If you’re looking for things to do in Flagstaff, consider taking a day to head north out of town to Tuba, City. We were in the area, traveling with kids on vacation in Arizona, and heard that in that area we would find one of the best sites to view dinosaur footprints in Arizona. We followed handmade signs to what were, frankly, rather shady looking lean-to stands. We took a chance, met fascinating people, and had an incredible time. We found ourselves at the site of an ancient sea that is now a gorgeous valley of Moenkopi Formation sandstone covered with imprints of life from the time of the dinosaurs.
About 80 miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona, off Highway 160, near Tuba City.
- Walk through field of prints – guides are available.
- Jewelry and souvenirs for sale.
What We Liked:
- The scenery is phenomenal. The Moenkopi sandstone cliffs in the near distance are layered with rich shades of orange and red as is the ground beneath your feet.
- Our guide was a member of the Navajo tribe. It was her own grandparents who had discovered the tracks while herding sheep across the land. I certainly can’t guarantee that you will have the same guide, but if you are lucky enough to, you will find that it deepens your appreciation for the place you are in and its people.
- The tracks are incredible. You can clearly see toes and claws, skid marks where velociraptors leapt and landed, complete tortoise eggs, and whole leaves of plants. I have since read that the tour guides do not necessarily have all of the identification information exactly right. But enjoy it for what it is. Maybe even bring your own guides to dinosaur prints to use for comparison and study.
- This is not a handful of prints in a small space, but rather a whole field of them that you could spend hours exploring. It is one of the largest sites of its kind in the country.
- There is no pathway and no rules. The kids can run and jump, put their hands and feet on the prints, and crawl around on their knees along this ancient shore. It’s the ultimate interactive display. They might as well be the paleontologists themselves. This site is a wonderful, unique opportunity to get kids excited about science.
- You will find reviews that say the people are pushy, swindling , and not knowledgeable about the site. This was not our experience. The woman who approached us when we got out of the car certainly implied that it was customary to take them up on their offer to guide you through the tracks. But she also mentioned that we could walk around alone if we wanted and there were visitors doing so. She was welcoming, polite, and, honestly, I don’t know why anyone would expect to walk up to private land and wander around without escort.
- The jewelry they strongly encourage you to look at is actually pretty nice and very inexpensive. Don’t buy “Indian Jewelry” at the gas stations or even in shops in towns and cities – wait until you’re on the reservation and buy it from the artists themselves. It is literally a third or less of the cost of buying Native American jewelry elsewhere.
What We Didn’t Like
- From what we could tell, there are no facilities. I recommend going a bit further into Tuba City to use the restrooms and stock up on food and water, and then backtrack to the site.
- It might have been nice to have a brochure or booklet of some kind with pictures of what was what. Perhaps hiring a paleontologist or student to draw one up would benefit not only the tourists, but also provide the guides accurate information to reference. They could sell them, even… I should find a way to pass on that idea!