Dinosaurs in the Desert

For years, as I’ve driven between my home in Rancho Mirage and the City of Los Angeles, I’ve noticed these two hulking creatures hunkering down next to the I-10 near the Morongo Casino’s high-rise just west of the Palm Springs Valley.  It wasn’t until recently that I finally veered off the highway and stopped to see what they were all about.  And boy, was I surprised by what I saw.

I drove into the parking lot located in Cabazon right up the road from the shopping outlets, I came face to face with “World’s Biggest Dinosaurs,” as the attraction is officially titled.  A mammoth replica of an apatosaurus—formerly known as a brontosaurus, I’m told—is actually a huge gift shop…or, more accurately, a toyshop.   Walking into the tail and up a staircase into “Dinny,” this place is all dinosaurs all the time.  You’ll find every manner of stuffed and molded paleontological plaything, including a vast variety of games and trinkets.

The property also sports a dinosaur museum replete with a collection of mechanical beasts, and an outdoor garden of life-sized dinos.  No doubt the highlight for most will be a visit to the four-story imitation of one of the most ferocious dinosaurs on record, the tyrannosaurus rex.  Climb inside this behemoth and take a gander at the nearby San Jacinto Mountains through the teeth of “Mr. Rex.”  I’m told this baby took over seven years to build.

If you’re thinking these creatures look familiar, as I did, you may have seen them in the movie “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.”  Or, like me and the 12 million others who drive on this stretch of the freeway every year, you may have seen them over the past 30 years and it just didn’t register what they were exactly.  Take the kids—or anyone with a penchant for big beasts.  This place is seriously kitchy cool.