Moab’s dry landscape acts as a time capsule, preserving evidence of a world humans have never known. If you live out West, dinosaur tracks might not be such a big deal. To us, they were very exciting. It was our first time seeing them and finding them was a bit of a surprise. We stumbled across Poison Spider Dinosaur Track Trail when Arches National Park was already at capacity for the morning.
In addition to dinosaur tracks, the Poison Spider Trail includes petroglyphs and links up to Longbow Arch Trail. We don’t normally write about such short hikes, but you’d be surprised just how lost you can get on the 1/4-mile Poison Spider loop.
When using Google Maps, it’s worth noting the site is mislabeled as Potash Road Dinosaur Tracks.
Coming from Moab on US-191, make a left onto UT-279, just before you reach the Arches National Park. From there, follow the canyon road alongside the Colorado River for about 6 miles.
Before you get there, at the 5-mile mark, make a quick pit stop for some easy to spot roadside petroglyphs. Look for the “Petroglyphs” sign, just after the Wall Street Climbing Area.
The turn-off to the dirt parking lot for Poison Spider Dinosaur Tracks Trail is well marked from the road. This area is free to visit and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
FYI: To the left of the parking area is the 4×4 Poison Spider Safari Route. Unless you have some mad off roading skills with a modified 4×4, we don’t recommend trying it.
The Shortest Trail You’ll Ever Get Lost On
The trail started obvious enough from the parking area. We headed past the vault toilet, and up the rocky sandstone hill. It wasn’t long until we came to a fork in the trail where the sign was too faded to figure out what was happening. We could barely see the arrow pointing to the right for the dinosaur tracks.
Look Carefully ... Dinosaur Tracks Are There, We Promise
It wasn’t long until we saw a sign explaining the dinosaur tracks, but where were they???
We searched around and around.
As the trail made an obvious curve to the right, we followed it to the edge of a very steep cliff. Though we found an amazing view over the Colorado River Canyon, we still didn’t find the dinosaur tracks.
I’m not sure what we expected, but when we finally found them, they couldn’t have been more obvious.
Above our heads, directly in front of the sign, there they were. Two very prominent three-toed dinosaur tracks.
Afterwards, we looked through online reviews. Apparently, finding the dinosaur tracks is a common challenge, which made us feel at least a little less silly…but only a little.
Wait, There’s More to the Poison Spider Trail
Wanting to do the loop for the trail, our next challenge was figuring out where it was. Our instinct was to head up the hill. However, there were so many false trails, we kept hitting dead ends, some with dangerously steep drops.
The irony of feeling so completely lost, yet still being able to see our car was hilarious.
Finally, we tried heading left and found another sign explaining a large boulder in front of us.
Hidden for over 190 million years, the boulder fell in the mid-1960’s revealing more preserved dinosaur tracks on the Poison Spider Trail. Can you imagine what else is hidden beneath the rocks of this hill?
These prints took a bit more imagination to see, but still fascinating.
Spot the Petroglyphs of Poison Spider Dinosaur Trail
From the large boulders we headed up towards the wall of the cliff’s face. Following the cliff wall there were several sections of petroglyphs. Sadly, with so much graffiti it was challenging to tell what was authentic.
As we made our way to the end of the cliff wall, we noticed green swatches of paint leading into the distance. We hadn’t originally intended to do the Longbow Arch Trail, but we are so glad we did.
If you don’t plan to continue on to Longbow Arch, just follow the trail sweeping over to the left. From here the trail is more obvious than at the start, you shouldn’t have an issue winding your way back down to the parking lot.
If you’re up for it, let’s continue to Longbow Arch.
Other Moab Hikes with Dinosaur Tracks
If you’re interested in seeing more dinosaur tracks, you’re in luck. North of Moab there are four more sites just off US-191.
- Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite – One of the best places to see dinosaur tracks near Moab doesn’t require a 4×4 (usually), nor a hike, just a short walk. Today a boardwalk surrounds a former spring where dinosaurs use to frequent. With hundreds of prints preserved in the soil it can be hard to visualize. However, the site has fantastic signage, including a depiction of the dinosaurs standing where their prints are today.
- Mill Canyon Dinosaur Bone Trail – Near the tracksite is another worthy stop where you can see more prints, petrified wood, and dinosaur bones. The road is a bit hairier, so you may prefer a 4×4.
- Cooper Ridge Dinosaur Trackways – We didn’t get to this site, but from what we understand there are two sections of dinosaur tracks. The first is only 500 ft from the parking area. The other requires around 5 miles of hiking.
- Willow Springs – Follow signage to the Klonzo area for many dinosaur tracks. The dirt road crosses a large sandy wash which passenger vehicles may find impossible. This is one of the least popular sites for dinosaur prints because many of them have eroded.
Where to Stay in Moab
Moab is the main town in these parts, with most of its accommodation along the main road, US-191. Expect hotels in Moab to cost more than you’d think they should, especially in peak season.
Books on Moab
With an infinite number of places to explore around Moab, if you’re spending more than a couple of nights a guide sure comes in handy.
- Hiking Canyonlands and Arches National Parks – A guide to more than 60 great hikes.
- Best Easy Day Hikes in Moab – Small enough to carry with you but packed with local hikes you might not find otherwise.
- Collier’s Guide to Photographing Arches National Park – A must for those who want to come away with those perfect photographs.
- A Complete Guide to the Grand Circle National Parks – Visiting more than just Moab? This handy guide provides helpful information on several key parks within the Grand Circle.
Continue your hike to Longbow Arch or check out our other articles on Southern Utah.