WOODLAND PARK — In our exclusive series Adventures with Alan, we'll travel across Southern Colorado week-by-week to show you thrills and chills, hidden gems and well-known spots.
This week, our adventures take us to Woodland Park to walk the halls of the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center.
The museum is home to an impressive collection of dinosaurs, prehistoric marine replies, and fish from North America's late Cretaceous period.
Floor Supervisor Eric Goderis takes us on a tour.
We begin in the Prehistoric Ocean exhibit.
Here we're surrounded by ferocious fish and marine reptiles large enough to swallow a person whole!
Some displays are downright scary, others enchanting, but thanks to Goderis...all come with some incredible stories.
Mildred for example, is the largest xiphactinus ever found. Dug up in Kansas, she's 18.5 feet long.
It took three years to put together her display.
Up next...we head into Dinosaur Hall, which features dozens and dozens of original fossils and replicas, like Stan the T-Rex.
Although Stan serves as the centerpiece for Dinosaur Hall, that just scratches the surface of what the museum has to offer.
"We've got pretty much everything covered. Big ones, small ones, whatever you can imagine...we've probably got some sort of an example of it on display here," said Goderis.
The museum is also home to the largest commercial paleontology lab in the country.
Every summer, the lab's Operation Manager Jacob Jet and his team go on digs and bring those bones back to Woodland Park.
Jett give us a behind-the-scenes tour of the lab so that we can show you some of the incredible work they do.
"This is like a 25 foot lizard that lived entirely in the ocean. We found it in Kansas two summers ago," said Jett.
Known as a Tylosaurus, Jett's team has been working on putting it together for about eight months.
He expects to have it done within the next few weeks.
The lab also builds cast parts and skeletons for other museums and universities.
"Our work is on display in about 300 museums around the world. If you see a three-dimensional cast fish skeleton, we built it. We're literally the only people on the planet who are crazy enough to go to that kind of effort," said Jett.
Jett and the museum's Curator Anthony Maltese are incredibly passionate about their work.
An absolute "wow" moment for me is when they show us different types of dinosaur fossils.
At this point, we're even given the opportunity to touch a real life T-Rex tooth. Unbelievable!
The fossil lab is the backbone of the museum, and even though visitors can't access the lab, they can see it through several large windows.
You can learn more about the lab by taking a free-guided tour on your next visit.
"As of right now in the wintertime, tours are on request. Come in, ask for a tour, and we're gonna start it right then and there," said Goderis.
The tour takes about 45 minutes to an hour, and you'll learn everything that's going on at the museum. I highly recommend it!
For more information about the Dinosaur Resource Center, visit their website, Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center.