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General Information

A view of the white sandstone crown of Split Mountain from high above the Green River
Copyright: - US National Park Service
A view of the white sandstone crown of Split Mountain from high above the Green River
Description - As you explore the craggy hills, discover fragments of a long ago world where the largest land creatures of all time once roamed and died. While the main exhibit wall of dinosaur fossils is closed, some fossils can be seen by hiking ½ mile from the Temporary Visitor Center. You can also view rock art and captivating scenery, explore homestead sites, and go whitewater rafting.

Attractions - The Dinosaur Quarry serves as the area's museum, the building encloses the fossil-bearing rock layer. Over 1,600 dinosaur bones have been uncovered and left in place to form a permanent exhibit. A self guided nature trail and auto tour route allow you to learn more about the geology, flora, and fauna of the area at your leisure.

The Green and Yampah Rivers, which carved these dramatic canyons, provide a major attraction either from the water , by way of raft, or from above viewing their scenic meandering.

Recreation - It is said that floating the rivers offers the most intimate look at Dinosaur's canyon's, geology, and wildlife. The white water varies depending on river flows. One day trips can be taken on short notice but longer trips require advance planning.

Hiking is also a great way to see the area's rich colors and rugged topography. Trails range from short self-guided interpretive walks to backcountry trips. Bicycling is limited to roadways. A scenic drive offers an easy and quick way to see the canyon country surrounding the rivers.

Climate - The day-to-day weather conditions are highly variable at Dinosaur National Monument. They change not only with the season, but with time of day and where you are. Elevations within the park vary between 4500 and 9000 feet. Thus, a hot summer day at the Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center can be pleasantly cool at Harpers Corner, which is at a higher elevation. Storms often cause heavy downpours and localized flooding while failing to dampen parched soils less than a mile away.

