Garden Park

Garden Park dinosaur dig in Colorado
Garden Park was one of the preeminent spots for early dinosaur finds, starting in 1877, with numerous major discoveries. | Photo by Jessica Feis / flickr.com

Staff

Garden Park, six miles north of Cañon City, was one of the world’s most productive spots for dinosaur discoveries starting in 1877. Bones excavated there led scientists to describe and name such key species as the Allosaurus, Diplodocus, Camarasaurus, Ceratosaurus, Haplocanthosaurus and Epanterias.

The Allosaurus, a meat-eating predator from the late Jurassic period, was named by famed paleontologist Othniel Marsh in 1878, based in part on bones from Garden Park. The Marsh Quarry at Garden Park also produced the first bones for the gigantic, plant-eating Diplodocus and the meat-eating Epanterias, which Marsh named in 1877, and the predator Ceratosaurus, which he named in 1884.

Another huge plant-eating dinosaur, the Camarasaurus, was named by paleontologist Edward Cope in 1877 based on bones found in another part of Garden Park.

The plant-eating Haplocanthosaurus was first discovered in Garden Park by paleontologists J.B. Hatcher and W. Utterback from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in 1901 and was named by Hatcher in 1903. A larger version of the dinosaur was recovered from the Cleveland Quarry at Garden Park by Yale University zoology student Edwin Delfs and three Cleveland high school students between 1955 and 1957 and is on display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

While the Stegosaurus was named based on bones found near Morrison in 1877, Stegosaurus bones also were found in Garden Park that year, and they led to the naming of the Stegosaurus stenops, which became the most popular variety of the dinosaur because of the recovery of nearly complete skeletons. Stegosaurus skeletons from Garden Park are displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Dinosaur tracks and fossils of dinosaur eggs also have been found at Garden Park.

The Garden Park Fossil Area is administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management, which has posted plaques about the key sights. The area has a 1/4-mile interpretive trail near the Marsh quarry and outdoor exhibits near the Cleveland Quarry.

Details
Garden Park Fossil Area
6 miles north of Cañon City on Fremont County Road 9
(719) 269-8500
Website