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, 2017, and 2020.
I've had to split the Dinosaur NM photoessay into 2 parts because of the sheer volume of photos and information accumulated
over several trips to the park. V.1 covers the part of the monument in Utah and v.2 covers the Canyon Area in Colorado.
WARNING! Even though the presentation is split into two parts there's a lot of eye candy in the monument, especially in v.1, so the presentations are 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.
Fossil Discovery Trail
Fossil Discovery Trail is 1.2 miles long, and can be accessed from either the visitor center or the Quarry Exhibit Hall. The trail is rated moderate, with some steep, uneven sections and rocky areas. Starting from the visitor center, the trail is level for maybe a quarter mile, passes some petroglyphs, and then ascends through 3 rock layers, the Mowry, Morrison, and Stump formations, with different fossils in each layer.
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.
Background content and other tidbits were taken from various National Park Service sources.
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