Riggs Hill

Staff

Riggs Hill was the site of the 1900 discovery of the first bones of a Brachiosaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur that for decades was thought to be the largest of the giant reptiles.

The Brachiosaurus was described and named by paleontologist Elmer S. Riggs of Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History in 1903 based on a partial skeleton he recovered from Riggs Hill in 1900. The hill, located on the Redlands area six miles west of Grand Junction, was named for him in 1938.

Riggs brought a scientific expedition to the Grand Junction area after Stanton Bradbury, a Grand Junction dentist and amateur collector, reported that residents had been uncovering dinosaur bones in the shale and sandstone formations near the city since 1885.

H.W. Menke, a Riggs field assistant, discovered the partial skeleton on Riggs Hill on July 4, 1900.

The Brachiosaurus was the largest dinosaur on record until the 1972 discovery of the Supersaurus near Delta. The Brachiosaurus stood on four strong legs and had a long neck and trunk but a relatively short tail that led Riggs and others to liken it to a giraffe. The Brachiosaurus is believed to have been 85 feet long and to have weighed 30 to 40 tons.

In 1937, local journalist Al Look and college instructor Edwin Holt reported finding nearly complete skeletons of an Allosaurus and a Stegosaurus on the west end of Riggs Hill and additional bones from a Brachiosaurus nearby. However, vandals and souvenir hunters removed most of the Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. The Brachiosaurus bones may have remained undisturbed.

Riggs Hill is no longer being explored for dinosaurs. The property is owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management, which shares management of it with the Museum of Western Colorado.

Today, an interpretive trail starts at the intersection of South Broadway and Meadows Way and loops around the base of the hill. The hike is .8 miles and is rated easy, and it’s possible to climb to the top of the hill for a two-mile round-trip.

The hike passes the sites of the two dinosaur excavations and a cast that resembles dinosaur vertebrae at the site where Riggs made his discovery.

Details
Riggs Hill
South Broadway and Meadows Way
Redlands, CO 81507
Trail