The Epitome of Prehistoric Kitsch is in the California Desert

Driving an unbeautiful stretch of freeway between LA and my destination of Scottsdale, Arizona, I shrieked into my empty car. A 150-foot-long, Pepto-pink apatosaurus rose up before me. The Cabazon Dinosaurs—the holy grail of kitschy roadside attractions—were seared into my brain from that moment on. I couldn’t stop that day. I had to return for my Jurassic moment.

During an unseasonably chilly spell in LA this October, I headed out to the desert on a hunt for bizarre dinos. I wrote about my prehistoric experience in this article for SFGate.

Inside this tiny theme park attraction, there are hundreds of replica dinosaurs. The biggest ones, you can actually go inside. Dinny the Dinosaur is home to a gift shop, but if you make it past him, and through a winding, faux-dinosaur-filled path, you’ve made it to Mr. Rex, where the real experience begins. 

I’m not going to lie: The inside of that dinosaur was a little gross. 

As you ascend the flights of stairs, you’re surrounded by what I can only describe as “guts-colored red” walls, with a mottled texture that really does evoke the feeling of being inside a carcass. Once you get to the neck, there’s a narrow, circular staircase into his head. There, you’re rewarded with a fearsome view of Mr. Rex’s teeth all around you, with Dinny the Dinosaur beyond, and palm trees and desert as far as you can see. It is only then that you truly know what it feels like to be inside a 65-foot concrete sculpture of a dinosaur dressed as Fred Flintstone, a seasonal paint job for Halloween.

I’m not sure I need to explore the Dinosaur Park again for a year or two, but I do know one thing: every single time I’m driving through Cabazon from now on, I’m going to stop and take a photo with Mr. Rex, if only to see how he’s dressed that day.

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