On a clear and sunny day, the Bureau of Land Management hosted “Fossil Day” at the visitor center in Big Water, Utah on October 8, 2022. Dozens of children and adults from the local area and visitors filled the visitor center, inside and out. There were plenty of activities to learn about fossils, paleontology and dinosaurs!
Designed based on an ammonite fossil, the Big Water visitor center looks like a kind of snail shell from the sky enclosing a patio and amphitheater, a perfect setting to talk about fossils and paleontology. On the ground there were several activity stations where participants could learn by doing a variety of activities. Along both sides of the walkway from the parking lot, a timeline explained to visitors what existed from the early days on earth to modern times.
Visitors were greeted by a smiling volunteer at the welcome table and received an “Adventure Guide” booklet that guided visitors through the different activities both in the book and on the ground. At each groundbased activity, stickers issued could be placed in the booklet, showing completion of the activity. Other activities in the booklet involved looking around the visitor center facility and answering questions with the pencil that came with the booklet.
At the “Evolve or Perish” game, participants used a pair of large foam dice in the game to figure out if their dinosaur evolved and survived or not. Aspiring paleontologists could ‘dig for a dinosaur’, make their own ‘fossil’ or make dinosaur prints on the patio floor with sidewalk chalk. Another table called “Dino Food” explained how some dinosaurs were only vegetarians and others only ate meat. Glen Canyon NRA hosted a table with additional fossil-related activities.
Inside the visitor center, at different times, paleontologists spoke about fossils and dinosaurs – especially those that are known to exist in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and elsewhere in Utah. Speakers included Alan Titus, Randy Irmis, Merle Graffam and Scott Richardson. Some of the dinosaurs represented in models and paintings were discovered and named for some of the speakers.
Last year, a similar event, called “Dinosaur Day” was held within a day of this year’s event. This year’s event was a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and the Glen Canyon Conservancy. Several volunteers from the Page and Big Water area helped with the event. The event was very well attended by locals and visitors. The parking lot was overflowing. Many participants hope that this successful event will continue every year.
For more information, contact the Big Water Visitor Center at 435- 675-3200 and the Glen Canyon Conservancy at https://www.canyonconservancy.org/.