Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: .5 mile
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4506 - 4567 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Usage: Hiking - Dogs
Time: 1 hr.
Facilities: none
Trailhead: Fee: none
 

View Mill Canyon/Dinotrac in a larger map

The Dinosaur Trail at Mill Canyon is a self guided outdoor paleontological museum that provides the opportunity to view dinosaur bones and fossils in situ. Mill Canyon received its name from a copper mill that once operated at the site which some of the remains of can still be seen. Located approximately 13 miles north of Moab, Utah just off of US Highway 191, at about mile marker 141, you can access the trailhead by driving 1.7 miles on a dirt road. The road is accessible with a passenger car but careful consideration should be given to existing conditions. Besides the Dinosaur Trail you can also visit the remains of the Halfway Stage Station a short distance away.


There are several, well done, kiosks in the parking area that provide valuable information and incite as a precursor to this short hike.


The trail begins from the west side of the parking area by dropping into the shallow wash to gain access to the rocky ridge on the other side where the exhibits of dinosaur bones are exposed in the cliff.


There are about 16 stations along the trail that explain each exhibit. Most of these give information about the dinosaur bones but useful information on the geology, environment, and history are also included.


Not all of the fossils and bones are pointed out by the kiosks at each station. Several of the boulders, and other areas of the cliff, also contain fragments. These provide an excellent opportunity for you to develop and use your own skills at spotting dinosaur remains. Besides my own idle curiosity my chief objective for visiting these sites is to develop my own ability to spot and point out dinosaur bones while I am hiking. For me it adds another element of adventure and exploration to each outing.


The above picture is of a petrified tree that is exposed in the cliff. Petrified rocks are not that uncommon in our region, especially around the San Rafael Swell. At times you may see them in cliffs with a gap around them where the softer rock has eroded away.


The trail itself should be easy to manage for just about anyone. The loose dirt in the wash would probably present a problem for a stroller but the rest of the trail is well packed.


There is a very nice view of Desperation Towers in Mill Canyon. They may tempt you to venture a little further than the Dinosaur Trail.


The remains of the old copper mill weren't all that fascinating but it was interesting just to know that they once had milled copper here.


We didn't actually drive all the way over from Grand Junction just to see the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail but it was a planned stop for the day. We had begun at a petroglyph site just north of Dewey Bridge, along US Highway 128, and then stopped for a really great hike at Negro Bill Canyon where we hiked up to Morning Glory Bridge arch. After stopping in Moab for refreshments we made another stop here, at Mill Canyon, on our way home. So if you too find yourself in the area with about an hour to spare you can also pull off and 'Take a hike' so you can see it for yourself..