Drive The Scenic Back Roads
The Tour of the Tilted Rocks is an excellent introduction to the many facets of Dinosaur National Monument. Many visitors tour the quarry first and then drive this short auto tour . The tour leaves the visitor center and leads to ancient rock art, hiking trails, rock formations, excellent views of the Green River, and the Josie Bassett cabin built by one of the areas most notorious cowgirls.
The Island/Rainbow Park Road leads to McKee Spring petroglyphs, Rainbow Park, Island Park, Ruple Ranch, and the petrified sand dunes. Check with rangers or with park personnel at the visitor centers about road conditions, and keep an eye on the weather forecasts yourself. Following rain, this road may be impassable. From the dinosaur quarry to roads end , the trip is about 31.5 miles one-way. There are no services on this road.
Another recommended side trip is the Jones Hole Scenic Backway. The drive traverses a variety of local ecosystems, from desert sagebrush to alpine aspen grove, before dropping into a narrow canyon at Jones Hole, where an important national fish hatchery supplies trout for Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, and also the trailhead for the Jones Hole Trail. The Jones Hole Scenic Backway is one of the few fully paved scenic backways in the state. Be aware that the road is narrow, however, and may be difficult in winter conditions.
Hiking At Dinosaur National Monument
If youre visiting Dinosaur National Monument in the summer, finding a good hike is not easy. Of course, that is really only because hiking in the summer heat in the desert can be tricky. Near the Josie Morris Cabin, youll find two good options that can both be enjoyed on a hot and sunny day.
Both the Box Canyon and Hog Canyon trails leave from the small parking area at the cabin and take you into a box canyon. A box canyon is a canyon that is surrounded on three sides by canyon walls with only one entrance and exit. Josie Morris used both of these box canyons to keep livestock.
The Box Canyon trail is the shorter of the two, at only 0.5-miles round trip. The vast majority of the trail is shaded and it is perfect for those with limited time. There also is very little elevation gain, though the trail is uneven and rocky in places.
The Hog Canyon trail is about 1.3-miles roundtrip and offers a wider variety of scenery as it passes through some open grassland before heading into a different box canyon. Much of the trail is shaded, but you will find some open and sunny areas. It also has slightly more elevation gain than the Box Canyon Trail, though it is still a relatively easy hike.
We enjoyed both hikes but I dont know that doing both of them is completely necessary. Choose whichever one is best for you and your preferences.
Town Place Suites Varna
Town Place Suites, Vernal One of the most beautiful and trendy hotels in Utah. It is located in the Uinta Basin with easy access to Highway 40. The hotel offers affordable comfort just 20 minutes from Dinosaur National Monument, and is also close to Salt Lake City.
TownePlace Suites is an ultra modern, spacious and comfortable place to stay during your visit to Utah. Excellent service and comfortable rooms that provide a comfortable stay. Lastly, dont forget your swimwear an amazing indoor pool awaits you at this Utah hotel. You can never go wrong with a Marriott stay.
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Getting To Dinosaur National Monument
Take Hwy. 40 east from Dinosaur for 2 miles to get to Dinosaur National Monuments Canyon Area Visitor Center . Pass the park headquarters building and follow Harpers Corner Road for approximately 31 miles where the road ends. Access the walking trail. Hike for about .5 miles to Steamboat Rock, which offers a beautiful view where the Green and Yampa rivers converge.
Camping Near Dinosaur National Monument
While camping within the confines of Dinosaur National Monument is a remarkable and unrivaled experience, there are many reasons why you might seek out one of the developed campgrounds in the nearby area. Considering there are no hookups nor dump stations at any of the campgrounds inside the Monument, RVs may prefer to set up camp in one of the more accommodating sites nearby. Additionally, the campgrounds listed in this section provide a great place to stay before or after your trip to Dinosaur National Monument, as they give you more convenient access to services, supplies, and major roadways.
If youre looking to check out any of the other Colorado National Parks or National Monuments, but sure to take a look at our other camping guides below:
Located about 40 minutes north of Vernal, Ashley National Forest has a wide range of options to suit all types of campers. RVs are welcome at many of the numerous campgrounds in Ashley National Forest, although the Lodgepole Campground is the best option given its the only one with a dump station that gives easy proximity to Dinosaur. Beyond traditional developed campgrounds, there are also options for cabin rentals and dispersed camping.
Amenities include picnic tables, firepits, flush toilets, trash collection, and boat rentals.
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Things To Do At Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaurs once roamed throughout Dinosaur National Monument. In fact, many of the best museum pieces from around the world have been excavated from in and around the Monument.
