Dinosaur National Monument spans the border between northeast Utah and northwest Colorado.
Most of the monument (the Canyon Area) is located in Moffat County, CO. The Dinosaur Quarry, Cub Creek Road, Josie Morris
ranch, and Split Mountain and Green River Campgrounds are located in Utah, just north of the town
of Jensen. There are two visitor centers, the Quarry Visitor Center in Utah and the Canyon Visitor
Center in Colorado (just east of the town of Dinosaur). Both park entrances are accessed from US Hwy 40.
I've been to Dinosaur in 1991, 1995, and 2017, and plan on going again.
WARNING! I decided to do the whole Dinosaur National Monument thing in one presentation, rather than split it into two or more volumes. There's a lot of eye candy in the monument, so this presentation is LONG. For those of you with attention deficit disorder, I suggest reading a section, then eating some lunch, reading another section, then taking a hike, etc. I have followed my usual practice of side-by-side photos of the same subjects taken in different years. So no, you are not having double or triple vision.
Dinosaur Quarry / Quarry Exhibit Hall
The original Dinosaur Quarry bulding, which also contained the visitor center, was closed in 2006 due to structural problems. A new visitor center was built closer to the park entrance, and the Quarry Exhibit Hall was renovated and reopened in the fall of 2011. The stegosaurus from the 1964 World's Fair was moved to the new visitor center. Back in the day, visitors drove right to the Quarry and parked. Now, you park at the new Visitor Center and take a shuttle to the Quarry.
A word about the quarry - the bone bearing layer of the cliff face (quarry face) has been almost completely exposed, revealing over 1500 bones. The quarry face is divided into sections, alphabetically from left to right (west to east), and numerically from to top to bottom. Section B-1 contains a nearly complete skeleton of Camarasaurus. Sections C-1, D-1, D-2, and E1 contain the disarticulated bones of Stegosaurus. Sections F-1, F-2, and G-2 contain bones of large sauropods, mostly Apatosaurus and Camarasaurus, and sections I-2 and I-3 contain a mashup of bones from several different dinosaurs.
Cub Creek Road
Cub Creek Road begins at the Quarry Visitor Center and ends 12 miles later at the road to Josie Morris Ranch. Both Split Mountain and Green River Campgrounds are accessed from Cub Creek Road. There are several trails and interesting stops along the road, and we will visit some of them in this section.
0.9 mile - Swelter Shelter
The first stop is Swelter Shelter, one of the oldest sites of human occupation in the park. Members of the Desert Archaic Culture left stone tools here some 7,000 years ago. Several thousand years later peoples of the Fremont Culture pecked petroglyphs into the rocks at this site.
1.8 miles - Sound of Silence Trail
This is a 3 mile moderate to difficult loop trail.
2.5 miles - Intersection to Split Mountain and Split Mountain Campground
Split Mountain is so named because the Green River has cut a canyon through the center of it.
6.5 to 7.2 miles - Morrison Formation and Placer Point
The Morrison Formation is distinctive with its bands of red, gray, purple, and brown. This formation is rich in dinosaur fossils from the late Jurrasic. Placer Point is a bend in the Green River where prospectors unsuccessfully tried to sluice gold.
9 to 11 miles - Fancy Formations and Petroglyphs
Cub Creek Road crosses the Green River after Placer Point and enters the Chew Ranch, which is private property. Turtle Rock comes into view just before leaving Chew Ranch and reentering the Monument. Toward the end of Cub Creek Road there are lots more Fremont petroglyphs and Elephant Toes Butte. This is the last stop before reaching Josie Morris Ranch Road.
Josie Morris Ranch
Josephine Bassett Morris moved Utah in 1914 and settled in the area that is now part of Dinosaur National Monument. She went through 5 husbands and several cabins before deciding on a single life in the cabin that stands on the ranch today. She died at the age of 89, tough and independent to the end.
The Canyon Area is located in Colorado and comprises most of the park. The only paved road in this section of the park is Harpers Corner Scenic Drive which starts at the intersection with US Hwy 40 and ends at Harpers Corner. There are overlooks along the way, and a 4WD road that leads down into Echo Park where there is a primitive campground. I definitely want to do Echo Park some day. Raft trips down the Green River are also popular in the Canyon Area. Most trips begin at the Gates of Lodore in the extreme northern end of the Monument. The view of the confluence of the Yampa and Green Rivers at Harpers Corner is to die for, so I made the trip to Harpers Corner in Sept of 2017 and took the short hike (2 miles out and back) to Harpers Corner overlook. Boy was I bummed. The whole area was shrouded in smoke and haze from forest fires burning near Steamboat Springs. I've included some of the best of the smoky photos. Well, better luck next time.
Bonus - Dinosaur, Colorado
Dinosaur is a little town at the intersection of CO State Hwy 64 and US Hwy 40, just west of the Canyon Area entrance to Dinsosuar National Monument. It bills itself as the "Gateway to Dinosaur National Monument". It has the best street signs ever.
Background content and other tidbits were taken from various National Park Service sources.
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