Even though, geographically, it’s the second-smallest county in Texas, Somervell County has no shortage of big attractions.
While multiple businesses in historic downtown Glen Rose help bring in large numbers of visitors as the hub, many of them end up discovering one or more of the unique sites that make Somervell County and "The Dinosaur Capital of Texas" (Glen Rose) a special destination.
Here are 10 entertaining attractions to visit on your next day trip:
1. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center — More than 1,100 fascinating animals live on the 1,800-acre park. Among the animal are cheetah, rhinoceros, zebra, wildebeest, bison, aoudad, mountain bongo, gemsbok, roan, oryx, emu, ostrich, deer, wolf, kudu, gazelle, roadrunner, crane and parrot. Visitors can drive their own vehicle through the park or take a guided tour. Day camps and overnight camps are available. For the latest information, ticket prices and current hours of operation, call 254-897-2960, or go online (https://fossilrim.org).
2. Dinosaur Valley State Park — It’s a place where dinosaurs once roamed. It features numerous fossilized footprint tracks (not always visible, depending on river level) in the Paluxy River. There are 20 miles of hiking trails waiting to be explored. The park also offers camping, swimming, and fishing, and visitors can ride their mountain bikes, ride their horses, set up a picnic or visit the souvenir shop. Guided tours are available, as are various ranger programs. Park hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m., unless camping overnight. Headquarters hours: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Call 254-897-4588.
3. Dinosaur World — The dinosaur theme park is billed as a place “where learning and fun go hand in hand.” Visitors walk among massive representations of dinosaurs, in step with the Glen Rose title as the “Dinosaur Capital of Texas.” There is an indoor museum featuring an assortment of real and cast prehistoric fossils and even an animatronics display with motion-activated dinosaurs. Included in every child’s admission price is a fossil dig, a 15-minute activity in which kids can dig for fossils in a specially stocked pit area. Tickets are $12.75 for adults; $10.75 for seniors 60 and over; $9.75 for children ages 3-12 (2 and under free). Admission if free for active duty military. Excavation pass rates are higher. Call 254-898-1526.
4. Big Rocks State Park — The city-owned park is open free of charge to the public. It features a number of remarkably large rocks that can be explored at the edge of the Paluxy Rivery, near the river walk from Paluxy Heritage Park. In addition to the option of swimming, visitors can also opt to bring lunch for a picnic or just relax and watch the water flow.
5. Somervell County Museum — The museum of the Dinosaur Capital of Texas naturally features a dinosaur track exhibit as one of its major attractions, as well as an old still from the days when Glen Rose was known as the White Lightning Capital of Texas. The regular hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. each Thursday and Friday. Tours can be arranged by calling during those hours (254-898-0640). There is no admission charge, but donations are accepted.
6. Paluxy Heritage Park — Visitors to Heritage Park can take a relaxing stroll on the paved Paluxy River walk, leading over to the Big Rocks State Park. There is no admission charge. The Paluxy River is popular among tourists and local residents alike, offering swimming, fishing, kayaking and tubing, among other activities. Heritage Park, with its entrance on Elm Street, is the site of several historical buildings.
7. Barnard’s Mill and Art Museum — Barnard’s Mill was the first permanent structure in the Glen Rose area, and it began as a gristmill in 1860. Over the years, the mill complex has been the location of a cotton gin and a health spa, as well as the Marks-English Hospital. Restoration of the museum building, which was a gift presented to the Somervell History Foundation by Richard Moore Jr. of Fort Worth was completed in 1982. The museum features artifacts, as well as “oriental and American Indian art.” Call 254-897-7494, or go online (www.barnardsmill.org). The website lists the museum’s hours as 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday.
8. Squaw Valley Golf Course — One of the most popular and highly regarded destinations for golfers in the region, Squaw Valley features two 18-hole championship courses — Comanche Lakes Course and Apache Links Course — and a driving range. The 36-hole site has received a 4-1/2-star rating from Golf Digest Magazine. The entrance to the course is at 2439 E. Highway 67 in Glen Rose and it’s open during daylight hours. Call 254-897-7956, or go online (www.squawvalleygc.com).
9. Tres Rios Resort — Where the Brazos and Paluxy rivers converge with Squaw Creek is the 47-acre Tres Rios Resort, at 2322 County Road 312 in Glen Rose. It features fishing, boating, swimming and rafting among the favorite activities, along with plenty of campsites and meeting rooms perfect for family reunions. Members can enjoy bingo, cards, stitching, potluck dinners. wood crafts, bird watching and nature walks. There is also an outdoor pool and a playground. Call (toll free) 855-872-1469 for reservations or go online (www.tresriosrvpark.com) for more details.
10. Wheeler Branch Park — Part of the Texas Parks & Wildlife system, Wheeler Branch is operated by the Somervell County Water District. Take advantage of the fishing pier on the 180-acre reservoir to fish for species including largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, walleye and sunfishes. Park hours are from 7 a.m. until the closing time posted at the gate house. It features a boat ramp with a floating dock, a beach area with its own floating dock island, public restrooms, covered picnic areas and a large pavilion. Day use admission fees: Somervell County residents, $4 (over 65 free); Glen Rose ISD students and children, $2; non-residents, adults, $8, children under 13, $4.