(800) 477-5558 dinoland.com
Looking to avoid crowds and see one of the country's most spectacular national monuments?
Head to Vernal, Utah, where locals like to brag the town was established 150,000,000 years ago. And there are plenty of former ancient residents lying around to prove it. See some of them at Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum. A giant Diplodocus stretching 90 feet from tail to tip will greet you at the door. Inside, get an engaging hands-on primer on what’s been going on for the last several million years. Learn about the area's dinosaurs and how to tell fossils apart from pebbles. Step into the Fossil Lab to discover scientists working with dinosaur bones. And don’t miss the Dinosaur Garden where 17 full-sized replicas of prehistoric animals loiter.
Then head outdoors and visit the hidden gem of Dinosaur National Monument. This year marks the 150th celebration of the John Wesley Powell expedition to explore the Colorado and Green rivers, the latter which flows through the monument.
You'll find unmistakable dinosaur bones embedded in the monument's sandstone walls. You'll also see ancient Native American rock art of animal-like figures, abstract designs and human-like figures whose meaning is still a mystery.
But don't miss Red Fleet State Park 13 miles north of Vernal on Hwy. 191 where you can walk an up-and-down, 1.5-mile trail to 200-million-year-old dinosaur tracks. Go early in the morning or late afternoon as the tracks are difficult to see when the sun is directly above you. There’s camping here, and the park rents kayaks, canoes and paddle boards to explore the Red Fleet Reservoir.
Head to Betty’s Cafe, 416 W. Main St., for a reasonably-priced breakfast. For craft beer and a gastro pub menu, head to Vernal Brewing Co. Beers are named after area attractions like Little Hole Lager [a Green River boat takeout] and Allosaurus Amber.
Stop by the Utah Field House of National History State Park Museum, 496 East Main St., or go to dinoland.com.
For more information
134 W Main St no. 101, Vernal, Utah 84078
(435) 789-6932 or (800) 477-5558
Utah Field House of Natural History State Park
496 E. Main, Vernal, UT 84078