Currently, 11 species of dinosaurs have been found in Dinosaurs famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry including stegosaurus, diplodocus, and allosaurus. A tour of the park allows visitors to experience what life may have felt like 150 million years ago.
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As They Are: Exploring The National Parks
I have long wanted to visit Dinosaur National Monument.
The Monument, straddling the Colorado-Utah border, should be a National Park. By any conceivable metric, it more than deserves such a designation. At 210,844 acres, it is larger than thirty-one of the sixty-three Parks . Far more importantly, though, it contains three fundamental reasons for existingany of which would warrant Park statusthat make it important to history, science, and conservation. First, the Monument contains a world-important deposit of Jurassic-era dinosaurs: Stegosaurus, Diplodocus, Apatosaurus, Allosaurus. Specimens from major museums across North America came from here. Second, the Monument protects important cultural sites, including many pictographs and petroglyphs made by the Fremont peoples one thousand years ago. And finally, there is the landscape itself. Here, the Green and Yampa Rivers cut through the eastern edge of the Uinta Mountains, creating a dramatic canyon country of more varied hues than the redrock landscapes of Arches and Canyonlands to the south.
Perhaps its lingering resentment over Echo Park. It could be local resistance in Utah to public lands protection . It could simply be its remoteness. Whatever the reason, Dinosaur has never been upgraded by Congress despite being for decades on short lists of NPS units most likely to become National Parks.
We couldnt help but pull over at the overlook above the campground, the Green River, and Split Mountain to take it all in .
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How Much Does Dinosaur National Monument Cost
The cost of visiting Dinosaur National Monument varies depending on the vehicle you use to enter or if you park outside the monument area and walk-in on foot. The rates are as follows:
Private Vehicles = $25
Walk-in Visitors = $15
Motorcyclists = $20
You can also purchase an Annual Monument Pass for $45, which allows you to enter as often as youd like during the year.
The Quarry Visitor Center Area
The main reason for visiting the Utah section of the Dinosaur National Monument is, as mentioned above, to see the dinosaur fossils preserved in the Dinosaur National Monument Quarry Exhibit Hall. However, there is more to discover here. There are a number of scenic drives along which you can find trails, observation points, and archaeological sites.
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Springhill Suites By Marriott Vernal
Private Rentals For A Secluded Camping Getaway Near Dinosaur National Monument Colorado
Wondering which U.S. states host Dinosaur National Monument? Dinosaur National Monument is located southeast of the Uinta Mountains at the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers in Colorado. Dinosaur remains can be seen embedded in the rocks of its deep canyons, as well as petroglyphs of ancient cultures. There are many things to do in the Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado: hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback-riding are amazing opportunities to learn about the history of these iconic sites. However, there are more recreation and educational opportunities like the free paleontology programs for kids it offers. It is an ideal destination for a family vacation, children will love Dinosaur National Monument! Camping near Dinosaur National Monumenopportunities are also available to make the experience extra special.
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In The National Monument
There is no lodging inside Dinosaur National Monument, but the park does offer six campgrounds accessible by roads.
On the parks east side, Gates of Lodore Campground is near CO-318 on the northern border of the monument. Deerlodge Park Campground can be accessed from Dinosaur Park Road east of Elk Springs. Both campgrounds are open year round, though the roads can become impassable in winter.
On the parks more developed west side, youll find the year round Split Mountain Campground and the seasonal Green River Campground near the Quarry Visitor Center, accessed off of CO-149 in Jensen. The Rainbow Park Campground has no water available and may be impassable in the winter. It is also accessed via Jensen.
Echo Park Campground lies in the heart of the monument and can be accessed from Harpers Corner Road near Dinosaur. The road may be impassable in winter, though the campground is open year round.
Guide To Exploring Dinosaur National Monument
One of the most remote parts of Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument is along the area of the country famous for its fossils. I was shocked to learn that the majority of dinosaur fossils, including many of the famous big ones are from the US across much of the mountain region. Much of these areas were part of a great sea that covered the land and preserved so many of these fossils. Dinosaur National Monument is particular exciting, in that there are places you can actually see fossils, where that is lacking in many of the other fossil monuments.
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Recommended Hotels Near Dinosaur National Monument
Springhill Suites by Marriott Vernal Modern Dinosaur lodging with indoor pool and hot tub
The Utah hotel also has modern rooms and great amenities, including indoor pool and hot tub. Marriott in Vernal is one of the very best places to stay near Dinosaur National Monument if you want the whole package.
Dinosaur Inn Classic Dinosaur accommodation with outdoor swimming pool in Downtown Vernal
Dinosaur Inn is a classic place to stay when visiting Dinosaur National Monument. Its location in Downtown Vernal is extremely convenient just steps from restaurants and Utah Field House of Natural History State Museum.
