To understand Paleo Park one must start at the beginning. Paleo Park resides on the Zerbst Ranch in the heart of the Lance Formation in Niobrara County Wyoming. The ranch was homesteaded by Charles Zerbst in the late 1800's. In the early 1900's the dinosaur craze had hit the area. Many famous Paleontologists of the era laid their hat down more than once in the area to look for dinosaurs. The ranch was passed down to Bill Zerbst, son of Charles. Many dinosaurs were still being found throughout the years. The majority of the dinosaur species were Triceratops, Edmontosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, Nano tyrannosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Struthiomimus and Dromeosaurus just to name a few.
The ranch was then passed down to Leonard Zerbst, son of Bill. Many more Universities and Paleontologists were starting to come to the ranch looking for more unique and rare dinosaurs. Leonard and is wife, Arlene, would welcome all and would go out and help look for the bones. Leonard and Arlene had two children, Tom and Kris. Being the 4th generation on the ranch, dinosaurs were a common site as well were Paleontologists of all ages. Leonard and Arlene loved to show people the dinosaur bones that they had found over the years and take people out to try to find more. With dinosaur excitement continuing to grow Leonard and Arlene decided to build a lodge on their ranch to house the bones that they have found as well as provide lodging for guests to come out and stay awhile with us, hence Paleopark was born! They both loved to see that look of excitement and awe in a person when they were the first person in the world to pick up that random bone on the ground.
Leonard and Arlene decided it would be their mission to find a complete dinosaur to name after each of their grandchildren. One day while they were prospecting they cam across some dinosaur bones and started poking around. They found that the bone kept going into the ground (in Paleo World.. this is a great sign of something). They ended up finding their first dinosaur to name after their first Grandchild, Kelsey, Tom's daughter. Kelsey ended up being a Triceratops which was very complete. After Kelsey was prepped and set for display, she ventured to her new home in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Children's Museum. The excitement grew about what else was out there hiding in the ground peeking out between the sagebrush and yucca. Then one day they happened upon the second dinosaur to name after their 2nd Grandchild, Lane, Tom's son. Lane joined the family as another Triceratops. Although Lane had one quality Kelsey did not. Lane had skin impressions...and quite a bit of it. The skin is amazing and is a must see for everyone young and old. With the find of Lane we have a whole new perception of what a Triceratops actually looked like.
During all of the excitement of the digs, Leonard received news that would forever alter the ranch and Paleo Park. Leonard was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 1999. The Paleo Park lodge was right in the middle of being built, but that didn't hold back the dream. Leonard passed away in May of 2000 and Paleo Park officially opened their doors in July of 2000. His daughter Kris and her husband Chad helped Arlene with the ranch and Paleo Park. Hundreds of people have walked through the doors of Paleo over the years. All have allowed the Paleo team to capture their imagination and let it run wild. Kris has two children, Wyatt and Jaden. They both, like their Mom, grew up around dinosaur bones. Wyatt was just a baby when Triceratops Lane came of out the ground. A picture of him eating the dirt laying around Lane still has a spot of the Paleo Park fridge. Wyatt and Jaden developed a keen eye for the bones and absorbed all the information the paleontologists who would tell them as they wondered through. Wyatt and Jaden quickly turned into tour guides for folks wanting the two-hour tour and a chance to find some crazy bone. With Wyatt graduated from college and a full-time job of his own, he isn't able to guide many tours these days. That leaves the tours up to Jaden and Kris. They are still looking for "their" dinosaur. Will you be the one to help find it? Join the gang and finding a treasure or two.