This place is amazing…and it’s one of those things that is close to Dallas, and yet no one seems to know about it!
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is located in Glen Rose, which is about two hours south of Dallas (it took us almost two hours to get there from Wylie, and in very rainy weather, but only about an hour and a half to get back to Dallas). Unlike a typical zoo, you actually get to drive through Fossil Rim…cruising right past the animals in their natural habitat. And even better, you can feed them!
I’ve been to Fossil Rim three times now, but this was the first time I’ve been with kids. I wanted to wait until they were old enough to enjoy it (and old enough to sit through the car ride, because you can’t just pull over and get out amidst the zebras and emus, you know?).
It happened to be pouring rain on the day we visited. This actually worked to our advantage, as hardly anyone was there. One of my concerns had been whether or not Claire would be happy for the long ride. The route is about ten miles long and the speed limit is 15 MPH – my first two trips (pre-kids, remember) were leisurely cruises through the park with a relaxing break at the lookout point/cafe (that you’ll find halfway through the drive) that spanned the course of three hours or so.
Thanks to the inclement weather, we skated through the entire park in about an hour (we decided not to stop at the halfway point, even though they have a great cafe, a petting zoo for the kids, and some *stunning* views – you will forget you are in Texas when you peer out over the miles of rolling hills, dotted with okapi and zebras!). Unless it’s pouring, though, it’s safe to assume it’s going to take you a couple of hours to see everything – so keep this in mind if you have small children who aren’t too keen on being cooped up in the car.
When you purchase your tickets (which are half price if you’re an annual passholder at the Dallas Zoo!), you can also buy a sizable bag of animal pellets. The animals will come right up to your car looking for goodies – you’re supposed to drop the food onto the ground, but you are allowed to hand-feed the giraffes (ohhhhhh, this is SO awesome…totally worth it just to feed the giraffes, although there is no guarantee they’ll be interested in socializing while you’re there).
The kids loved it. They squealed with delight as the gazelles ran past us and cheered when the Elk found the pellet we’d tossed on the ground for him to eat.
If you have really little ones, you might wait until they’re in forward-facing car seats so they can actually enjoy the animals! Also, if you decide to go, leave your pets at home…no dogs allowed.
The town of Glen Rose, where Fossil Rim is located, is perfect for a weekend family getaway. We actually drove down Saturday morning and stayed overnight. There are lots of family-friendly activities in the area.
We stayed at the Country Woods Inn (don’t let the outdated website fool you, this place is great!). We got to sleep in an old farmhouse and feed all of the farm animals, and we even had Sunday breakfast in the barn. There was yummy food, coloring books and crayons for the kids, and a friendly horse who kept poking his head over the stall door to see if we had any treats for him.
Also nearby are Dinosaur World (with life-size dinosaur replicas) and Dinosaur Valley State Park (which has real dinosaur footprints the kids can walk in – and was the original reason for this whole weekend getaway, and which we never got to visit because it was just too darn wet). There are also lots of great local places to eat – for dinner, we had burgers at Hollywood and Vine, and they were excellent!
I hope you are able to make the trip to Glen Rose to visit Fossil Rim at least once…you will be so glad you did.