As a bonus Dinosaur Inn also provides a seasonal outdoor swimming pool for its guests to use. If you prefer something else than the big hotel chains, the inn near Dinosaur National Monument is an excellent choice.
Reservations For Dinosaur Quarry No Longer Needed
Visitors to the Dinosaur National Monument Quarry exhibit have been required to make advance reservations for the past year. This restriction has been lifted and travelers are no longer confined to a strict time frame for visiting. This change will allow the full discovery of the many other attractions along the path to the Quarry. When taking in the Canyon Country and Harpers corner Drive just north of the town of Dinosaur, Colorado take some extra time to really explore the entire monument. The views from the overlooks are simply spectacular.
The Quarry hours are from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with the heaviest visitation during the middle of the day. Enjoy a quiet morning or evening in the remote regions of the monument and see the Quarry at a time that best suits YOU!
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More Tips For Your Visit:
- In order to see dinosaur fossils, remember that you must head to the Utah side of the monument.
- Access to the Utah section of Dinosaur National Monument is off Highway 40, about 6 miles north of Jensen, Utah.
- During the peak season, the FREE shuttle that connects the visitor center with the Quarry Exhibit Hall runs about every 15 minutes between 8:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m. Its a short fun ride . In the off-season, you can drive up to the Quarry Exhibit Hall in your own vehicle.
- Check the monuments website for more information about the operating hours, updates, and closures.
- No services are available in Dinosaur National Monument. The closest towns are Jensen, Utah and Vernal, Utah .
Take A Whitewater Rafting Trip
The rivers located in Dinosaur National Monument, the Yampa, and the Green, are the chief tributaries of the Colorado River. Together, these rivers provide an exciting opportunity for rafters to sightsee and enjoy whitewater adventure.
Both rivers feature class III and IV rapids. However, the Green River includes classics like Triplet Falls, Hells Half Mile, and Disaster Falls. Dinosaur River Expeditions offers both single and multi-day trips.
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Visit The Quarry Exhibit Hall
Located on the Utah side, the Quarry Exhibit Hall is probably the highlight of any visit to the Dinosaur National Monument. The Hall is located on the exact site where dinosaur fossils were first unearthed in 1909.
The main exhibit is the 80-foot long Wall of Bones. This impressive display is made up of more than 1,500 fossils, all embedded in the rock formation where the animal died millions of years ago. An overview of the massive display takes place on the upper level and a closer perspective is provided on the lower levelthis is where you can actually touch a few of the bones.
Where To Stay For Dinosaur National Monument
ps I also posted this in the CO forum.
Vernal Utah is the usual choice for Dinosaur.NM.
There are several entrances to the park. The main entrance is closest to Vernal. It is also the largest town with the most services. It is also where you’ll find the State Field House Museum, which is an important addition to the dinosaur wall. It is at the museum that you find what has been extracted from the monument.
Another great spot for the monument is Harpers Corner. The entrance to that is in Dinosaur Colorado, but you wouldn’t really want to stay there.
On a short visit those are the two places I would recommend.
Be sure to stop at the store in Maybell on your way to Steamboat.
Agree with Kbecjeans. The Harper’s Corner Road is great on the CO side of Dinosaur NM. There are some excellent overlooks along the road worth stopping at, but the highlight is the 2.5 mi. RT hike at the end of the road on the Harper’s Corner trail to a fabulous peninsula overlooking sweeping views of the rivers below in 3 directions. Probably the most worth doing short hike in the park if you have the time.
Vernal has tons of places to stay from your standard chain motels to mom and pop places.
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Camp In A Starry Dino Graveyard
While there are countless camping options in the region, the park itself has six campgrounds with roughly 120 sites. Prices vary based on the season as well as the availability of water.
The Green River Campgroundfittingly located on the lush banks of the Green Riveris a popular option, being closest to the Quarry. Its also near the Split Mountain Boat Ramp, where rafters disembark after trips through the parks winding, majestic canyons. If you want to stay closer to the rafting launch point, the Gates of Lodore Campground is located near the northern launch sites.
Another popular option is the Echo Park Campground right at the center of the park, where youll enjoy stunning views of the iconic Steamboat Rock. Its also close to the Fremont petroglyphs.
Rainbow Park And Island Park
These parks are located in the northwestern corner of Dinosaur National Monument. Youll want to stop by this section if you are interested in viewing the Fremont petroglyphs. Its amazing to see art made by humans that has been preserved for so long! It makes you wonder what it was like to live in this area back when they were here.
These parks have some camping and picnic areas available amid the more scenic part of Dinosaurland. Deer and other animals can often be seen here.
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