Timberline Tours, Fossil Posse offer Dinosaur Discovery Rafting Adventure | VailDaily.com

Timberline Tours, Fossil Posse offer Dinosaur Discovery Rafting Adventure

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WOLCOTT — Local rafting outfitter Timberline Tours has teamed up with Fossil Posse to create a new outdoor adventure, with a prehistoric journey back through time. Timberline Tours' Dinosaur Discovery Rafting Adventure combines a river trip with the hands-on discovery of a dinosaur dig. Together, the two provide an opportunity for both outdoor fun and learning.

The day starts at the Fossil Posse Discovery Camp, located just west of Vail in Wolcott, and within sight of the Eagle River, with a morning of exploration and education at a replica of an actual dinosaur dig. The resident paleontologist teaches visitors about prehistoric Eagle County and the many creatures that walked, flew, swam and inhabited this area in the past 200 million years. Adventurers are then put to work in the Bone Quarry with life-size replicas of many dinosaurs — including the new tyrannosaurus rex, "Stu" — in the search for fossils that once lived in the area.

Following Ancient Footsteps

After lunch, participants are shuttled upstream to begin a scenic float on the Colorado River, where rafters get to explore real dinosaur tracks discovered in the shale cliffs adjacent to the river. The trip continues through the valley where the great dinosaurs once roamed more than 150 million years ago, home to red rock canyons, stands of pinion and juniper and expansive sage arroyos, all teeming with wildlife.

Fossil Posse and the Dinosaur Discovery Rafting Adventure are the brainchild of longtime local Billy Doran. While most locals were escaping the Vail Valley each mud season to pursue new and exotic adventures, Doran's idea of an offseason distraction was less inspired by finding the nearest post-season beach and more by his lifelong infatuation with all things dinosaur.

Imbued with a passion for adventure, exploration and discovery, Doran looked for ways to pursue those interests. He soon found himself working as a field volunteer alongside scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and National Geographic. As a part of this team, he was on hand for the discoveries of several caches of dinosaur fossils, including bones, teeth, claws and more.

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With an intense desire to share in these discoveries and cultivate that same passion with others, particularly children, Doran created Fossil Posse Prehistoric Journeys.

"We know that every child loves dinosaurs." Doran said. "Well, adults do, too. This camp has allowed me to share in this wonderful adventure and bring it to all of these other people who otherwise would never experience something like this."

The partnership with Doran seemed like a good match for Greg Kelchner, owner of Timberline Tours.

"Our guides have always enjoyed sharing their knowledge of the surrounding landscape with our guests, and after 45 years of providing rafting adventures in the region, this seemed like something so unique and such a great turn on the classic Colorado raft trip," Kelchner said. "After all, these dinosaurs are even older than me. They were here at the same time the river was forming."

"The only thing more exciting and fulfilling about finding a dinosaur is sharing in the excitement and reward that comes with that discovery," Doran said.

Timberline Tours' Dinosaur Discovery Rafting Adventure is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays and includes transportation, raft trip shuttle, lunch and the Fossil Posse Camp. Pickup is at 9 a.m., with return at approximately 3:30 p.m. Group trips can also be arranged.

For more information, call 970-476-1415 or visit timberlinetours.com. Learn more about Fossil Posse Discovery Camp and its programs at fossilposse.com or call 970-390-4381.

If you go …

What: Dinosaur Discovery Rafting Adventure.

When: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Where: Fossil Posse Discovery Camp, 100 Yacht Club Drive, Wolcott.

Cost: $139 per person, plus an 8 percent land-use fee, includes transportation, rafting, lunch and Fossil Posse dig.

More information: Call Timberline Tours at 970-476-1415 or visit timberlinetours.com.