Road Scholar : Home
Jurassic Giants: Dinosaur and Fossil Hunting With Your Grandchild

Program Number: 2523RJ
Start and End Dates:
7/27/2014 - 8/2/2014; 7/17/2016 - 7/22/2016; 8/1/2016 - 8/6/2016;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Grand Junction, Colorado
Price starting at: $1,349.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Intergenerational
Meals: 16; 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    

Program intended for grandchildren from 8 - 11 years of age.

Join local experts and paleontologists on the Western Slope of Colorado and experience for yourself the true Jurassic giants of our past. Immerse yourself in geology and ponder the passing eons that left dinosaur bones encased in ancient rock for us to discover in our own time. Participate in a hands-on dinosaur bone dig, visit a world-class museum and curation facility, and spend two special days in Vernal, Utah, where your prehistoric journey culminates in a visit to the world-renowned Dinosaur National Monument and the Utah Field House.


• Explore museums filled with amazing interactive displays of the prehistoric world, including major dinosaur discoveries in Colorado and Utah.
• Journey back in time at the outstanding Dinosaur National Monument and dig for your own fossils in private quarries.
• Trace the actual preserved remains of dinosaur tracks and bones and investigate the “who, what, where, why, when and how” of the prehistoric world with experts.

Activity Particulars

Walk one mile on uneven surfaces at high elevation; activities and hikes require stooping, climbing inclines.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Grand Junction, Colo., 4 nights; coach to Vernal, Utah, 1 night; coach to Grand Junction, Colo., 1 night; departure.

Coordinated by Mountains and Plains Institute.

Grand Junction

Grand Junction lies on the northern bank of the Colorado River and at the midpoint of the 30-mile-long Grand Valley, a major fruit-growing region that in recent years has given rise to a number of family-owned wineries. The picturesque scenery surrounding Grand Junction and the city’s mild seasonal fluctuations make golf a popular local activity.

Comfortable hotels.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Peter McCarville

Peter McCarville is a consulting geologist, geological instructor and educator who has lived in Colorado on the western slope since 1995. He also works as an instructor and program designer for Mountains and Plains Institute (MPILLS), leading hiking and skiing excursions, while making cameo appearances as a geology expert on other programs. He has a wonderful ability to convey complex natural history in layman's terms.
Meals and Lodgings
   Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek
  Denver, CO 2 nights
   Clarion Hotel Downtown Colorado Springs
  Colorado Springs, CO 2 nights
   Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek
  Denver, CO 2 nights
 Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek
Type: Hotel
  Description: The prime location of our hotel makes us the perfect home base for your Denver vacation or business trip. Hotel is located in the upscale Cherry Creek area where you'll find some of the best shopping, dining and entertainment in all of Colorado. We are just a few minutes from downtown Denver and the famously trendy LoDo (lower downtown) area. Parking is free for registered guests and in between stays.
  Contact info: 455 South Colorado Boulevard
Denver, CO 80246 USA
phone: 303-388-5561
  Room amenities: •AM/FM Radio •Alarm Clock •All Guest Rooms Air Conditioned •All News Cable Channel •Cable TV •Coffee Maker •Complimentary Wireless High Speed Internet •Colorado Granite Vanities •Free USA Today Delivered to Room •Hairdryer •Iron / Ironing Board •Modem Connection •Private Bath •Voice Mail •Work Desk With Lamp •Views Of Cherry Creek And The Rocky Mountains
  Facility amenities: Fitness Center, Business Center, Indoor pool, free wireless Internet, restaurant and Lounge, Enterprise Car Rental Desk, 100% smoke free facility
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel for rates Call hotel for rates and reservations
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel for rates Call hotel for rates and reservations
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

 Clarion Hotel Downtown Colorado Springs
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 314 W. Bijou Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80905 USA
phone: 719-471-8680
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Arrive and hotel check-in 3 - 4:00 pm. Required orientation at 5:00 pm. You will be staying at Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast. Check out by 10 AM. You will be staying at Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Adult Acknowledgement of Risk Form Youth Acknowledgement of Risk Form Parental Permission Form Rules and Regulations Signature Form to be mailed to the Mountains and Plains Office Please bring National Parks Senior or Annual Pass
  Parking availability:
No charge during stay; Participants will need to fill out automobile information for front desk
To Start of Program
  Location:  Denver, CO
  Nearest highway: I25 and I70
  Nearest airport:  Denver International Airport (DEN)
  From End of Program
  Location: Denver, CO
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details



From Train Station






Per Person/One Way:


$10+ depending upon traffic
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


25 minutes 




6 miles




From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 800-258-3826
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Call for current rates
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


45 minutes 




22 miles


Reservations required for the airport SuperShuttle. There are also taxis available at the airport. Persons who drive, parking is complimentary.

