Camping, Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument, National Parks & Monuments, State Parks, United States, Utah

A BeaUTAHful Bucket List: Day 11 – Dinosaur National Monument

Day 11 – April 5, 2022

The take aways…

  • Belted cows are suited for a hardy environment
  • I met the younger “know it all” version of my self at Dinosaur National Monument
  • Cell phone signal varies greatly from one side of the parking lot to the next in Vernal, UT
  • Crocs are amazing
  • Wyoming will greet you back from a desert trip with snow

The hum of fracking machinery greeted us in the morning, along with another pretty view. We awoke with still no idea where we were, and maybe a little sad that this was the last morning of the trip. “I’m pretty sure some wild animal is living in my hair,” I mumbled as I struggled to wrangle the dreadlock of sweat, dry shampoo, and Moab dust that was forming on my head that was last washed many days and 15 kayak miles before.

Early morning, new scenery! We had no idea really where we had camped the night before, or what it looked like. Wasn’t too shabby!
The hair in this photo is deceiving. It was disgusting! 12 hours to go until shampoo time!

After coffee and breakfast, we set back out to greet the highway, pondering the black cows wearing white belts around their belly. I eagerly latched onto a moment of cell service, and proceeded to read aloud about belted cows, and how they’re suited for inhospitable environments. Seemed about right!

Though this was the day to head home, we still had one stop to make – Dinosaur National Monument!! The last time I visited the quarry was before 1st grade, so I was eager to come back and actually remember my visit.

Found this friendly fella right before the entry to the monument

Dinosaur National Monument isn’t only about dinosaurs! Though the Quarry is probably what people think of most, the monument mostly consists of remote backcountry and confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers. There’s rafting, hiking, and camping opportunities. Unfortunately for this visit we’d just be exploring the Quarry and actual dinosaur parts, but I hope to come back someday to explore the less dinosaur-y parts.

Dinosaur National Monument as an adult, just as excited as I was when I was 6!

First up was the visitor center for passport stamps and souvenirs. Apparently there is normally a shuttle up to the quarry in the busier months, but we could drive ourselves up to the quarry building.

Visitor center for the dinosaur-y part of the monument. There is a visitor center at the east end as well, but it was still closed for the season.
Wait, doesn’t every 38 year old walk around with their toy dinosaurs in their pocket?!

The Quarry Exhibit Hall preserves a “dinosaur logjam,” where many dinos perished in a drought and got washed down a riverbed. Really kind of morbid – even Eric pointed out it was weird I brought the Adventure Dinos along as they probably didn’t want to see all the dead dinosaurs, LOL! Over 1500 bones have been preserved here. There are also exhibits and several bones that you can touch. Overall, probably my favorite part was when I was photographing Mr. Allosaurus next to an allosaurus skeleton, and a little girl came up to me and matter of factly said, “Those aren’t real bones, they’re just casts.” Okay, I met my younger self, because I totally could’ve seen me doing that as a kid!

Quarry Exhibit Hall encases the hillside which was once a river bed
At the entrance of the exhibit hall is a “walk through time” feature
Ta-da, dinosaurs!!!
Gosh, I’m the ultimate nerd. To be honest, I was the most excited person in that exhibit hall, even though I had about 30 years on most of the guests.
Young Camarasaurus casting
The “it’s just a cast” allosaurus with my Mr. Allosaurus
I touchy the dinosaur!!!
The Adventure Dinos touchy a dino…
The scenery outside the exhibit hall is stunning as well.

After wrapping up the quarry, we headed into Vernal for some lunch at Cafe Rio, and then to catch up on some “real life” tasks. We learned cell phone service varied greatly in the same parking lot, and watched as extremely high winds sent shopping carts flying and rocked the truck. I realized Famous Footwear carried Crocs, so staying true to my vow made days prior on the kayak, I went and bought myself a pair and slipped my feet into heaven.

The drive back to Cheyenne across northern Colorado was long. I educated Eric on FM Light & Sons signs, which dot the scenery for miles upon miles leading up to Steamboat Springs. We drove through dust storms. We probably looked up random trivia. In Steamboat we stopped for some late afternoon coffee and gas before the final push home. And wouldn’t you know it, it was snowing hard at the Wyoming border…

Driving through the hellacious winds and dust storm in some northern Colorado town
FM Light & Sons signs are a staple of the miles leading to Steamboat Springs

Eleven days, a couple thousand miles, and many memories later, the grand BeaUTAHful adventure came to a close! Though we saw so much, it seems at the same time, we saw so little of the landscape that makes up southern Utah (and surrounding states we ducked into). Like past adventures, it wasn’t so much goodbye as it was “see you next time!” as there’s bound to be another adventure into the remote corners of Utah!

Thanks for following along!!!

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