Utahraptor: Utah Is Getting a New State Park Named After a Dinosaur

Peter Watson

Utah is getting two new state parks to add to its other 44 state and five national parks. One of the new parks will honor the state dinosaur, the 100 million-year-old Utahraptor.


BYU's Museum of Paleontology displays a Utahraptor skeleton cast (Image: Jaren Wilkey/BYU)

Located about 15 miles north of Moab in Utah, Utahraptor State Park will be in the Dalton Wells area in Grand County, where the 100 million-year-old dinosaur fossils were first discovered in 1975.

The first specimens of Utahraptor were excavated in a bonebed outside Moab, known as the state’s recreation capita, in 1975 by American palaeontologist Jim Jensen.

Later, a large foot-claw and further remains were found during several different excavations in 1991.

The remains of approximately 10 additional dinosaurs have since been found in the area, which is nearby to Arches National Park.

The region is brimming with dinosaur fossils dating back over 125 million years.


Arches National Park (Image: Anthony Heflin/Shutterstock)

Utahraptor ostrommaysi was a feather-covered bipedal carnivore that stretched more than 20 feet (six meters) long, weighed more than 600 pounds (272kg) and had nine-inch (23cm) claws.

Utahraptor means "Utah's thief" and is a genus of large dromaeosaurid dinosaur that lived in North America during the Early Cretaceous period.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, a number of different names were considered for the new discovery – including spielbergi for the Jurassic Park movie director, Steven Spielberg – before archaeologists decided to honor the state with Utahraptor ostrommaysi.

The Utahraptor has since become the state's official dinosaur, and the new park named in its honor will cover 6,500 acres (26 square km) of land, incorporating 150 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails.


Mountain bikers near Moab (Image: Michael G Smith/Shutterstock)

Moab is known as southern Utah's adventure base camp and is celebrated for its dramatic scenery and outstanding hiking and mountain biking trails – particularly fat-tire enthusiasts.

The town attracts many tourists, mostly visitors to the nearby Arches and Canyonlands national parks.

Many visitors come to ride the extensive network of trails including the Slickrock Trail, or for the annual Moab Jeep Safari where four-wheelers come to challenge the rough terrain of the backcountry in the Moab area.

Gov. Spencer Cox on Tuesday signed into law the bill that sets aside about $37 million to establish Utahraptor and Lost Creek state parks.

"This bill has been over 100 million years in the making, and its time has come," Rep. Eliason said on the House floor on Tuesday.

The new funding and designation will help to protect the land and to prevent fossils from being stolen from the area.

A second new state park will also be formed from Lost Creek Reservoir in Morgan County, which will become the Lost Creek State Park.

The area is popular for fishing, boating and water sports as well as hunting. However, hunting will now be limited to only waterfowl for reservation purposes.

Utah's State Parks

The two new parks will be the 45th and 46th in Utah state, and according to a fiscal note attached the bill, they could cost visitors up to $25 in entrance fees and up to $40 for overnight camping.

  1. Anasazi State Park
  2. Antelope Island State Park
  3. Bear Lake State Park
  4. Camp Floyd State Park
  5. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
  6. Dead Horse Point State Park
  7. Deer Creek State Park
  8. East Canyon State Park
  9. Edge of the Cedars State Park
  10. Escalante State Park
  11. Flight Park State Park
  12. Fremont Indian State Park
  13. Frontier Homestead State Park
  14. Goblin Valley State Park
  15. Goosenecks State Park
  16. Great Salt Lake State Park
  17. Green River State Park
  18. Gunlock State Park
  19. Huntington State Park
  20. Hyrum State Park
  21. Jordan River State Park
  22. Jordanelle State Park
  23. Kodachrome Basin State Park
  24. Millsite State Park
  25. Otter Creek State Park
  26. Palisade State Park
  27. Piute State Park
  28. Quail Creek State Park
  29. Red Fleet State Park
  30. Rockport Reservoir State Park
  31. Sand Hollow State Park
  32. Scofield Reservoir State Park
  33. Snow Canyon State Park
  34. Starvation Reservoir State Park
  35. Steinaker State Park
  36. Territorial Statehouse
  37. This Is the Place Heritage Park
  38. Union Pacific State Park
  39. Utah Field House State Park
  40. Utah Lake State Park
  41. Wasatch Mountain State Park
  42. Willard Bay State Park
  43. Yuba Lake State Park

Utah's National Parks

Utah is also known for its five national parks, dubbed the "Mighty 5."

  1. Arches National Park
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park
  3. Canyonlands National Park
  4. Capitol Reef National Park
  5. Zion National Park

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Peter Watson is a writer, photographer and adventurer. A keen trekker and climber he can usually be found on the trails of the Greater Ranges. He’s visited over 80 countries and is currently focused on climbing the seven summits – the highest mountain on every continent. Four down, three to go... He has also travelled extensively around the US developing a penchant for American backcountry, abandoned buildings and natural wonders en route.

Phoenix, AZ

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