Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

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.)

The Green River follows the highway into the park


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

The Quarry Exhibit

On the ground floor of the exhibit you can touch the actual bones
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.

Cast of Allosaurous jimmadseni
What he probably looked like.


The Quarry Wall

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

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.

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


Extremity bones

Bull Canyon Wilderness

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

Bull Canyon area

Pinyon Pines & Utah Cedar

Utah Cedar
Pinyon Pines
This well graded back road took us high over the outback
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.

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

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