Vacation on a Budget : Dinosoar Valley Texas State Park
We recently camped overnight at Dinosaur Valley Texas State Park in Glen Rose, Texas and the kids are already asking to go back! This Texas State Park is a National Natural Landmark for a large number of dinosaur tracks that can be seen in the park. The State Park also features huge fiberglass replicas of an Apatosaurus and Tyrannosaurus that were featured at the 1964-65 New York World Fair. This park is full of cool clear blue water, beautiful scenery, hiking trails, Dinosaur footprints and tons of history!
We arrived at the park late and after dark which seems to be a pattern with us when we go camping. Work schedules and kid schedules have consistently put us on the road late in the afternoon and therefore, setting up camp after dark on most trips and we have become quite good at it! The park ranger at the gate was very friendly and full of personality which seems to be the case for most park rangers we check in with after dark. They are always so nice, conversational and happy to offer the best tips and advice. We drove around the park in the dark to scope out potential campsites and decided on one within walking distance to the bathroom and the playground. Priorities. We settled into our site and after the tents were all set up and beds were made we headed nearby to the bathrooms to shower and get ready for bed. First thing in the morning the kids were asking to play on the playground and it was a great option for them while the rest of us got breakfast started.
One way we save money while traveling is packing all of our own food. It's very important to me not to sacrifice quality while on the road. Organic and sustainable food is important to me when we are home and this does not change just because we are on vacation. When we shop at Costco we are able to shop in bulk to feed our family size but I am also very pleased with the selection of high quality of food. We pack plenty of organic fruit, organic and sustainably raised meats, healthy snacks, we bring our own eggs and I bake all of our bread items ahead of time. Every once and a while we will run out of something or forget an ingredient or two and will have to run to the closest grocery store to the campsite. We make a point to take note and over time we have gradually improved our list making and packing skills. We are sure to pack for and cover all culinary needs (spices, utensils, tools, menu planning) in addition to comfort items (blankets, pillows, mattresses, sunscreen, bug spray, ect.), enough gallons of water to keep us all hydrated and re-useable water bottles, adequate swimming equipment, and recreational items to keep kids entertained around the campsite since there are NO electronic devices to be found (gasp!).
Once breakfast was cooked and consumed we were ready to check out the water! I was really surprised by the clarity of the water this time of year and the deeper river pools were full of cool water during the 100 degree days. We found an awesome sand beach near 'The Blue Hole" site and parked ourselves there for the day. We carried in all the food we would need for the day and picnicked there. I also had the boys build me a makeshift teepee on the beach with tree limbs and serapes and I napped the toddlers right on the edge of the water. There was a good combination of shallow water to splash in, deep water to snorkel in, large rock to jump off of and plenty of rivers up and down to explore. We absolutely loved this swimming hole and spent the majority of our two days here.
It was pretty hot both days so we rarely left the water. We did some trail exploring in the early morning and briefly visited several other sites and swimming holes. Each site is marked with a directory explaining the history of the site and any important information or particular places to search for dinosaur tracks in the specific area. Each one is very interesting with a backstory on what the placement of the Dino tracks mean and what the dinosaurs were probably doing at that time. The part I really love is just outside the gates of the State Park is the Creation Evidence Museum of Texas where you can see a lot of scientific evidence supporting Creation including human footprints in the same sedimentary rock as the dinosaur prints. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area!
Most Texas State Parks offer a fishing and tackle loaner program which we always take advantage of. In addition to so many other programs! Each State Park will have it's own unique list of activities to participate in, including Junior Ranger Programs, so I recommend checking the website ahead of time for offerings and times. This park usually has a guided group hike and a spear throwing class on Saturday mornings. Dinosaur Valley State Park offers a variety of campsites including regular campsites with electricity and water and remote backpack in campsites for the rugged crowd. If you download the Dinosaur Valley State Park app on your smartphone you can map Dinosaur tracks by GPS or go Geocaching around the park for hidden items! There is so much more to Texas State Parks than what meets the eye, so go and explore!
Check this link for more great travel info! https://www.alltherooms.com/blog/5-best-resorts-in-texas/