Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dinosaur National Monument



It was just a 66 mile drive from Flaming Gorge to Dinosaur National Monument, but it took over two hours due to the climb over an 8,400’ pass through almost zero visibility due to low clouds, rain and 20 mph switchbacks. I drove the Subaru ahead of Jim and was glad I did.

Our site in the Green River Campground on the Utah side of the park.


No hookups, no dump, but there are flush toilets and drinking water. We don’t normally like sites where you have to just pull off the road but this one is huge with no site across from it. $9 with Jim’s senior pass.


We visited Dinosaur National Monument in 2010 but the Quarry Exhibit Hall was being rebuilt so we didn’t get to see the displays. We remembered that we liked it here so wanted to return and check out the places we missed the first time.

Views of Split Mountain and red rock from our site.



The day we arrived we hiked a mile along the River Trail, which goes from the Green River campground to the Split Mountain group campground. Excellent views of the Green River, which is now red with mud from the recent heavy rains. In fact it rained during our first night and into the next morning.

Looking back over the campground where you can see more rain on its way.






Jim had to get to the highest point.


Since it was cold and rainy on Saturday we made the 20 mile drive to Vernal for laundry and grocery shopping, which seemed to take nearly all day. Nice little town with a decent laundromat.

On Sunday we went to the visitor center to check out the quarry.


You can see how it was constructed around this wall of rock.



The 150’ wall contains over 1,500 fossilized dinosaur bones. It is thought that a devastating volcanic/flood event carried the bones and deposited them here during the Jurassic Period, some 150 million years ago.



It was fascinating to see. The park ranger stationed there answered several of our questions.


Actually 5000 fossils have been discovered in this area but the rest are in collections all over the world, including at the Carnegie Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian.


But the dinosaur fossil exhibit is just a small part of this 210,844 acre park located in northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado. When we visited the first time we checked out the pictograph/petroglyph sites so we skipped that this time. We also drove to the Colorado side for the scenic views and a hike so this time we just hung around and hiked the trails closest to the campground.

Sounds of Silence trail, 3.3 miles made difficult by the fact that the heavy rains turned parts of it to mud and washed away some trail markers.







River trail to Desert Voices trail, a 6 mile loop right from the campground.




I was trying to test the water temperature but slipped in the mud. I didn’t realize Jim caught me in the act. Just happy I didn’t go into the river.


Green River float trips end here.









This was some of the most colorful hiking we’ve done in awhile. We enjoyed our second visit to Dinosaur National Monument as much as we did the first time. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.

Today we’re heading to Colorado National Monument for more red rock.


  1. Looks like you had some beautiful days for your hikes, really brings out the color in the rocks. It rained on our visit, but Vernal has a very nice museum where we spent some time.

  2. Very cool! DNM has been on my list for awhile. Love CO NM - such great stargazing.

  3. Love the views from your campsite. Great pictures of the river. We sure could use some of that rain here in the East. Well not the south east I guess but from Virginia north to New York and through New England. The colors on your River to Desert Trail are fantastic. Dinosaur National Monument has been on my list for a long time. Hope campground reservations aren't necessary during the week.

  4. That wall of dino fossils is Awesome! Bet it's nice to be back in red rock country.

  5. Sigh! I so miss all these beautiful rocks:) I am enjoying the west through my blog friends' eyes. We stay northwest of where you were in the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in the Lucerne Campground overlooking the Green River so our drive to DNM wa 90 miles. Oh, but it was so worth it. Going back a second time would be no problem. I would like to do a few hikes in that area. With our tour of the monument, hiking back down, doing the driving tour with all its stops, and hiking to the Moonshine Arch, we had a very long, full wonderful day that didn't allow for other hikes. Thanks for showing us a few of the hikes I read about. Your photos are gorgeous and the rocks are so colorful:) Love the zig zag formation the colors make. Yes, that is a red river for sure!

    1. Forgot to mention but the Fossil Discovery trail from the visitor center to the quarry was closed due to the heavy rains in the previous days so we walked the road. Luckily we hiked that trail on our first visit to the park. In fact, many of the dirt roads in the monument were closed or not recommended due to mud and wash-outs.

  6. One of our favorites National Parks. We've been twice too and can't wait to go again. It's fairly under-visited I think. We expected to see amazing dinosaur fossils but the scenery is what really hooked us.

  7. Our friends just left that area. They loved it.

    Beautiful sights along your hike. Jim, don't you know by now that you aren't suppose to catch your wife in a photo looking unladylike. Lol

    Amazing how bones don't disintegrate. What a cool place to learn about the earth's history.

  8. How exciting to be back in colorful country!

  9. I wanted to stop there on our way back to CO in July, but time was not in our favor. I love all the colorful rock and those dinosaur bones are intriguing. This NM remains on my list. Thanks for sharing!

  10. The colors are so vibrant—your photos are wonderful! This is definitely high on our list for our next swing through the southwest. Cool visitor center, and beautiful hiking (I'll pass on the red mud bath, though).

  11. Such a beautiful place, we can't wait to see it when we finally get to Utah. Love the gnarly tree along the trail and all the colorful hills.

  12. This looks like such a great place to hike. We really have to carve out some time to get there.