Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument is perched on the northern Colorado-Utah boundary, with visitors’ centers at either end. After securing an exceptionally beautiful campsite within a few feet of the flood swollen Green River, we decided to trench in for a few days. The sound of the running water backed by the impressive mountain scenery was ideal – plus the campground itself was on the quiet side.

View from Campsite at Dinosaur National Monument

View from Campsite at Dinosaur National Monument

Rainbow over Green River Valley

View from our campsite as a rainbow appears over Green River Valley

The next day we opted for a good review of the Visitor’s Center on the Utah side, then the Ranger-guided tour of the Fossil Discovery Trail. The main quarry area is closed – so that was the only real way to get introduced to the fossils in matrix.

Close up of Dino Vertebra

Close up of Dino Vertebra

Bentonite Clay Pile

Bentonite clay - does not make a good foundation for a large building.

The main quarry is closed, by the way, because the building was built on a formation of bentonite clay – which is essentially kitty litter. Renovations and stabilization of the building should be done this fall. Overall it was a nice little hike and gave us a good intro to the whole dino fossil scene here at the park.

We headed into the town of Vernal to see the Field House Museum of Natural History located therein.

Ric faces attacking Mastadon

Ric faces attacking Mastadon

As advertised it had a stellar array of fossils and mineral specimens, as well as a “dinosaur garden” in which Ric had to confront a Mastodon. Then we stomped around the town of Vernal for awhile. It should be mentioned that the town of Vernal is to dinosaurs as Roswell is to aliens.

Vernal Utah Dino Signs

Vernal Utah Dino Signs

…and the horses hang out with the local dinosaurs…

Horse and Dinosaur Hanging Out

Horse and Dinosaur Hanging Out

The next day we set out on a five mile desert hike via connector trails from our campsite over through Split Mountain campground and around the “Desert Voices Trail”…

Linda and Ric on Desert Voices Trail

Linda and Ric on Desert Voices Trail

After a short nap to recover from the heat of the day, we set out to explore Josie Bassett’s cabin, an intrepid homesteader who led a self-sustaining lifestyle here in the Green River Valley:

The Josie Morris Homestead

The Josie Morris Homestead

On a whim, we set out to explore a four-wheel-drive road leading to Blue Mountain. We have been on much more challenging roads in New Mexico – still – it took awhile, but we were rewarded with an absolutely spectacular, remote, and pristine high mesa environment, and an equally spectacular lightning storm that sent streaks of lightning to the valley below. After a few dead ends, and twists and turns, we found our way back to the paved park road at the other end of the park in Colorado.

View of Green River Valley from Blue Mountain

View of Green River Valley from Blue Mountain

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Filed under Alaska Journal, Been There Done That, Geology on the Rocks, Uncategorized

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