Friday, September 27, 2013

Dinosaur Hill

In my hometown of Rapid City, South Dakota, a large hill rises up from the city's center.  But this is no ordinary high point.  On it's crest reside life-size replicas of dinosaurs that used to roam this area.

Here's "Dino!"

During a mid-August trip to visit family, I got a hankering to go see the dinosaurs.  One of my favorite childhood places, it had been years since I'd climbed up the hill.

The stegosaurus is popular with kids

Dinosaur Park, as it's officially known, was constructed in the 1930's as a depression-era WPA project.  These large concrete and steel structures were meant to be life-size reproductions of prehistoric creatures whose fossils were found nearby.  The park was dedicated in 1936, the same year my Dad was born (hence the family joke that he's "as old as the dinosaurs.")

My brother and I liked climbing on him too

From the parking lot, ascending a long stone staircase leads one to five large dino sculptures.  First, a duck-billed platypus, with a stegosaurus neighbor.  Further up the path, a Tyrannosaurus Rex shares the concrete patio with a Triceratops.  On the very top of the hill, a giant brontosaurus rises towards the sky.  This huge life-size dinosaur anchors the skyline, and is visible all over town.  It's a Rapid City landmark.

Stegosaurus extreme close-up

Growing up, my family took many trips to Dinosaur Hill.  A free city park, it was a great way to spend a summer afternoon.  The smaller dinosaurs were perfect to climb upon and the tails of the larger ones provided nice seats.  Kids could clamber over the dino sculptures to their heart's content and no one minded.

"M" Hill

And the views from on top of Dinosaur hill can't be beat!  On a clear day, one can see the entire city of Rapid City spread out below, plus 100 miles beyond in all directions.  On the day of my visit, I captured a great shot of adjacent "M" Hill, which I climbed with my folks last year.

Sunset on the Brontosaurus

The brontosaurus is the most amazing of the sculptures.  He stands 80 feet long and 28 feet high.  A mighty animal indeed!

Siting under the dino's rear end

The brontosaurus was, and still is, my favorite dinosaur in the park.  I have fond memories of playing underneath his tree-sized legs, and sitting on the massive tail.

The fearsome T-Rex

The T-Rex, although supposedly a fierce dinosaur, looks awfully friendly at this park.  It almost appears he's smiling.


And he likes to play peekaboo too!

A favorite childhood pastime - sitting on the dinosaur's tails

One of my favorite old photos of dinosaur park, here's me, two of my brothers, and my cousin sitting in the crook of a dinosaur tail.  As you can tell, I'm the one not looking at the camera!  Guess that's why I'm usually behind the lens instead of in front of it.

I'm still a kid at heart!

I revert to a little kid when it comes to the dinosaurs, and still love climbing on their well-worn faces.

My brothers and I ride Proceratops

Down by the parking lot, there's a large gift shop, and two more smaller dino sculptures.  A Proceratops, with his helmet-shaped head, just begs to be ridden.

My hubby goes for a ride

Sometimes even my hubby is a kid at heart!

My cousin and I playing on the Dimetrodon

There's also a sail-finned Dimetrodon.  A small enough dinosaur for little kids to clamber all over, even sitting on top of his head. My brothers used to pose for silly photos with their heads in this guy's mouth.

Dinosaur attack!

I found out my head no longer fits in the Dimetron's mouth.  And I'm a little big to sit on top of him.  But for a funny photo, the legs work nicely.

Good night from Dinosaur Hill

As the sun began to set on a warm August South Dakota night, I bid Dinosaur Hill goodbye for another year.  But it was fun to revisit the past in a place full of great childhood memories.

Sharing with:  Weekly Top Shot.


  1. Really sweet post, Linda. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  2. What fun! Those are the very kinds of things I look for when we are visiting a city or an area for the frist time. It's what makes this special. How cool to have those pictures of your childhood memories to post along with the current ones!

  3. This was so neat ! Seeing you at the park now and when you were a kid was very cool. Thanks for sharing. looks like a fun spot full of good memories !

  4. What a fun post Linda! Hope you don't have scars from the "bite" on your leg!

  5. One of my fav posts ever! Loved the mix of your childhood pics with those from today! I had never heard of Dinosaur park before--but if I am ever in SD, I will stop there!
    PS: Boo on our storm this weekend. I wanted to go hiking too:(

  6. What a fun post, love those dinosaurs! Thank you Linda, for coming by sharing your creative photography on Weekly Top Shot #102!

  7. Ditto everyones comments. At 1st I had thought it would be your children on the dinosaurs. You've woven the story beautifully.

  8. wonderful and fun photography of past and present and glad to see the 'child in all of you' ~ happy week end ~ thanks for 'visiting' come again ~ carol ^_^

  9. How wonderful to have your childhood pics of this whimsical place!
    The sculptures certainly help put the size of the dinosaurs in perspective.

  10. Hi! Nice captures. Very impressive!

  11. Linda,
    When you call Rapid City your hometown does that mean you grew up in Rapid or you live there now?

    Looks like Dinosaur Hill has lots of good memories; both old and new.

  12. Loved the photos of you as a child. You obviously enjoyed clambering over the dinosaurs.

  13. What a great park, and I can imagine how much fun it must be for the kids.

  14. Love the old photos, the Optician in me really digs your cousin's eyeglass frames! There's something about B&W, love those old shots. Whenever you do something like this I think I've got to dig out some old photos and tell some stories. Problem is I have a crappy memory, can't remember what happened last week unless I write it down, hence the blog.

  15. I pinned this - what a fun place. I'd be climbing all over those dinosaurs too.

    Love your old childhood photos!

  16. Haha, I remember these. I worked at Custer State Park a long time ago.

  17. What an amazing place. It seems to bring out joy in child and adult. Fantastic shots. I love the black and white photos!

  18. What a sweet post, and fun-tastic photos!

  19. These dinosaurs always remind me of Peewee's Big Adventure. A sweet slice of Americana. xo

  20. Oh my gosh, this is so fun! I'd love to pose with some of those dinos :) Love that you guys let your inner kids come out and play!

  21. how cool. Two generations on the same playground. :)

  22. Pretty neat- I remember a similar park north of where I grew up in Michigan.

  23. Linda,
    I love how you incorporated the pictures of the past with the present. So fun to see you then and now and some things just haven't changed! Such a happy and delightful post!

  24. Linda, great pictures! I especially loved the old black & whites. We have a place like this here in UT. We took our kids there when they were little and they loved it.

  25. We've been there! We have pictures of our kids on the triceratops & stegosaurus & the great tail of the brontosaurus, too. We were the only ones up on the hill at the end of the day, your photos bring back memories!
    Our middle child, Johnathan, was our biggest dinosaur enthusiast, he was about three and a half when we were there. (It's been a few years.)
    That was a fun trip for our family, the Badlands & Black Hills were very cool. Custer St. Park & the Needles Highway were fantastic.
    Wonderful photos - I enjoyed the childhood shots!

  26. What a cool experience going back in time! This is what I love about being back in Maine. Thanks for sharing your family photos with us :)


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