Last weekend we were trying to think of something to do with our son, and since it’s the middle of the summer and it’s pretty hot around here right now, we were trying to think of some indoor and higher elevation things we could do. Since my son has really started to get interested in dinosaurs lately, we decided to spend a half day in Blanding and take him to The Dinosaur Museum & the pool, then drive back to Monticello over the mountain via Johnson Creek/North Creek if we still felt up for it by the end of the day.
We arrived at the Dinosaur Museum at about 11:00 just as a couple other groups were getting out of their cars in the parking lot. I was glad to see that although it’s a fairly small museum, it looks like they keep pretty busy!
I want to mention here that this museum is obviously smaller than say, the Natural History Museum of Utah, but it’s really an amazing museum and actually much bigger than we had expected, especially in a town with a population of only about 4,000! Even more amazing are the admission rates; only $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for seniors, and $2.00 for children ages 4+. They also have special group rates available for tours of 10+, and guided group tours are available with reservations at 435-678-3454. (Prices current as of July 2016.) They also have a AAA discount, so it only ended up costing $6 for the three of us! (My son was free because he still has a month and a half before he turns 4, and they took .50 cents off for each adult since we have AAA!) You absolutely cannot beat those prices!
We walked in and right away I was really impressed with the displays in the museum. The first thing you see when you walk in the door is a petrified wood display against one of the walls with huge tree trunks, which were very impressive. My son seemed to be interested in it until he saw dinosaur skeletons, and then that was all he wanted to look at. I like to move through museums in a way that I’m sure that I’m seeing everything, but my son was zigzagging across the room moving from one display to whichever one caught his attention next. At least he was excited and interested in everything!
One of our favorite displays at the Dinosaur Museum was the cast of a mummified Edmontosaurus. This rare duckbilled dinosaur was found in Wyoming and was discovered intact with large patches of skin on the side, neck, along the backbone, and on both hands. The original fossil is in a museum in Germany and this cast is one of only two on public view worldwide! And it’s located in Blanding, Utah! Amazing!
Our favorite room at the Dinosaur Museum had to be the Special Exhibits Hall which houses several large, feathered dinosaurs and colorful movie posters along with lots of other movie memorabilia. The highlight of our visit was definitely the 14 ft tall Therizinosaurus which dominates the room- I’ve never seen anything like it! When most people think of dinosaurs they probably think of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, or maybe Pterodactyls, but I doubt very many people think of, let alone even know of Therizinosaurus. The Therizinosaurus sculpture on display at the museum is 14 ft tall with a 20 ft wingspan, and from reading the description I’ve learned that they are flightless birds from the Late Cretaceous period and were first found in Mongolia.
The Deinonychus display has examples of both feathered, and featherless versions. The reason for this is that originally they were thought to be scaly dinosaurs, but more recent discoveries in China have revealed that it was actually a flightless bird with feathers.
The number of movie posters and movie memorabilia in the Special Exhibits Hall is really impressive. I think many visitors to the museum are probably surprised to see such a large collection of movie memorabilia in a museum in such a small town in Utah, but if you know anything about the history of the founders of the museum, it makes perfect sense.
The Dinosaur Museum was founded in 1992 by Stephen and Sylvia Czerkas- both renown paleo-artists and authors. Stephen spent his early career sculpting dinosaurs for the Motion Picture Industry, then in 1981 he began sculpting life-size dinosaurs for museums around the country and world-wide. Steven and Sylvia co-directed The Dinosaur Museum from 1992 until Stephen passed away in 2015, and Sylvia continues to operate the museum in memory of her late husband.
After seeing all these movie posters my husband commented that he had no idea that there were so many old dinosaur movies, and now he’s wanting to try to find some for us to watch. It’s definitely not the type of thing I’d normally watch, but after visiting the Dinosaur Museum, I’m kind of intrigued. But I’m only committing to watching one for now… 😉
We probably spent an hour and a half at The Dinosaur Museum which is really saying something since that means that it held the attention of my almost 4 yr-old son for that long! With my son moving so quickly from one display to the next, I didn’t have the chance to read as many of the displays as I would have liked, but I’m sure I’ll get to read everything eventually because I can already tell that we’ll be going back a lot!
Our last stop was the gift shop and they have quite a good selection of dinosaur toys, shirts, quilts, etc. We found a couple inexpensive toys for my son including a dinosaur egg that you get to ‘excavate’ yourself! He had to wait until we got home for that one, but the second we pulled into the driveway, he was ready to see what was inside!
I highly recommend to anyone who is passing through Blanding, that you make a point of stopping there, especially if you have kids! But even for those without kids or who don’t think they’re really into dinosaurs, (like me!) this museum is seriously a hidden gem in Blanding.
As I’m writing this, it’s been 11 days since our first visit, and I say ‘first’ because we’ve already been back again! The first thing my son asks me almost every morning now is, ‘Is the Dinosaur Museum open today?’ and when I say that it is, he asks, ‘Can we go there today?’ He’s been playing ‘Dinosaur Museum’ every single day since our first visit! In the morning he goes out to the living room, turns on the light, and announces that the dinosaur museum is open. He’s made cages out of legos, (I guess some of the dinosaurs are alive?) and also incorporates our cat-climber into his museum (turns out it makes a great place to display your dinosaurs!) I love seeing kids so excited about something new they’ve seen. Experiences are priceless and I feel very fortunate that The Dinosaur Museum is only a 20 minute drive from Monticello!
The Dinosaur Museum is located at: 754 South 200 West, Blanding, UT 84511 They can be reached at: 435-678-3454 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dinosaur Museum is open April 15th- October 15th
Distance from The Dinosaur Museum to lodging in San Juan County, Utah:
- Blanding: 0 miles/0 km
- Monticello: 22 miles/35 km
- Bluff: 26 miles/42 km
- Mexican Hat: 52 miles/ 84 km
- La Sal: 65 miles/105 km
- Monument Valley: 73 miles/117 km
For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386
Or e-mail us at: email@example.com
The Dinosaur Museum has generously donated 2 family passes for us to give away to our blog & social media followers. (Each pass allows free entry for 2 adults & 2 children)
1 pass will be given away on this blog and 1 pass will be given away on Instagram, so be sure to enter both!
To enter just leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite dinosaur or dinosaur movie.
Winners will be announced on Monday, August 1st, 2016