The Rabbit Valley Natural Area preserves one of the Grand Junction area’s leading quarries for dinosaur remains. It is 30 miles west of the city on Interstate 70.
The site can be explored through a Trail through Time and is administered by the Museum of Western Colorado and federal Bureau of Land Management. Paleontologists continue to excavate the site.
More than 10,000 individual fossils have been recovered at the quarry since 1981, and explorations by the Museum of Western Colorado continue, with paleontologists periodically onsite as well as visitors working on three- and five-day digs supervised by the museum.
The sandstone outcrop where the quarry is located ran along an ancient river channel during the Jurassic era. Among the fossils on the route are the vertebrae of a juvenile Diplodocus. The site also has wood and leaf fossils deposited in the Burro Canyon Formation during the Cretaceous period.
The 1 1/2-mile loop trail is moderately strenuous and takes 90 minutes to complete, leading hikers through rock formations that hold dinosaur skeletons, skeletal remains of a Camarasaurus and Diplodocus and plant fossils and a “hash” of small dinosaur bones.
Hikes are best in the spring or fall. The summer brings biting gnats and 100-degree highs, and winter brings snow that can hide key sights and make the route slippery. The trail is closed to mountain bikes.