addition to Zhucheng, the footprints at Qijiang Laoying Mountain in Chongqing are of note.
14. Cretaceous Dinosaur Coast, South Korea
For stunning scenery
Goseong Dinosaur Museum, Korea’s first dinosaur museum is located next to one of the world’s largest dinosaur track sites on southern South Korean coast, with 4,000 dinosaur footprints and over 420 different tracks. Several fossilised eggs have also been found on the coast at nearby Boseong.
A park winds its way from the down the coast museum to the footprints. Life-sized dinosaur statues, playgrounds, picnic areas and a maze can be found along the route and the scenery is supposedly stunning.
The route is however a little steep. If you are visiting with small children or those who might find the slope difficult, drive the short distance from the museum down to the beach to see the footprints.
Honorable mention – Phu Faek Forest Park, Thailand
Thailand is not know for extensive dinosaur finds. While there have only been a few fossils found there, it has some of the best preserved dinosaur footprints in the world in Phu Faek Forest Park. Unfortunately, only 21 tracks have been found – all made by carnivorous theropods 140 MYA – and only 4 of these can be accessed easily at present.
What you need to make the most of your visit
Make the most of your visit! Remember to take these things with you:
A camera – Take photos to remember the trip for years to come.
Tape measure – See how big those ichnites actually are!
Refillable water bottle – For those long hikes and days spent investigating.
The 14 best places to see real dinosaur footprints – which one will you visit?
While perhaps not as impressive as dinosaur fossils, standing in a real ichnite can help you imagine what it was like when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. If you are going to see some, make sure it is at one of the best places to see real dinosaur tracks to ensure that you can get the most from the experience.