The Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point is one of the best dinosaur museums in the world! Located in Lehi, Utah and open Monday - Saturday, 10 am - 8 pm, the museum delivers one of the best paleontological experiences around. At $20 for adults, $17 for 13-24 (Youth! The only place we know of that considers 24 as youth :-)), and $15 for 3-12, the price of admission is more than offset by the quantity, and quality, of the displays.
Entering the gigantic building one realizes you aren't in a typical museum. The multi-story entrance has a life-sized Quetzalcoatlus reconstruction overhead, as well as a massive predator with numerous smaller dinosaurs scampering about. A Utahraptor is watching you as you enter, even though you won't see it right away. Scary and cool!
The museum's galleries is where the magic is, however for families with younger children they have what has to be the largest dinosaur playset at any museum, complete with a river, sand, and lots and lots of dinosaur toys. Prepare to spend an hour or more here with young ones!
The halls are grouped by time. The Jurassic hall has Dr. BC's personal favorite dinosaur, Supersaurus, mounted. At ~120' long it is hard to truly appreciate its size until standing under it. They have on display the original fossils of not only Supersaurus but Brachiosaurus as well, one of the heaviest dinosaurs that ever lived. Torvosaurus, that Jurassic apex predator, is on the prowl, as is Allosaurus and original fossils of the ultra-rare, ultra-cool Ceratosaurus and Gargoyleosaurus! A new kind of stegosaurid, Hesperosaurus, is on display, along with another half dozen denizens of the Mesozoic.
Hesperosaurus - notice the rounded plates on its back, one of the key differences from Stegosaurus, which has triangular plates
The Cretaceous hall is breathtaking. Nowhere else can one see not one but two Tyrannosaurus giants facing off over the carcass of a hapless hadrosaur while a Triceratops and giant Edmontosaurus watch on nervously. Pachycephalosaurus mounted charging one another in a wonderfully decorated exhibit round out a great Cretaceous experience.
The marine reptiles exhibit is unbelievably awesome. The giant turtle Archelon is surrounded by giant mosasaurs and fish from the famous Western Interior Seaway. The entire room is bathed in gorgeous blue light, properly setting the mood for this deep sea extravaganza. If you like Mesozoic aquatic beasties this is the room for you!
The Ice Age is well represented with awesome mammals from throughout western North America. The exhibit of the pachyderm versus humans is particularly intriguing, we'll say no more other than to say make sure you spend some time appreciating how dangerous it was to hunt big beasts "back in the day".
Aside from vertebrates they have one of the world's best collections of invertebrates and plants. We spent nearly an hour just looking at the hundreds of exquisitely preserved trilobites, ammonites, and other not-so-well-known critters.
Their prep lab is awesome! Outside the lab you can see a giant pelvis of a Camarasaurus, while inside the lab preparation continues on arguably the world's best preserved series of Barosaurus cervical vertebrae. Rick Hunter, their staff paleontologist, is fantastic at finding, preparing, and explaining about fossils and is a true gem!!!
We spent 4 hours here and I feel I could have stayed a few hours more. I can't wait to go back!