On day four (June 25th) of our family vacation to Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, we drove to the Grand Staircase Escalante region. With the help of the park rangers at the Kanab Visitors Center, we picked Dinosaur Tracks as our first hike of the day. From our Airbnb in Washington, Utah, Dinosaur Tracks was only a 78-mile drive, a short distance considering the vastness of the Southern Utah desert.
Finding Dinosaur Tracks
The trailhead for Dinosaur Tracks is easy to find just three miles north of Kanab on US Highway 89 between mile markers 67 and 68. There’s ample parking beyond the Port of Entry near a porta potty that’s designated just for hikers.
Hiking to the Mesa
Described as steep and rocky on the Kanab Magically Unspoiled Adventure Map given to us by the park ranger, we were relieved to see a three-year-old little boy heading toward us as we started our hike – if he could do it, we could do it!
The 1-mile roundtrip hike starts at the parking lot and follows a narrow dirt trail through sage brush until it merges with a dirt road. I led the way using my extended GoPro (affiliate link) as a stick to scare off any rattlesnakes that might be hanging out in the tall brush.
Once we got to the dirt road, we made a wrong turn, walking west on the dirt road rather than east (how could I tell east from west, the sun was directly overhead). As you can tell from my Garmin (affiliate link) map below, we eventually backtracked and found the correct trail.
The 5,700 elevation listed on the guide didn’t match up with my Garmin.
Once we exited the dirt road, we gradually started to ascend as we made our way around the front of the mesa. The last several hundred feet to the top were very steep with lots of loose rocks and I practically had to crawl on all fours to to keep from falling backwards. I have to admit that in the back of my mind I was wondering how the heck I’d get back down.
Safely on top of the mesa, we were treated to beautiful views of the surrounding area.
Finding the Tracks
Standing on top of the mesa, we were so in awe of the views that we almost forgot to look for the well-preserved dinosaur footprints.
Previous hikers had built cairns next to the tracks to make them easier to find.
Enjoying the Views
In addition to looking for dinosaur tracks, we took the time to enjoy the view before making our way back down from the mesa.
Looking northeast from the mesa…
Making Our Way Back Down
I wish I’d taken out my GoPro for the initial descent off the mesa, but I was more concerned about making it down without rolling so I kept all of my devices safely tucked away. I did pull out my phone to take this picture of Bill after we’d gotten to less steep terrain.
Back on the flat sage brush section of the trail, Jess took over with the GoPro. The top of the mesa can be seen behind them.
Just Who Was the Dinosaur Making Those Tracks?
Later in the day while in the Lake Powell visitor’s center, we saw this sign next to a cast of a dinosaur track that looked just like the ones we’d seen in the rocks on our hike to Dinosaur Tracks. It was fun to see what the bipedal three-toed dinosaur who made the tracks might have looked like.
And About that Little Boy…
The following day at Bryce Canyon, we saw the family with the little boy who we saw on the sage brush covered trail making his way back to the parking lot from the top of the mesa. His mom told us that it had been a mistake to take him up there, and they had to do some maneuvering to get him up that steep slippery section at the end, but they’d done it, and safely. Somehow learning that a three-year-old hadn’t just scrambled up on his own made me feel a little better about myself. 😉
Final Thoughts on Dinosaur Tracks
Dinosaur Tracks was a fun, relatively easy hike. We spent almost an hour from the time we left our car until we returned to the parking lot. I’d definitely recommend adding it to your list of places to visit if you’re planning a trip to Kanab, Utah.
- Have you visited Southern Utah?
- What dinosaur or another animal’s fossils have you seen?
- Do you have any interesting stories to share about encounters with scree?
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Happy Running! ~ Deb