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Meet Us On Alameda -- Dinosaur Ridge

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From Red Rocks to the big white balls of Buckley Air Force Base, Alameda Avenue runs through Lakewood, Denver and Aurora, collecting a series of religious, cultural and ethnic hubs along the way.

Westword drove Alameda from one end to another for the fifth in our ocassional profiles of metro Denver roads. Our feature story can be found here. (Our previous journeys took on Broadway, Colfax, Federal and Sheridan.) The following is a Web-only extra.

At least three more installments over the next few days will have you going our way.

Dinosaur Ridge 16831 West Alameda Parkway, Morrison 4:40 p.m.

It’s almost closing time at the Dinosaur Ridge Visitor Center; the only person inside the gift shop and educational center is getting ready to shut the doors.

Outside, a sprinkling of rain splashes on several Stegosaurus sculptures, each painted according to a different theme: one, clearly painted by Girl Scouts, features the organization’s famous cookies along each ridged spinal scale -- Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, Samoas, Trefoils; another, with a jaunty top hat, is apparently the dinosaur version of Uncle Sam, painted in red, white and blue; yet another is a jumble of rainbow colors.

Inside, there are gifts for the dinosaur lover on anybody’s list. Books on fossils and the excavation process line shelves, as do dinosaur replicas of every shape, size and material -- rubber and plastic and plush and even carved stone. Molds of the fossils gracing the hill farther up Alameda cost $25; there are also smaller fossils available, as well as chunks of amethyst, crystal and other semi-precious gems. There are even tennis shoes emblazoned with dinosaurs lining the walls.

It’s still raining gently outside, and the road up to the actual dinosaur footprints alongside Alameda is closed, so a few tourists trek their way up on foot to gaze at the array of footprints left millions of years ago by an assortment of giant lizards. They linger for several minutes, snapping pictures and discussing the prints in loud tones before heading back to the shelter of their vehicles. -- Amber Taufen

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