This driving tour begins at the Clayton, New Mexico tourist information center. Outside are some cartoonish dinosaur statues as well as New Mexico Historic Markers. This is a good place to ask if unsure of directions to any tour locations.
First stop, the dinosaur tracks of North Carrizo Creek in Kenton, Oklahoma. If for some reason I had to move to Oklahoma, Kenton would be my choice. The Kenton area consists of high basalt-capped mesas, sandstone bluffs, and green valleys occupied by farms and small creeks. From Kenton, follow the signs north to the Black Mesa Reserve. About one-third mile north of the Reserve parking lot is a small private road headed east. At the end of the road is short walking path to the creek bottom and the tracks. The tracks are on private property, but the location is open to the public during daylight hours. For further assistance in locating the tracks or questions regarding accessibility, ask at the Kenton Museum.
A future paleontologist has accompanied me on this trip, and has agreed to perform as a model to show the scale of the tracks.
When nearby this area, Black Mesa Reserve is worth a stop. Unlike the Black Mesa State Park, the Reserve is natural and undeveloped, and has no facilities. What it does have, an 8-1/2 mile hiking trail to the summit of Black Mesa, the highest point in Oklahoma.
What the heck?!?
On the road to Black Mesa Reserve this is hard to miss, some sort of faux-Western development (strip mall? casino? hotel?) that was abandoned before opening. It would be something to ask about at the Kenton Museum. I first saw this at least ten years ago, maybe 15, and it looked the exact same then as it does now. Almost the same…
The don’t build ’em like they used to.
Black Mesa State Park
The state park is nowhere near Black Mesa; it’s about 9 miles east of Kenton. The turnoff is well marked and the park is easy to find. The State Park is small and heavily developed with a man-made lake, campground, picnic areas, and playground equipment. It’s a stop on this tour because of a petrified tree exhibit.
In 1931 a road construction crew discovered ancient bones, including 80% intact skeleton of a Brontosaurus, named “Cimmy,” the Cimarronasaurus. There isn’t much to see at the location today, just an old highway borrow pit, but it is a famous location in the world of Oklahoma paleontology. At the rear of the pit is a concrete life-size replica of Cimmy’s femur.
The quarry isn’t marked on maps and there is no sign at the pit. But it’s rather easy to find by driving approximately 7-1/2 miles east of Kenton, towards Boise City, and looking for a quarry adjacent to the road on the north side.
Boise City is the home of the Cimarron Heritage Center, a museum of local and regional history. Standing lookout on the museum grounds is a towering life-size sculpture of Cimmy the Cimarronasaurus.
If visiting during open hours, the museum contains additional dinosaur-related items, a unique prairie-style architectural home, a Dust Bowl exhibit, and archaeological artifacts. The most interesting non-dinosaur information is related to the aerial bombing of Boise City during World War II. Really! Also, when in Boise City at the courthouse square, look for the replica WWII-era bomb and crater recreation in front the train caboose (Chamber of Commerce office).
Clayton Lake State Park
Finishing the tour with one of the most famous dinosaur track sites in the world, Clayton Lake State Park. The reason to end here, the tracks are more easily viewed and photographed during late afternoon hours or other times when the sun is low on the horizon; winter is a great time to visit.