Location - Dinosaur National Monument is located in northwest Colorado and northeast Utah, straddling the border of these states. About two-thirds of the park is in Colorado. Dinosaur is 210,000 acres in size; plenty of room for you to find solitude, magnificent scenery, hike a wild landscape, and renew your relationship with nature.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Katey Buster (Aspen, CO)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: On October 11th, 2009, I headed out of Aspen for Dinosaur National Monument near Rangely, Colorado. I felt a keen sense of excitement and anticipation as I was heading for somewhere I’ve never been. In about three hours I breezed through Rangely and in another half hour made it to the Canyon Area Visitor’s Center near Dinosaur, Colorado. I had been passing big and gaudy plastic statues of those prehistoric beasts for awhile and was glad to get out of the car and talk to a ranger about where I might camp that night. I had been eyeing Echo Park on the map, a campground in the middle of nowhere, it seemed….primitive camping for sure. I watched a short film on the park and was then eager to get going as it was getting on toward late afternoon. After driving about 30 miles of paved road that took me into the heart of the Monument, I turned onto a 12 mile dirt road, high clearance only. Down and down I went around curves until I found myself in an awesome canyon, riding my car through it instead of hiking! I finally arrived to a beautiful , serene area full of colorful boxelders and cottonwoods…this was Echo Park! I had read that this was where the Green River from the Wind River Range in Wyoming meets up with the Yampa River, flowing through Colorado. There were only two other parties in the campground, thus creating a primitive and quiet experience. I needed to stretch my legs and so I walked near the shore of the Green River, eyeing about five Mule Deer stags with elegant racks….and lo and behold, very near them were a herd of about a dozen Bighorn Sheep! I sat watching those lovely wild animals in the setting sun. The next morning I awoke after a totally peaceful night with a sky full of stars visible through my sunroof. I decided to hike up some sandstone monoliths above the Green River to a place called Mitten Park. The trail was a bit treacherous in places but all my years of climbing had given me the experience to negotiate the boulders. I was enjoying a lovely morning with nothing but scenic vistas encircling me. After a few hours I returned to the campground and explored another trail taking me to the confluence of the two rivers whereupon I again saw the herd of Mountain Sheep and their young right in front of me! They were definitely not afraid of man as this was a place protected from hunting. Getting back into my SUV, I headed out and back up the almost 2000 feet of winding dirt road to the paved park road and drove to Harpers Corner Trail….a narrow spit of land reaching out over the vertical geology of the canyons and it was a delight to hike. I looked down upon Echo Park ( where I had just come from ) as well as upon incredible vistas of the Green and the Yampa way in the distance before they converged into one river. I thought to myself that even the Grand Canyon did not have a trail such as this….a ‘highway in the sky’, so to speak. Needing a campsite for the night, I drove back out of the park, past the Visitor’s Center , and headed up to another part of the park near Jensen, Utah. This National Monument is split between two states, Colorado and Utah. When I neared the Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center, I stared at the cornfields I was passing for there were hundreds of Sandhill Cranes feeding in the fields. Wow, I had always wanted to see their migration and never imagined I would see them in Utah! They were making quite a racquet and other cars were pulling up to look at them. It was a real Kodak moment in the approaching twilight. Moving on into the Monument I realized I had better find a campground before dark. I turned a corner in the road and pulled off above ‘Split Mountain Campground’ and what a sight met my eyes! The sun was setting on the Green River and the foliage of the Cottonwoods was shimmering in the afternoon light…..and I had thought last night’s campground was awesome….this one was set against a huge, segmented white rock formation known as Split Mountain. Way cool. After another very peaceful night with few campers around me, the day dawned clear and bright, and I headed to the Dinosaur Quarry Visitor’s Center to check out the Discovery Trail I had read about…lucky for me there was a volunteer on the trail at one point who pointed out various fragments of ancient creatures embedded in the Morrison Formation. This was totally amazing as I had never seen anything so ancient before. Following that I hiked another trail called ‘Sounds of Silence’ which was a three mile loop trail taking the visitor through beautiful and varied rock formations….and yes, always silence! I was feeling hunger pangs around that time, so I then headed to Vernal , Utah about 20 miles distant to get a sandwich and check out the ‘Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum’. That is a mouthful for sure, but it was anything but disappointing. I followed the line of dinosaurs through time…and I mean a lot of time! It was fascinating to see nicely crafted life size sculptures of Allosaurus, Stegosaurus and the like towering over me and bringing to me a realization of what it might have been like way back in history with those giant beasts running around the planet. Driving from civilization back into the serenity and quiet of the park was just perfect ….I needed that last evening at Split Mt Campground to internalize the wonders of this incredible National Monument, established in 1915. In later years , even more land was saved and protected there. In the 50’s, a great conservation struggle defeated a major dam proposal at Echo Park and saved the Yampa River, now the only naturally flowing river in the entire Colorado River system. I was feeling blessed to have been able to visit this park, a time capsule from the world of dinosaurs as well as a treasure chest of scenic beauty! The next day was my last, and I awoke to raindrops on my roof. However, the rain was short lived, and I decided to take a short 2 mile loop trail called ‘Desert Voices’, with excellent views of Split Mountain as well as many interesting interpretive signs to read. Afterwards, I wanted to see one more place…Josie Morris’s homesite that she homesteaded in 1913….in Cub Creek. Josie lived most of her 90 years of life in this austere, yet beautiful landscape, depending directly on the bounty of the land. I walked the short trail to a box canyon, “Hog Canyon”, where she penned her livestock by building a fence across its entrance. The Fremont Cottonwood trees there were huge and in full and glowing fall foliage! How could I leave such an enchanting place? Josie died in 1963 of a broken hip. How I would have loved to have known her pioneering spirit….I think she and I share a bit in common. Upon leaving this great Monument, I felt a sense of enrichment far beyond what I had expected. I vowed to come back here another October and immerse myself again in this remote and rugged land.

More Information

Contact Information:
Dinosaur National Monument, 4545 E. Highway 40 , Dinosaur, CO, 81610, Phone: 970-374-3000

Additional Information:
Colorado National Forests & Parks - Colorado is well known for its National Forests and Parks which include 14,000-foot mountains, world-class ski resorts, semiarid deserts, ancient Indian ruins and wide open plains.
Dinosaurland - This travel region lies on the northeastern border of Utah. A small population and miles of public land make it an outstanding destination for diverse recreational pursuits.
Utah National Forests and Parks - This large western state contains several National Forest and National Park properties. These diverse sites lie in all regions of the state and consist of natural and cultural attractions accessible throughout the year.
Utah's Historic Sites -

Dinosaur National Monument - Official agency website


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