Travel & Field Programs

2023 Travel & Adult Field Trips

Exploring Local Giants

Dates: September 23 & 24
Morrison & Golden, Colorado

Celebrate our 50th anniversary as a National Natural Landmark with local researchers Matthew Mossbrucker and Erin LaCount on this exploration of the local giants of Morrison and Golden! Giants is relative – some of the newer discoveries are actually quite small. This field trip will be across two days with no hotel stay needed! We’ll start at 9am each morning and head out to local fossil areas within the Morrison/Golden Areas National Natural Landmark returning around 3pm each afternoon.

Day one will focus on the Morrison Formation at the Morrison Natural History Museum and the west side of Dinosaur Ridge, the 150 million-year-old Late Jurassic layers of Colorado’s original Jurassic Park. We’ll see specimens from the original Lakes quarries such as YPM 1850, the bones that named Stegosaurus, and YPM 4676, some of the first Apatosaurus bones referenced in Lakes’ first letters from 1876. Also included will be new finds made by the Morrison Natural History Museum through their exploration of Quarry 5 boulders from Dinosaur Ridge road construction. Finds include two new turtles, a lungfish, six different dinosaur track types, and newly described Ceratosaurus and crocodilian!

Day two will focus on the 100 million-year-old Late Cretaceous of Dinosaur Ridge’s east side and then venture into Golden and the latest part of the Cretaceous at Triceratops Trail and the Bob Weimer Mines Geology Trail. We’ll do a deep dive into the Laramie Formation and the evidence of horned dinosaurs, duck-billed dinosaurs, tyrannosaurs, and more!

Join us on this two-day exploration and experience more in your backyard than you’ve ever seen.

Study Leaders: Morrison Natural History Museum’s Director and Chief Curator Matthew Mossbrucker has been researching the Morrison Quarry material in both Morrison and New Haven in the Yale Peabody Museum collections. Erin LaCount has spent the last 3 years researching the local quarries when they were worked from 1876 to 1879. Since 2021, the pair have been working to connect the fossil materials from the letters to the collections at Yale. For the Late Cretaceous layers in Golden, Matthew Mossbrucker will connect fossils from the Laramie Formation to where the Morrison Museum digs in the Lance Formation of central-eastern Wyoming.

Location & Transportation:  The trip will begin at the Morrison Natural History Museum each morning, and then we will load into a 15-passenger van to travel to Dinosaur Ridge sites and Golden sites (Triceratops Trail and the School of Mines Geology Trail).

Physical Exertion Level/Accessibility: This trip is 90% accessible to all levels. We will be using a bus with a wheelchair lift if needed, but the section of Triceratops Trail that we will be accessing is not accessible to wheelchairs but possible with walkers or assistance.

Accommodations: N/A to this trip, though if you are coming into town to join us, we can recommend local hotels that have worked with us before!

Program Fee: $340/attendee (member discount available)

Questions?  Contact trip coordinator Erin LaCount


Tomb of the Coelophysis: Exploring Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

Dates: October 27-30
Abiquiú, New Mexico

Ghost Ranch is a place of magnificent natural beauty featuring table-topped mesas, multicolored canyons and cliffs, plains, grasslands and streams. The Ranch is located on the far eastern end of the Colorado Plateau. Its colorful sedimentary rock formations escaped the infamous uplift of the Laramide Orogeny and subsequent erosion events.

Its rocks span 230 million years of ancient geological history, representing lakes, floodplains, and deserts. Fossils found here illuminate the beginning of the age of the dinosaur in North America and provide a new paradigm of how they took over terrestrial ecosystems for the next 150 million years. Ghost Ranch’s historic fossil quarry is a National Natural Landmark notable for generating one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur fossils including and the world’s only complete Coelophysis, which is also New Mexico’s State fossil.  Ghost Ranch’s archaeological record predates adobe walls and kivas; its hearths and other sites date back 6,000 BCE, or 8,000 years ago.

Study Leaders: Vertebrate paleontologist and geologist Dr. Louis Taylor will be joining us on this trip to help guide our explorations. We will also tap into local experts as we tour the onsite paleontology and anthropology museums, the historical fossil quarry and nearby geological and/or petroglyph sites.

Location & Transportation:  Trip begins at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiú the evening of Friday, Oct 27th. Participants are responsible for their own transportation. (7-hour drive from Denver or 1½ hours from Santa Fe, NM). Enjoy two full days of activities with departure after breakfast on the Monday, Oct 30th.

Physical Exertion Level/Accessibility: While the Ghost Ranch grounds are mostly accessible for those with mobility limitations, the hiking trails are not. This trip will include walking or hiking 1- 3 miles each day on sand/dirt inclined hiking trails at an elevation of 6,400-7,000 feet. There is also a possibility that we may explore off-trail sites. Depending on weather conditions, the walking and hiking surfaces may be rocky, sandy, muddy, or slippery.

Accommodations: All lodging and meals will be at Ghost Ranch. A room block with private baths has been reserved for 3 nights in the Upper Mesa Lodges with splendid views of the area. ADA Accessible rooms may be available for an additional cost outside of our room block. Note: Rooms are rustic with limited amenities. Wifi and cell Note: all rooms are rustic with limited amenities. Wifi and cell phone service is limited to several hotpots. 

Lodging: $175/room/night (group rate for our 3-night event)
Note:  this rate is only available through August 27th. Accommodations after 8/27 are subject to availability. Please email to inquire about availability. 

Full Meal Plan: $112 per person (3 dinners, 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches)

Program Fee: $550 per person ($100 discount with member code). Includes all planned guided activities, lectures, study guide and snacks.  Note: Lodging and meals are reserved and paid for separately through Ghost Ranch after paying your program fee.

Questions?  Contact trip coordinator Barbara Farley



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