A long-time friend of mine came to visit last week, and on one of those days we all made the drive out to Tennessee for a prehistoric-themed adventure.
First, we stopped at the more educational of our two destinations: Gray Fossil Site!
In 2000, construction workers stumbled upon very significant fossil discoveries in eastern TN. Many of the fossils dated back to the Miocene, 5 million years ago!
Back then, if you were to walk around Tennessee, you could see mastodons, ancient rhinos, tapirs, camels and even...
This ancient species of red panda was named the Bistol's Panda, after the town it was discovered in. Paleontologists are still actively working at the site.
Our next stop, while maybe not as scientifically valuable, is still very socially and culturally valuable.
Along winding, rural Tennessee roads dotted with homes, we find a tiny parking lot with a delightfully tacky entrance to
Backyard Terrors and Dinosaur Park!
Upon entering, I pull up a map of the park on my phone... and I am astounded to find out how large the property is. It's absolutely sprawling! This small team of dedicated hobbyists created life-sized, often dubiously accurate, dinosaur statues to fill this space. Admission is free, and their gift shop is run on the honor system. They operate entirely on donations.
There are a lot of dinosaur parks like this in the United States- it's almost a staple of Americana- but this one is special. It's the biggest one I've been to, and it's also the busiest. The child we saw crying because his family had to leave the park should tell you everything you need to know. This place rules!
Definitely check it out if you get the chance.