As promised, I am excited to tell you about a unique museum just outside of Moab, UT that opened in the Fall of 2015. Moab Giants came from the idea of scientists and paleontologists studying the dinosaur tracks littering the canyons of Moab and they wanted to find a new and exciting way to share the science of track fossils in a fun and approachable way. After visiting, I would have to say they did an amazing job. Right off Highway 191 at the turn off for Canyonlands is a large building with a dinosaur sculpture hanging out in the corner of the parking lot by their sign. As you drive by, there are more sculptures scattered behind the building in a large open area. This brief glance was what first drew my boyfriend’s attention the first time he visited Moab.
Since then, he has been back a handful of times, always asking if friends wanted to stop by, yet the goals of the trips were to go climbing so they never did. Since I’m not as avid a climber as his other friends, I was just as interested in making a detour on my first time to the area. I wanted to see and do as much as possible over the New Years weekend. Due to the off season timing, there were museum wide discounts with prices ranging from 25-50% off on admission tickets to food in the café to souvenirs in the gift shop. They do have senior, military and Moab locals discounts so even in the summer there’s some options to save a few dollars.
Their winter hours are from 9am to 5pm every day, but they close in January most likely for maintenance and to give staff a nice long vacation. We arrived just a little before 9:30 and found the parking lot empty besides employee cars and stopped in the café for coffee – because coffee makes the world go around- before passing through the front gates. I’m pretty sure only about 5 people were running the place, and a super sweet older gentleman was in charge of the various sections of the park.
We stopped at the Paleo Aquarium building first based off staff recommendation that the first “show” was about to start. It was just the boyfriend and I with the same gentleman mentioned earlier who acted as zookeeper tour guide. The 5D experience mimicked an actual aquarium with deep ocean dinosaurs in “tanks” as our guide gave us information about each enclosure. It was the perfect level of cheesy and a very cool concept, especially the part at the end that startled us at first. Yes, we did get hit by water!
The indoor track museum was really interesting because it talked about how fossils were made with clips about what the tracks found could have said about the activities that created them. Some of the parts had screen you could interact with, but many of them didn’t register our fingers. It was cool to see a map of the places we were planning on visiting that weekend and what has been found fossil wise near there. The 5D Aquarium, track museum, and 3D theatre are all part of the upgraded pass – the basic pass is just for the outdoor areas – but definitely worth the extra few dollars.
If the indoor areas just aren’t in the budget though, the outdoor trail is worth the visit alone. The looped trail is about a half mile long with life size sculpture replicas of a ton of dinosaurs that could have roamed the same area we were walking. The detail of each sculpture is amazing and we really enjoyed the timeline progression and information plaques on each species. There are some “Friendly dino” photo spots where you can stand right next to the figures, most of the time they ask you to stay on the path but you can still get cool photos and the figures are easy to see. There are some “Dig sites” for kids to explore in the dirt along the trail and a playground to crawl over back at main courtyard.
The gift shop, while small, had some really cool items in it and a broad range of t-shirts. There were only a few generic gift shop items and other pieces that were unique. When we went there were maybe two or three other families that were there and we never got in each other’s way. The staff we interacted with were super nice and really welcoming. It was a really great start to the trip. I highly recommend it for the dinosaur fan in your life. My 28 year old boyfriend turned into a 10 year old with how excited he was, and we are still talk about how cool it was.
To explore or learn more, I recommend checking out their website here!