Dinosaur National Monument – Discover Dinosaurs

Quarry Visitor Center – Dinosaur National Monument.

Vernal, Utah.

After a day’s sightseeing in Utah, we headed toward Dinosaur National Monument expecting to see fossils. Our timing didn’t quite work out and as we pulled into the parking area, we discovered that the center was about to close and the Quarry Building had already closed. We opted to spend the night in Vernal as we wanted to see those dinosaur fossils we’d read about in the literature at the park.

Dinosaur Monument - Day 1-2
Near the visitor center, a sculpture welcomed us to the park.

After a short visit with the park ranger getting ready to close, we captured a few more photos of the beautiful Utah scenery and headed to nearby Vernal.

Dinosaur Monument - Day 1-3
Geology of the Region Explained.

Inside the center, both that late afternoon and the following day when we returned, we got some idea of the region’s geology and some of the scientific facts that made this area so rich in fossilized dinosaur remains.

Dinosaur Monument - Day 1-4
The ridge behind the visitor center.

Just a short distance from the center, a long ridge juts above the general terrain elevation. As I captured a few images, I wondered what secrets were buried with the dinosaurs within.

Dinosaur Monument - Day 1-5
Fossil Discovery Trailhead.

Near the visitor center, a 1.2-mile (2 km) trail invites visitors to get up close to that ridge. The trail is one-way, so if you walk to its end, you’ll end up hiking 2.4 miles (4 km) total. Along the way, there are three fossil areas to explore. Not all the fossils are buried within the ridge. These areas all contain exposed dinosaur fossils.

Prior to the pandemic, a shuttle transported people between the Quarry Building and the visitor center. Shuttles were shut down during our visit so guests were allowed to drive to the Quarry Building. When shuttles are running, no other vehicle traffic is allowed. As of this writing, I don’t know if the shuttle service has returned. The trail has trailheads at the visitor center and Quarry Building so many people opt to hike one way and take the shuttle on the return trip.

Dinosaur Monument - Day 1-6
The ridge.

Bikes and pets are not allowed on the trail, service animals excepted. In the summer, it can be well over 100 degrees F. so proper desert hiking precautions should be taken. The trail is not even friendly to strollers and can be slippery when wet.

Dinosaur Monument - Day 1-7
Panoramic view of the ridge.

As you arrive or leave the area, the ridge can be seen for some distance. The images captured near the visitor center don’t show the length of the ridge. Next week we visit the Quarry Building and see the results of the excavation of a section of the ridge. All of the images in this post are available to view in 2K HD on my Flickr site here.

John Steiner

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