Where is Glen Rose, Texas and why should you visit?
Glen Rose is a sleepy little Texan town roughly an hour’s drive southwest of Fort Worth, and about an hour and a half southwest of Dallas. Read on for firsthand descriptions of the tourist attractions I explored, plus a couple fun places I discovered on my own.
Planning your visit
At the bottom of this page, you will find a handy summary of:
- GPS friendly addresses
- Admission prices
- Hours of operation
- Insider tips and firsthand suggestions
Dinosaur Valley State Park
A trip to Glen Rose isn’t complete without paying homage to the official state dinosaur of Texas, Paluxysaurus Jonesi, whose fossilized tracks may be seen at Dinosaur Valley State Park. The heavy clay-like mud of the Pauluxy River perfectly preserved these ancient footprints.
When the river is low, they are easy to see. If the river is up, you may have to get your feet wet to check them out, but it’s definitely worth it. The state park is ideal for family picnics, hiking, and camping.
Parents, be warned! On your way to Dinosaur Valley State Park, you will pass extremely tempting child bait in the form of a place called Dinosaur World. This 22-acre park features over 100 life sized dinosaur models, as well as a museum, a playground and even a place where kids can dig for fossils.
If your pockets are deep, it is definitely worth visiting. If you are on a tight budget, however, rest assured that there are two large dinosaur statues within the state park that will definitely delight the little ones.
Glen Rose, Texas Historic Town Square
Compared to other Texan cities with historic downtown squares, the one in Glen Rose is rather petite. However, even in Texas, bigger is not always better!
The town square here includes unique details that set it apart from others I have seen. At the center is Somervell Courthouse, a beautiful building in the Romanesque Revival style, which dates from 1894. Just in front of it is a star-shaped drinking fountain made of petrified wood. This, in turn, sits beside a little gazebo, also made of petrified wood. The gazebo’s walls include locally-found crystals, fossils and even a beautifully-shaped dinosaur footprint in its construction.
Look to your left as you face Somervell Courthouse, and you find a bronze sculpture which depicts a woman on horseback reaching out towards a cowboy. The plaque beside it describes a fascinating true story, a romantic tale in which a captive Indian maiden falls in love with a cowboy. I think it would make an excellent movie. (Hollywood, are you listening?)
Somervell Courthouse is surrounded by cute little shops. Sadly, many were closed since I visited on a Sunday. (I did find a boutique open with a sale on sundresses, something I can never have too many of here in north Texas.)
Glance down the street and you’ll notice that the hardware store is a hangout for local guys, especially the silver-haired set. A little farther down the street you will find a marvelous cafe.
I was delighted to discover that the only bookstore in town is also home to a delightful cafe. I fell in love with the Storiebook Cafe the moment I stepped inside, thanks to the creative decor, the bookshelves with sliding ladders, and – more than anything else – the friendly vibe. Luckily, the food did not disappoint. It was too hot for coffee, but the Greek salad and iced tea I had were light and refreshing.
Barnard Street Bakery
My other big foodie thrill on this trip was stumbling upon an excellent bakery in – of all places – a gas station. We stopped for gas on our way into town and as I poked around looking for iced tea, I noticed some beautiful pastries for sale. By “beautiful” I mean it was obvious that they were baked from scratch. (Full disclosure: I owned a bakery/coffeehouse for a few years, so I have an eye for these things!) We bought a brownie and it was fantastic. As a result, not only did we stop in for fresh pastries the next morning, but we left town with a bag full for the road.
Big Rocks Park
As the name suggests, there are a lot of big rocks to be found at Big Rocks Park. It’s still an understatement, somehow, because there is more to these huge stones than just their size. I think it’s fascinating how the river has sculpted them into smooth, sinuous shapes, rather like petrified clouds.
The boulders are fun to climb on, and when the river is up, people also swim and raft here. I visited during this year’s drought, however, so the riverbed was nearly dry. Even so, it’s a fun place to let your kids run off some steam after being cooped up in the car for a while and makes a good backdrop for family photos. Plus, it’s free!
Oakdale Park 1930’s motor court
The City of Glen Rose recently purchased Oakdale Park, a humble remnant of 1930’s vacation history. Back in the 20’s and 30’s, Americans started traveling for pleasure. Enterprising folks saw a need for shelter along major roadways, and soon, little cabins cropped up along the way to provide this. Each of Oakdale Park’s little cabins are available for rental. In addition, the pool here is quite large, even by today’s standards, and for a small fee you can take a dip even if you are not staying in a cabin.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
For those who want to see exotic animals up close, Fossil Rim Wildlife Centeris a safari park with over 1,000 African and Asian animals. Visitors can choose to drive through on their own or take guided tours. In hot weather, get to the park early since many animals retreat to the shade during mid-day. The animals are accustomed to people and will approach your vehicle hoping for snacks. There is a cafe halfway through, however, it’s a good idea to also bring your own snacks and water so you won’t be rushed.
Hotels in Glen Rose
My husband and I stayed at the Best Western Dinosaur Valley Inn and Suites on this particular trip, and it exceeded all expectations. Not only were the accommodations clean and comfortable, but the free breakfast, while simple, included plenty of options. The outdoor pools are refreshing and include a shaded swimming area, which is important here in Texas. The dinosaur-themed decor works well, with the koi pond adding a touch of elegance. The staff was helpful and, unlike so many places offering free wireless Internet, the Wi-Fi at this hotel worked great.
Planning Your Day Trip
Dinosaur Valley State Park: 1629 Park Road 59, Glen Rose, Texas 76043
Dinosaur World: 1058 Park Road 59 Glen Rose, TX 76043, Adults $12.75, Kids(ages 3-12)$9.75, Seniors (ages 60+)$10.75, Pets (on leashes) Free
Historic Downtown Glen Rose: Somervell Courthouse, 101 NE Barnard St, Glen Rose, Texas 76043
Storiebook Cafe: 502 NE Barnard Street, Glen Rose, Texas 76043, Open Monday – Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Barnard Street Bakery: Tiger Corner – Exxon, 1110 NE Big Bend Trail, Glen Rose, TX 76043
Big Rocks Park: 1014 Southwest Barnard Street, Glen Rose, Texas 76043
Oakdale Park: 1019 NE Barnard St, Glen Rose, TX 76043
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center: 2299 County Road 2008, Glen Rose, TX 76043
Best Western Dinosaur Valley Inn and Suites: 1311 NE Big Bend Trail, Glen Rose, TX 76043
Please note: While all the above information is accurate as of this writing, please be aware that it is subject to change. Also, although I received a media rate at the Best Western Dinosaur Valley Inn and Suites, the opinions expressed here are wholly my own.