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Poison Spider Dinosaur Tracks, UT

Guide 6 Triplogs  2 Topics
  2.8 of 5 
no permit
64 6 2
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 0.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,002 feet
Elevation Gain 50 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 0.25 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 0.45
Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Ruins
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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7  2021-05-16
Poison Spider
9  2017-10-14 AZWanderingBear
11  2016-05-13 AZLOT69
7  2015-09-09 nonot
18  2013-03-16 PaleoRob
10  2010-01-17 PaleoRob
9  2003-04-15 PaleoRob
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 225
Photos 5,981
Trips 1,093 map ( 2,433 miles )
Age 40 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov → Any
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:18am - 7:31pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

Dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs together!
by PaleoRob

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The area around Moab, Utah, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Rolling expanses of red slickrock cover the place, while the La Sal mountains rise to the east, and the Colorado River cuts down through it all, exposing amazing geology and creating astounding side canyons. Millions of people every year come to visit the area, to backpack, hike, mountain-bike, 4x4, raft, or simply see the sights of one of Nature's greatest displays.

Just downriver from Moab, at the foot of Poison Spider mesa and at the bank of the Colorado River lays a unique opportunity to explore the prehistoric past of the area in one easy hike. The Colorado River, cutting downward through the Jurassic-age Entrada Sandstone as it makes for Cataract Canyon, has exposed evidence of some of the area's earliest visitors.

The Entrada Sandstone was deposited during the early-middle Jurassic Period, and was an environment dominated by large, mobile dune fields. Some of the best preserved of these dune fields lay inside nearby Arches National Park, along the park road. In between these dunes, however, were seasonal lakes and some streams. It was hear, in this ancient desert, that life flourished. Ancient crocodiles prowled the streams, while theropod dinosaurs, like Dilophosaurus wetherilli and Coelophysis kayentakatae visited the water holes to drink or hunt. At the southern edge of Poison Spider Mesa, evidence of some of these visitors still exists.

From the Poison Spider Trail parking area, head east-northeast. There is a large pile of boulders heading upslope towards the cliff face. It is here where the majority of the tracks are located. Some previous tourists have chalked over some of the dinosaur tracks, making them easier to see. Please do not continue this practice, as it degrades the footprints over time.

From the dinosaur footprints, head towards the cliff face. You can see a slab of rock that has separated from the main section of cliff. It is here that many petroglyphs from the Fremont culture can be seen, both behind and next to this slab. Some are truly strange, like a giraffe-goat, and two-headed rams. Others are more typical fare, like bighorns and figures. Spend some time exploring here, before returning to your vehicle. Keep an eye out along the way for more dinosaur tracks.

For more fun, on the way back into Moab, make sure to see the "Indian Writing", a large collection of Fremont petroglyphs along the cliff face. The area is signed, but parking is limited, so be careful. There is also the remains of a dwelling that was destroyed during road construction; all that remains are the beam holes up on the cliff face.

There is no water on either portion of this hike. Although the Colorado River is nearby, it is also immediately downstream from the old Atlas Uranium Mill; think twice about drinking it, even with treatment. A better bet is to fill your bottles back in Moab.

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2008-01-28 PaleoRob
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Moab, Utah, drive north on US191. After crossing the Colorado River, turn left onto Route 279. Follow 279 south until making a sharp right turn. Look for the Poison Spider Trail parking area on the right hand side. Some of the dinosaur tracks are visible from the road, making it easy to spot. If you're still driving when the road heads north, you've gone too far. For the "Indian Writings" petroglyphs, simply look for the signs saying "Indian Writings" alongside 279.
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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