Driving Directions
  Denver-Interstate 70 East and West Take I-70, exit Colorado Blvd #276B, proceed south on Colorado Blvd for 5 miles and you will see the Holiday inn Select hotel on the right hand side, at 455 South Colorado Boulevard
Elevation Note: 5-14,000 ft. during hikes and walking tours, train ride on Pikes Peak and coach trips.

Equipment Requirements: Refillable water bottle, sunhats, sunscreen, wind breaker-rain jackets, good sturdy walking shoes for both adults and youth
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Check-in, Welcome and Orientation
(Sunday, July 27)

Note: All activities in this daily itinerary are subject to change due to group needs and weather. Major activities listed will occur although the day may change from this itinerary.

 Arrive To: Individuals can check in to the hotel after 3:00 PM. You can go to your rooms and relax or explore the local area. A Welcome orientation and Dinner will be at 5:00 pm, please meet in the hotel lobby. At this meeting, you will receive the daily schedule for the moving program and meet your guides and instructors.
 Dinner: Our dinner tonight is catered in the hotel.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: All day field trip to Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
(Monday, July 28)

Note: Walking and standing, some steps.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in hotel
 Morning: This morning we visit the renowned Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The Museum is one of the nation's best natural history collections with amazing permanent exhibits including our topic area the Prehistoric World. Museum staff have collected specimens for years including the massive and outstanding discovery in 2011 of a huge repository of remains of mammoths, mastodons, giant sloth and other creatures in the mountains of Colorado now preserved in the Museum. Interactive and youth friendly exhibits and activities will make this a visit long remembered!
 Lunch: Picnic box lunch
 Afternoon: Continue field trip to Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We will visit the Prehistoric Journey exhibit. Travel through time-starting 3.5 billion years ago. Your journey begins beneath ancient seas. Life diversifies as you move through the millennia, surrounded by fearsome fish and waving sea lilies. Soon you're out of the water and the air is filled with huge dragonflies. Foot-long centipedes crawl around you. Then the dinosaurs appear!
 Dinner: Dinner will be at the hotel.
 Evening: Free for swimming or relaxation-reflection after a long and active day.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Morrison Natural History Museum, Fossil Ridge Trail
(Tuesday, July 29)

Note: Walking and standing, some steps and hiking 2 miles on paths some uphill terrain.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in hotel
 Morning: This morning we travel to the geologic and dinosaur rich area of Morrison and the local Natural History Museum. We visit the interactive Visitor's Center with exhibits and fossils and recreations. We also see recent excavations where crews continue to excavate and study remains including recent baby dinosaur footprints. The first Colorado discoveries of Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus fossils were made here.
 Lunch: Picnic box lunch
 Afternoon: After lunch, we explore the geology of Morrison Dinosaur Ridge in depth on this series of hikes. Learn about the many different environments, landscapes and how they have changed over the last 300 million years! See the actual amazing tracks of dinosaurs in a trail fossilized in stone. We depart from our hike for the hour trip to Colorado Springs.
 Dinner: We enjoy dinner at a local restaurant
 Evening: Free to enjoy the hotel and relax after a busy day.
Accommodations: Clarion Hotel Downtown Colorado Springs
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Ascend 14,100 feet Pikes Peak by Cog Railway; visit the Garden of the Gods Park
(Wednesday, July 30)

Note: Walking and standing at sites up to 1 mile total for the day

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in hotel
 Morning: After breakfast we travel by coach to Manitou Springs and board the Cog Railway to Pikes Peak Summit. “America’s Mountain” at 14,110 feet elevation. Standing at the summit inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write her famous poem, “America the Beautiful”. Conventional railroads use the friction of wheels upon the rails, called "adhesion", to provide locomotive power. The Pikes Peak Cog, or rack, railroad uses a gear, "cog wheel", meshing into a special rack rail (mounted in the middle between the outer rails) to climb much steeper grades up to 25% than those possible with a standard adhesion railroad.
 Lunch: Picnic box lunch after descending from Pikes Peak
 Afternoon: After our thrilling railway ride up Pikes Peak and lunch, we travel through the Garden of the Gods Park and it's magnificent red sandstone setting. Looking up at Pikes Peak where we have just been. We walk a scenic loop trail of about 1 miles and learn about the geology of this special area..
 Dinner: Tonights meal is on your own to enjoy a choice of restaurants.
 Evening: Swimming, relaxation-reflection
Accommodations: Clarion Hotel Downtown Colorado Springs
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: All day bus and walking tour to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument; dig for fossils at Florissant Quarry .
(Thursday, July 31)

