Most Michiganders born before 1999 have probably been to Prehistoric Forest, whether their parents took them, they took their own kids, or they went by themselves or friends for the heck of it.

Prehistoric Forest opened in 1963 as an additional roadside attraction on US-12 in the Irish Hills. You'd go into the souvenir shop, buy your tickets, and board the Safari Train that took you back into the forest where all the dinosaurs were.

The dinos were animatronic, made of fiberglass and styrofoam. As you rode by, the mouths would move while recorded growls came out. The arms would also move as if reaching for you. Scary? No...but it was cool at the time. By today's standards, these statues seem amateurish, but back in Prehistoric Forest's heyday, the children were fascinated.

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The only part I didn't care for was the lectures. The train ride was fun, but then they made us get out in the middle of the woods and listen to a guide talk about each dinosaur. Then we'd walk to the next one and get another lecture...and so on and so on. Thank goodness when it was over and we could get back on the train and leave. The train ride back was enjoyable, as we passed by different creatures and cavemen. Once back, we'd head into the souvenir shop to peruse the swag.

Beginning in the 1980s, thanks to video games, high-tech, and internet entertainment becoming more & more popular, customers began staying away. Other Irish Hills attractions began shutting down and eventually so did Prehistoric Forest sometime between 1999 and 2002.

Since closing, there have been a good many people trespassing and taking videos of the place...but most of those all look the same...except this one. Someone went in during winter of 2014 and captured images of the remaining dinos in the snow, which you can see in the gallery below.

In 2019, there was talk of the current landowner wanting to make an attempt to resurrect the park. So far, nothing.

Prehistoric Forest in Winter


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