Dinosaur National Monument v.2 Colorado

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. 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.

Canyon Area

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 Road Scenic Drive. 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. There are no fossils located in this area of the park in case you're wondering.

Park sign

Canyon Visitor Center

Buckle up or face extinction

Harpers Corner Road Scenic Drive

The only paved road in this section of the park is Harpers Corner Road Scenic Drive which starts at the intersection with US Hwy 40 and ends at Harpers Corner. It's 31 miles one-way. The road is closed at Plug Hat Butte in the winter. The overlooks along the way are Plug Hat Butte, Escalante, Canyon, Island Park, Iron Springs Bench, and Echo Park. Picnic areas and restroom facilities are located at some of the overlooks.

Plug Hat Trail

Plug Hat Trail is an easy 1/2 mile loop trail starting at the Plug Hat Butte Overlook. This level trail affords excellent views of the surrounding landscape and provides an introduction to the pinyon pine-Utah juniper vegitation. The trail is paved and wheelchair accessible. A picnic area is located across the road from the trailhead.

Plug Hat Trail
at Plug Hat Butte

Utah Juniper with berries
Plug Hat Trail

Mountain Mahogany
Plug Hat Trail

View from Plug Hat Butte

Is that deer poop?

Plug Hat Butte and Harpers Corner Road

Plug Hat Butte

Escalante Overlook

Echo Park Overlook

Iron Springs Bench Overlook

Harpers Corner Trail

Harpers Corner Trail is a 2.3 mile out and back trail that starts at the end of Harpers Corner Road. I would rate the trail as easy and one that the whole family can enjoy. The trail follows a ridge that is forested with pine, with occasional panoramic glimpses of the surrounding landscape. It ends at the Harpers Corner Overlook with 360° views that are absolutely spectacular. The first time I hiked the trail was in Sept of 2017. Boy was I bummed. The whole area was shrouded in smoke and haze from forest fires burning near Steamboat Springs. So I did it again in June 2020. I've included some similar photos from both 2017 and 2020. The comparisons are kind of interesting.

Harpers Corner Trailhead

Harpers Corner trail

Chew Ranch
View from Harpers Corner trail

Yampa River
View from Harpers Corner trail

End of the trail
Harpers Corner Overlook

Harpers Corner overlook
View ~ South-Southeast

Smoky panorama from Harpers Corner Overlook Sept 2017

Panorama from Harpers Corner Overlook June 2020

Green River Sept 2017
Smoky view west from Harpers Corner

Green River June 2020
View west from Harpers Corner

Green River Sept 2017
Smoky view from Harpers Corner Overlook

Green River June 2020
View from Harpers Corner Overlook

Green River Closeup Sept 2017

Yampa River center, Steamboat Rock right
Green River left foreground

Green River left background and foreground
Yampa River right background

Geological Strata

Echo Park

The majority of the monument in Colorado can be accessed from the western end by the Echo Park Road or from the eastern end by the Yampa Bench Road. Both roads are unimproved gravel and it's highly recommended to travel them in a 4-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle. I took Echo Park Road off of Harpers Corner Road. The road forks after several miles, with the left fork being Echo Park Road and the right fork Yampa Bench Road that continues east through the monument. Echo Park Road ends at the Echo Park Ranger station and primitive campground (open summer only). Along the way one encounters the old Chew Ranch at Pool Creek, petroglyphs, and Whispering Cave.

Echo Park

Echo Park Road in Echo Park

Chew Ranch at Pool Creek

Jack Chew settled at Pool Creek with his wife Mary and six of their 12 children in 1910. In 1911, they built a one-room cabin. They eastblished a ranch that was managed by Mary and sons Rial and Douglas. Rial became sole owner of the ranch in the 1920s and expanded it to more than 2200 acres. He began raising sheep in the 1930s. A large portion of the ranch was sold to the National Park Service in 1966.


Sheep Herders Trailer

Sheep Herders Trailer

Trailer Interior


Chew Ranch House

Chew Ranch House


Root Cellar

Cabin along Echo Park Road



Whispering Cave

Terrain near Echo Park Campground
Lots of mosquitoes in June

Echo Park Ranger Station

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.

Welcome sign


CO State Hwy 64

Beer stop

Chainsaw art

Stegosaurus, nearly extinct

Boss bench

Artesia Volunteer Fire Department






Background content and other tidbits were taken from various National Park Service sources.
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