Note: Walking and standing for up to 1 mile at the National Monument. Standing, steps, stooping at the Quarry.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in hotel
 Morning: Today we take a beautiful drive west into the mountains with spectacular scenery along our drive to South Park and the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument where we join a naturalist for a walk through time. Beneath a grassy mountain valley in central Colorado lies one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world. Petrified redwood stumps up to 14 feet wide and thousands of detailed fossils of insects and plants reveal the story of a very different, prehistoric Colorado.
 Lunch: Picnic box lunch
 Afternoon: Continue our field trip by motorcoach to the Florissant Fossil Quarry. We will explore this private preserve and have a hands-on opportunity to locate and dig our own fossils! Florissant Fossils date back from the late Eocene epoch, 35 million years ago. Each volcanic eruption formed a cloud of dust and ash which settled on the lake. As this process took place small animals, fishes, insects, and plants would be trapped under the weight of the ash and sent to watery grave at the bottom of the lake. Each layer of shale represents one eruption. Eventually the lake was filled, climatic changes took place and this is what we see today. We drive back to our Denver Hotel late afternoon.
 Dinner: We dine at the hotel.
 Evening: Free for swimming and preparing for next days activities
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: All day field trip, sites include St. Mary's Glacier, Phoenix Gold Mine in Idaho Springs, panning for gold
(Friday, August 1)

Note: Walk of 1.5 miles at St. Mary's Glacier, standing and walking during visit of Gold Mine and panning.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in hotel
 Morning: This morning we drive west of Denver to St. Mary's Glacier where we will take a hike to and on a permanent snowfield with a naturalist, an amazing sight in the middle of summer!
 Lunch: Picnic box lunch
 Afternoon: After lunch we travel to Idaho Springs, an early days of Colorado mining town. We visit the historic Phoenix Gold Mine started in 1871. We will don hard hats and jackets and descend with our guide into the mine and learning about the prehistoric formation of gold and the historic methods of discovery and mining. After the tour we learn how to pan for gold nuggets (or flakes!) and take our chances at "striking it rich"!
 Dinner: Our dinner tonight is catered at the hotel
 Evening: We gather for farewells and reflections.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Independent departures after breakfast, hotel check-out 10 am
(Saturday, August 2)
 Depart From: Independent departures after breakfast
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages

Author: Dr. Thomas R. Holtz Jr.

Description: Written by a professional paleontologist for young readers, this award-winning guide to the complete Dinosauria is packed with enough detail and insider information to satisfy even adult dinophiles! The text includes brief entries on all 800+ "named" species of Mesozoic dinosaurs, as well as chapters on the history of dinosaur discoveries, the science of dinosaur art, dinosaur biology, and much more. With sidebars by 33 world-famous paleontologists and museum-quality illustrations, this is a must-have compendium of fact and fandom that dino enthusiasts of all ages will devour with glee!

Geology Underfoot along Colorado's Front Range

Author: Lon Abbott and Terri Cook

Description: The transition from the relatively flat Great Plains to the craggy peaks of Colorado s Front Range is one of North America s most abrupt topographical contrasts. The epic, 1,800-million-year geologic story behind this amazing landscape is even more awe inspiring. In Geology Underfoot along Colorado s Front Range, the most recent addition to the Geology Underfoot series, authors (and geoscientists) Lon Abbott and Terri Cook narrate the Front Range s tale, from its humble beginnings as a flat, nondescript seafloor through several ghostly incarnations as a towering mountain range. The book s 21 chapters, or vignettes, lead you to easily accessible stops along the Front Range s highways and byways, where you ll meet the apatosaur and other dinosaurs who roamed the floodplains and beaches that once covered the Front Range; look for diamonds in rare, out-of-the-way volcanic pipes; learn how America s mountain, Pikes Peak, developed from molten magma miles below the surface only to become an important visual landmark for early Great Plains travelers; and walk the Gangplank, a singularly important plateau for both nineteenth-century westward expansion and our understanding of the Front Range s most recent exhumation. A healthy dose of full-color illustrations and photos demystify the concepts put forth in the authors elegant, insightful prose. With Geology Underfoot along Colorado s Front Range in hand, you ll feel like you re traveling through time as you explore the Front Range s hidden geologic treasures.

Messages in Stone: Colorado's Colorful Geology

Author: Vince Mathews and the Colorado Geological Survey

Description: Introduction to the rocks, structures and geologic history of Colorado. Includes discussion of landforms and geologic hazards. Lavishly illustrated with photographs of Colorado sites and maps. Appropriate for geologists and non-geologists.

Guide to the Geology of Colorado

Author: Andrew M. Taylor

Description: A general overview of the geology of Colorado. Written for the non-geologist. 60 color photographs. Two large maps. Book is printed on high quality glossy paper.

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:

© Road Scholar 2015 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768