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dinosaur trackway

USFS Preserves World’s Longest Dinosaur Trackway in Colorado with Land Acquisition

OURAY, COLORADO In a landmark move for conservation and public education, the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests have successfully acquired 27 acres in Ouray County, Colorado, containing the world’s largest recorded continuous dinosaur trackway. Announced on April 10, 2024, this acquisition not only preserves the remarkable 134-footprint, 106-yard-long track site known as the West Gold Hill Dinosaur Track but also ensures continued public access to the Silvershield Trail.

The three parcels, previously owned by the Charles Real Estate Trust, hold significant historical and scientific value, featuring tracks made by a long-neck sauropod dinosaur. “This acquisition highlights our dedication to conservation,” said Jim Pitts, Acting Forest Supervisor for the GMUG. “By preserving these ancient imprints, we provide a unique window into the past and a fantastic educational opportunity for visitors.”

Location of the dinosaur trackway above Ouray, Colorado.

Funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), this purchase supports recreational access and protects these invaluable geological and paleontological resources. The Charles family, owners since 1945 and unaware until recently of the trackway’s significance, expressed satisfaction with the sale, noting the assurance that these treasures will be preserved for future generations.

Located at an elevation of 9,300 feet and etched into sandstone layers over 150 million years old, the trackway exhibits a rare 270-degree looping pattern by its creator, adding a peculiar twist to its scientific intrigue. The acquisition ensures that this site will not only remain a protected area but will also be enhanced with interpretive information to educate the public about the region’s natural history.

Visitors can access the trackway by a two-mile hike on the steep and rugged Silvershield Trail, starting from a trailhead near Ouray, Colorado. The trail, suitable for foot and horse travel, offers an immersive experience into both the scenic beauty and the ancient history of the area.

As GMUG plans further developments, including new signage and a dedicated webpage, the hope is to inspire a deeper appreciation and stewardship for these natural phenomena, securing their preservation for many years to come. As outdoor enthusiasts flock to this newly accessible site, they are reminded to prepare for the demanding conditions typical of high-altitude trails and to respect the surrounding private properties.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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