Four Reasons Families Love the Wyoming Dinosaur Center
More than 58 mounted dinosaur skeletons, hundreds of displays and dioramas highlighting the prehistoric past, and an impressive roster of hands-on educational programs — including opportunities to participate in real fossil digs — are just a few reasons why the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis is one of Wyoming’s most-beloved family attractions. The expansive complex’s dig sites, museum and complete fossil-prep lab offer a glimpse into fascinating periods in history when larger-than-life creatures roamed the earth.
1. The museum has one of the largest and most-unique fossil collections in the world.
The Wyoming Dinosaur Center is on the southern border of the Bighorn Basin, home to some of the richest fossil-bearing strata in the western United States. The organization’s field technicians have found and identified more than 130 dig sites in the area, known as Warm Springs Ranch, and the museum houses a wide array of notable specimens.
Stroll the Hall of Dinosaurs to meet a colossal 106-foot-long Supersaurus named Jimbo, lauded to be one of the largest dinosaurs ever mounted, and Stan, a 35-foot Tyrannosaurus rex that’s displayed charging a Triceratops. You’ll also see a rare Archaeopteryx, a winged beast known as the missing link between birds and dinos and one of the most complete and best-preserved specimens of its kind in the world.
2. You can go on real digs.
For a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, sign up for the Dig for a Day program, where aspiring paleontologists of all ages can help fossil hunters excavate real specimens. Wyoming Dinosaur Center staff and visitors have uncovered more than 10,000 bones from dig sites in the area — many of which have been identified as long-necked Sauropods. Uncover leg and tail bones, ribs, claws or even complete skeletons, and learn how to preserve and document your discovery. While it’s not guaranteed that you’ll find a fossil, and even if you don’t, your work will help scientists learn more about Wyoming’s prehistoric past.
Digs take place late May through mid-September (weather permitting) and a sack lunch, transportation and all tools are provided. Additionally, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center hosts a Kids’ Dig program on select dates throughout the summer for youngsters ages 8–12. Excursions include a museum and prep-lab tour, the chance for kiddos to mold and cast their own fossils, along with lunch and an interpretive geologic tour of Thermopolis’ Hot Springs State Park.
3. There are exhibits for all ages.
Trace the complex origins of life on earth, from the single-celled protozoa and the rise of arthropods (invertebrates with exoskeletons like insects and crustaceans) to the dawn of the dinosaurs, on the Walk Thru Time exhibit and browse the extensive collection of fossilized marine reptiles and displays of pre-Mesozoic fossils, including numerous fish and invertebrates. Kids and adults will get a kick out of exploring collections that showcase animals from more recent times, such as camels, horses and rodents, and feeling dwarfed next to massive dinosaur skeletons posed in various scenes.
Featuring more than 10 stations, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center also has one of the finest fossil-preparatory labs in the West. Massive amounts of dinosaur bones from surrounding quarries and beyond are processed in the lab each year. Stop by to see technicians clean, repair and preserve the fossils.
4. It’s easy to stay in Thermopolis to make a weekend out of your trip.
From soaking in natural mineral springs and spotting the resident buffalo herd at Hot Springs State Park to admiring the unique geology of the Rainbow Terraces from a swinging bridge above the Bighorn River, there’s plenty of things to do in Thermopolis. Plus, the north-central Wyoming town has an abundance of family-friendly lodging options — so a road trip to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center is both easy and affordable.