Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

IMG_1113
Life Sized reconstruction

 

Dinosaurs are found in many parts of the world, but what makes this area in northeastern Utah distinct is that the bones of so many different types of dinosaurs are concentrated in one area.  Excavations of the area began in the early 1900’s by Earl Douglass, funded by Andrew Carnegie who was interested in obtaining specimens for the Carnegie Museum.  In over 15 years of excavation, beginning in 1909, 10 species of dinosaurs were uncovered and shipped to museums.  In 1915 thanks to Carnegie’s efforts, 80 acres around the dig were set aside by President Woodrow Wilson, who declared the area a national monument.  At that time Douglass requested that a building be constructed to protect the remaining fossil bones but this was not accomplished until 1958.  The quarry face is an exhibit of bones, just as they lay when uncovered.  Only about 1/2 of the bones are exposed for observation.  The wall is a 12 foot thick layer that lies between other rock strata.  It is felt that when various dinosaurs died in a river their bodies were picked clean by scavengers, the bones of the bodies were broken apart, then deposited in areas of the river in piles.  If the bones were completely covered with sand they became fossilized.  (Information from Dinosaur, The Story Behind the Scenery,” by Allen Hagood & Linda West.)

IMG_1098
The Green River follows the highway into the park

 

IMG_0418
Like the Greeter of the Park, this strange formation which resembles the head of a dinosaur looms above the visitor’s center.
IMG_0419
A bone picker that doesn’t require a hammer and chisel
IMG_0421
A little ground squirrel hoping for a handout from the tourists.

The Quarry Exhibit

IMG_0250
On the ground floor of the exhibit you can touch the actual bones
IMG_0249
A bone available to touch. The joint is amazingly preserved

A rare find within the park was this almost complete Allosaurous jimmadseni, a new type of meat eating dinosaur.  He lived about 5 million years before the other dinosaurs in the quarry.  It was discovered in a ravine in the area in 1990 and took three years to excavate.

IMG_0267
Cast of Allosaurous jimmadseni
IMG_0266
What he probably looked like.

 

The Quarry Wall

The animals that were fossilized here roamed the area 150 million years ago.

IMG_0257
The Quarry Wall

The bones in the quarry didn’t signify the end of the dinosaur era, rather they fall more in the middle of the stretch of time when the giant beasts roamed the earth.

IMG_0251
Some bones are more easily recognizable than others
IMG_0247
The cuts in the rock are from the excavator’s tools
IMG_0246
Vertebrae

 

IMG_0236
Extremity bones

Bull Canyon Wilderness

We took a ride through the back country after leaving the quarry.

IMG_1622
Bull Canyon area

Pinyon Pines & Utah Cedar

IMG_1600
Utah Cedar
IMG_1610
Pinyon Pines
IMG_1190
This well graded back road took us high over the outback
IMG_1179
A never ending feast for the eyes

Moonshine Arch Ride

Our last jeep ride with our friends before they headed back to reality in California was to Moonshine Arch, a local 4WD destination for the people who live around Vernal, Utah.

IMG_4384
The marker to the arch
IMG_4382
The road into Moonshine is fairly easy going
IMG_1083
Paul’s jeep
IMG_4389
Coming up to the rocky area
IMG_4386
Once the road leaves dirt its hard to find the trail over these rocks
IMG_0210
Feeling our way over rock face (I got out to lead Bruce for awhile), you turn a corner and find the arch
IMG_1081
Here we rested for awhile, then headed back to Vernal.

Utah is a treasure worth coming back to time and time again.