Dinosaur lovers will love stepping back in time at the Mountain America Museum of Ancient Life. It’s home to more dinosaur skeleton mounts than any other museum in North America, plus a quarry dig that allows kids to play paleontologists.
Located near Salt Lake City, Thanksgiving Point houses five attractions including a butterfly biosphere, a garden, a working farm, and the Museum of Ancient Life. It also offers year-long memberships that include all five venues, plus discounts for family groups like two adults and all their children. You’ll be glad you read this!
This museum has one of the biggest dinosaur collections in North America. Its two main galleries feature dozens of full-sized dinosaur skeletons, with several more fossils on display in other rooms.
The first gallery features a number of large sauropods, including the diplodocid Supersaurus which is over 100 feet long. Nearby is a stegosaurus called Hesperosaurus, which had a starring role in the original Jurassic Park film. Other notable dinosaurs in this gallery include a complete Allosaurus and a Triceratops.
Other highlights include a rare skull from a Torosaurus, which is a relative of the Triceratops and may be the link between dinosaurs and birds. Also on display are the remains of a glyptodon and a Mastodon, plus Ice Age mammals like a Wooly Mammoth.
The final room in this portion of the museum features Utahraptor, a dromaeosaur that was unique to Utah. This large theropod is displayed in an active hunting pose. The museum also has a great collection of stromatolites, the first organisms to appear on Earth.
The Museum of Ancient Life hosts one of the largest collections of mounted dinosaur skeletons in the world. In addition to 60 complete dinosaur skeletons in the galleries, MAL also houses 50 hands-on exhibits like the Quarry Dig and Erosion Table. It’s a lively adventure from start to finish!
The museum is set up in order of the life timeline on Earth, starting with fish and smaller animals and building up to dinosaurs and wooly mammoths. It’s a fantastic way to walk through prehistoric times, and MAL is one of the best dinosaur museums in North America for its presentation style.
The museum’s collection includes the holotype skeleton of the new Utahraptor, an early member of the ankylosaur family. It is displayed in an active hunting pose, and it is a stunning dinosaur to see in person! Kids especially love the fossil dig area, where they can pretend to be paleontologists and brush sand off dinosaur bones. This article is worth reading.
Life on the Land
Utah has a lot of dinosaur riches, including state and national parks, track sites, dig sites, and terrific research museums that feature dozens of mounted fossil specimens. But one of the best dinosaur display museums in North America is within a half-hour’s drive from home in Lehi. It’s the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point, which first opened in 2000.
This museum has more than 60 complete dinosaur skeletons—the most in any museum anywhere in the world. Among the exhibits you’ll see is a skeleton of Utahraptor, a large theropod from the dromaeosaur family that was the state dinosaur of Utah in the Early Cretaceous. Another display features the dinosaur Tanycolagreus, a small carnivore in the ankylosaur family that is difficult to classify.
You can also touch a 149-million-year-old Barosaurus fossil and see a dinosaur snout up close in this museum. Other hands-on exhibits, like the Quarry Dig and the Erosion Table, let you interact with prehistory in a way that makes learning fun and engaging.
Life in the Sea
With hundreds of fossil specimens showcasing the evolution of sea creatures, this museum is a fascinating place for aspiring paleontologists to learn how to identify species and find clues to their past. The museum also features a replica of Timpanogos Cave, as well as hedgerow mazes and a five-acre outdoor Discovery Garden for visitors to explore and learn about the environment.
Eighty million years ago, a menacing precursor to Tyrannosaurus Rex stalked the western shore of an ancient seaway that cut North America in half. Named Lythronax, this 2.5-ton beast was a formidable predator, and visitors can see its imposing skull in this exhibit.
The Museum of Ancient Life is part of the Thanksgiving Point attraction complex, which also includes the Butterfly Biosphere; Farm Country, a working farm where kids can milk a cow and ride a horse; and Ashton Gardens, with broad lawns, tons of flowers and separate garden areas and a giant waterfall grotto. All of the attractions have the same mission: to get kids excited about science and nature, so they’re squarely aimed at families. Click here for the next blog post.
Driving directions from South Jordan Window Cleaning to Mountain America Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point
Driving directions from Mountain America Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point to Evermore Park