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Spotlight: Explore Dinosaur National Monument

Spotlight: Explore Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur fossils and plenty of them!

Dinosaur National Park Dr. Dan Chure at Fossil Wall with an Apatosaurus claw visible behind his right knee (NPS)

“Its walls and cliffs, its peaks and crags, its amphitheaters and alcoves, tell a story of beauty and grandeur that I hear yet.” John Wesley Powell, Exploration of the Colorado River, 1895

What You’ll Find

Still encased in the rock at the Quarry Exhibit Hall are 1,500 bones of creatures like Apatosaurus, Allosaurus and Diplodocus – just to name a few – that roamed this land 149 million years ago. Covering over 210,000 acres across two states, Dinosaur National Monument provides dramatic scenery and a lifetime of exploration. Fremont petroglyphs and pictographs, historic homesteads and ranches reveal chapters of the area’s long chronicle of human habitation. Rafting the wild canyons on the Green and Yampa Rivers provides moments of exhilaration intertwined with periods of solitude and relaxation.

Watch for wildlife too, including some you might not expect in this desert environment. Mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn and golden eagles are commonly spotted. Black bears, mountain lions, moose and river otters also make this area their home.

Getting There

Dinosaur National Monument expands into Colorado and Utah with dinosaur fossils viewable only in the Utah side. Start at the Quarry Visitor Center. To get there, check the monument website for a map and driving directions. Discover more about the Colorado side and its remote river canyons and dramatic scenery with a stop at the Canyon Visitor Center.

Important note to users of GPS devices or map databases such as Google Maps™: If you type Dinosaur National Monument into the search function of your device or website, the destination result will be monument headquarters located near Dinosaur, Colorado.

Stay Here

Nearby communities of Vernal, Utah; Dinosaur, Colorado; and Rangely, Colorado, have lodging options. Visit the Dinosaurland (Uintah County) Travel and Tourism website for lodging in the Vernal area or the Colorado Welcome Center website for lodging in the Dinosaur/Rangely area.

Prefer the crackling of a campfire and sleeping under the stars? There are six campgrounds with a total of 110 sites to choose from. The Green River Campground offers advance reservations and is located along the banks of the Green River, closest to the Quarry Visitor Center and Exhibit Hall. If you have a large group, reserve a site at nearby Split Mountain Group Campground. All other campgrounds in the monument are first-come, first-served. Nearby, Ashley National Forest offers reservable campsites, cabins and even yurts.

Make Sure You

Spend some extra time and see what the monument offers beyond the dinosaur bones. Take a hike on the Sound of Silence Trail or the Hog Canyon Trail. Go on a one-day raft trip on the Green River though Split Mountain Canyon. Drive the Harpers Corner Road and gaze at the views over the canyons of the Green and Yampa Rivers. Ponder the petroglyphs along the Cub Creek Road.

Try This

Want to feel like a paleontologist? Take a hike on the Fossil Discovery Trail and discover fossils naturally eroding out of the rock.

Star gaze in the field just south of Josie’s cabin and find all the stars you have never seen before – Dinosaur’s night skies are some of the darkest in the United States.

Continue on to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area along the Flaming Gorge - Uinta National Scenic Byway.

Don’t Forget

Weather in the summer can be hot – temperatures are often in the upper 90s to over 100°F, but nights can still cool to the 60s. Make sure to wear sunscreen and a hat and drink plenty of water. Winters are frigid, but can still be beautiful.

Fees at Work

Your entrance and camping fees help support important visitor projects at Dinosaur National Monument, including the park’s “dinosaur train” (free park shuttle bus) that significantly reduces traffic on the road between the Quarry Visitor Center and the Quarry Exhibit Hall, where you’ll also enjoy the new displays funded with fee dollars.

Get Started!

Visit www.nps.gov/dino or call (435) 781-7700 for more information.

Did You Know?

While excavations no longer occur at the quarry, paleontological research continues elsewhere in the park, often with exciting new discoveries.