Dinosaur National Monument
Trip Start Aug 12, 2013
46Trip End Oct 02, 2013
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It was raining as I drove to the Visitor Center just to the east of Dinosaur, CO. I went in and watched their movie and talked to a ranger about what I should do. The national monument was created in 1915 but at that time it only included 80 acres around a quarry near Vernal, UT. It was expanded to over 200,000 acres in 1938.
I decided that the best place to go was the Echo Park area but the dirt road down into the valley is impassable when wet and, since it was drizzling as I drove there, I wasn't sure it I was going to be able to do it.
When I reached the turnoff onto the dirt road I could see that there was a lot of gravel on top of the dirt and it didn't look particularly wet. The drizzle had largely stopped so I decided to give it a try.
The road turned out to be fine. I drove all the way to the end before I stopped. I walked over to see Steamboat Rock at the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers. It's hard to believe that in the 1950s there were people who wanted to put a dam just downstream from this spot. I walked over to some nearby petroglyphs. They weren't very impressive. I went back to the car and headed back toward the entrance.
There are signs for more petroglyphs along the road. They were more interesting than the ones at Echo Park. There is also an old homestead. I took a few pictures and then headed for the Quarry Visitor Center.
The Quarry Visitor Center has a few exhibits and is the spot where you catch a shuttle to the Quarry Exhibit Hall. I took a quick look around and caught the next shuttle.
The Quarry Exhibit Hall is a building built over some very rich fossil beds. Around two thirds of the fossils had previously been removed. Then enough rock was removed to expose the next layer, which contains roughly 1,500 of fossilized bones. This layer of bones was left in place so you can see what the paleontologists saw.
I took the Fossil Discovery Trail to get back to the Quarry Visitor Center. There are a few stops to see some small fossils along the trail. There are lots of other hiking trails in the park but I didn't have time to take any of them.
I enjoyed Dinosaur National Monument. I don't believe there are any other places where you can see so many fossils still in the rock.
When I got back I headed to Vernal, UT and got a room for the night.
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