Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »
The Perfect Gift for Travelers: Our #1 New York Times® best selling book »

Onsted, Michigan

Prehistoric Forest Amusement Park

The remains of an abandoned dinosaur theme park litter the woods just off the highway. 

The Prehistoric Forest, a roadside attraction established in 1963, was a true American tourist tar pit. The theme park lured visitors to its property with the promise of not just life-sized fiberglass dinos, but an active man-made volcano, a trundling Safari Train, and the famously tall 400-foot Jungle Rapids Water Slide.

A stroll through the park transported visitors back to the past. Fifteen sculpted dinosaurs coexisted beside cavemen, lavish waterfalls, interactive fossil digging pits, and more. And then the park itself became a thing of the past.

Prehistoric Forest, like so many roadside attractions, fell victim to the interstates that rerouted traffic between major cities. Business dipped way down in the 1980s, and the park limped along until closing in 2002. The park now lies abandoned just a five-hour drive from the (still open) Dinosaur Gardens. 

Time and the elements continue to erode the dinosaurs and cavemen, but vandals have played a larger role in their destruction. In the 80s, while the park was still operating, three of the statues disappeared, and later turned up in front of a local high school. Similarly, a few statues ended up on the roof of a high school in 2010. Security cameras now watch over the few remaining prehistoric creatures.

Know Before You Go

The park is located on private property. Please do not visit without permission from the landowner.