As travelers are itching to get outside and explore, Utah has announced it will create two new state parks for visitors to enjoy. And to make it even more exciting, one of them will be named after a 100 million-year-old dinosaur.
Yes, Utahraptor State Park was approved by state legislators on March 11 and will be located near Moab and Arches National Park. This area was chosen because it was the site where 100 million-year-old bones were found in the '70s and '90s. At the time, the dinosaur was unknown but has since been dubbed the Utahraptor with standout features like feathers. Incredibly, the 20-foot-long carnivore with claws weighed over 600 pounds when it was alive, making it even more of an incredible discovery.
Today, the Utahraptor is the state's official dinosaur, making it a fitting name for a new state park. And the goal is that the state park recognition will prevent fossils from being stolen. Plus, the area has other historical importance, as it was once a concentration camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.
"[This land is] valuable because of the paleontology, the history, and the recreation," said Grand County commission chair Mary McGann in a Senate committee meeting about the bill. "It is now being abused, terribly abused. It's not only ugly—it's also unhealthy."
What will be available to visitors at the 6,500-acre park is to expect 150 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails. Some campgrounds are in the area, but no restrooms or trash cans are available. That will hopefully change over time as funds become available with the new designation.
Nearby attractions along the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway include the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum, Dinosaur National Monument, and several dinosaur quarries.
The other new state park will be Lost Creek State Park, known for fishing, water sports, and boating.