Dinosaur Tracks at Government Canyon – Helotes, Texas - Atlas Obscura

Dinosaur Tracks at Government Canyon

Helotes, Texas

Over 100 million years ago, beach-bound dinosaurs left their permanent marks on San Antonio's landscape. 

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About 110 million years ago, prehistoric creatures strolled across a muddy beach in what is now San Antonio, Texas. The beach and coast have long since relocated. But the dinosaur tracks remain, stamped into now-solid earth by the passage of time.

The tracks are within the Government Canyon State Natural Area. As of right now, they’re Bexar County’s only known dinosaur tracks on public land.

Park officials first uncovered the tracks in 2014. They’d previously been buried beneath pools of water and layers of sediment. Local paleontologists originally believed there were only a couple dozen tracks. However, they were delighted to discover hundreds more.

Scientists have studied the prints and theorize that they were made by two different types of dinosaurs. The three-tip prints were made by three-toed, two-legged theropods (meat eaters), while the larger, rounder tracks were made by giant four-legged sauropods (plant eaters).

In addition to its paleontological treasure, the park offers over 40 miles of trails, camping areas, educational displays, and even an aquifer recharge zone. Though the dinosaur tracks are only a small section of this 12,000-acre natural area, they are a must-see for any science and outdoor enthusiast.

Know Before You Go

Get a map at the visitor's center and start out on trail three. Follow the signs to the dino tracks. Wear a good pair of hiking shoes/boots and take plenty of water. Also, always stay on the trails, because rattlesnakes do live in this part of Texas. The tracks are just over two miles from the visitor center with an elevation change of about 200 feet. The trail is very rough, mainly consisting of gravel and stone. The trail is open to hiking and bikes. The park rangers recommend allocating four hours round trip for hikers. If traveling with young children, the trail is likely too rough for them to make it all the way there and back.