We had the best time exploring where the dinosaurs use to roam, touching real dinosaur bones, seeing petroglyphs, hiking and more! Our youngest son Grayson is pretty fond of these creatures that used these lands as their stomping grounds millions of years so, making Dinosaurland in Vernal, Utah the perfect trip for him.
Dinosaurland Vernal, Utah
Vernal (AKA Dinosaurland) is located in northeastern Utah and is just 20 miles west of the Colorado border. The beauty that surrounds it and the history makes it a fun place to learn and explore! While Dinosaur National Monument is known for its impressive display of dinosaur bones, there is much more to discover in the monument. So if you are not into Dinosaurs, don’t fret, there is plenty more to discover. With many state parks in the area as well as Flaming Gorge, you will find yourself immersed in an adventure!
Here are some towns/places nearby worth exploring as well! There is something for everyone!
- Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area
- Red Fleet State Park
- Steinaker State Park
- Ashley National Forest
Dinosaur National Monument’s Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall
Before heading up to the exhibit, stop in the visitor center to purchase your pass to the monument. You can purchase a one-time pass during your stay. The pass is valid for the day of purchase and the next six days for a vehicle carrying the same group of passengers. Or if you plan to visit more parks during the year then a great option is the America the Beautiful-The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass.
Before getting into the details of the quarry exhibit, let’s talk about the architecture of the building that beholds all the ancient artifacts. Isn’t amazing?!
Inside the Quarry Exhibit Hall, you will be amazed by a wall with approximately 1500 Dinosaur bones that have been refurbished. There are even a few that you can touch which is pretty cool. Rangers are there to answer any questions as well as point out any bones that maybe you can’t find or know what it is. There is an Allosaurus that has been reconstructed and put on display!
We visited during the off-season so no shuttle was needed to the top of the Quarry, but I did see on the website that reservations are required to visit the exhibit. You can find all the info here.
Dinosaur National Monument – Club Creek Road
As you leave the exhibit hall and just down from the visitor center, the main road, Cub Creek Road will lead you to a slew of attractions. From petroglyphs, hikes, the green river, camping spots, history, and more. Here is the list of things to check out that are along the road in the monument, as well as some pictures and more details on the ones that we visited and explored.
- Swelter Shelter Petroglyphs
- Sound Of Silence Trail
- Split Mountain Campground
- Desert Voices Trail
- Turtle Rock
- Josie Morris Cabin
Swelter Shelter Petroglyphs
These petroglyphs are ones that are easy to access and pretty cool to see inside a little alcove. Seriously just park your car walk a few steps and there they are. So a super easy spot to discover when your with the little ones. Gotta love those easy-to-find and get to gems!
This is also one of those spots that require no hiking to get to it and you can seriously just be lazy if you would like and stay in the car. There is a little pull-off you can pull into and get out too. Pretty amazing how these rock formations can really look like a specific thing. Do you see the turtle?!
Desert Voices Nature Trail
This trail is located at Split Mountain Campground, which is actually where we camped during our stay making it easy to go to the trail. On our way to the trail, we ended up getting distracted and played down by the water and throwing rocks, With the views from where we were I am sure that the views from the trail are awesome! The trail is a 1.5 miles round trip with spectacular views of split mountain. There are signs along the trail that describe geology and ecology. There are also signs that are written and drawn by children for children. Next time we won’t let the distractions of the water deter us from the trail and go see the views for ourselves! Until then, here are some pics at the start of the trailhead and down by the water and the split mountain just to give you an idea of the beauty that surrounds it! I will be highlighting more of this campground, so stay tuned.
Once you find the trail to Moonshine Arch your cuss words and frustration of getting there will be left behind you haha! We use the Alltrails app for all of our hiking adventures This App has never led us astray until this hike. You will clearly know that you are not at the correct place once you reach the dirt road it leads you too. The sign says, “THIS IS NOT MOONSHINE ARCH!” So we read some of the comments within the app that was more like a game of cat and mouse and felt like we were on a scavenger hunt haha! Instead of turning in the entrance to Steinaker State Park, continue driving past that turnoff about 1 mile. There actually is a sign on the highway that will lead you to the turnoff. However, that sign was on the other side of the road depending on which direction you are coming from. So my advice for this hike is to do your research beforehand.
This hike is an easy to moderate hike that is 1.4 miles round trip. It has a beautiful arch and is fun to climb around where the inside has a little cave. Great hike for the whole family for sure!
Jr. Ranger Program
One thing we love to participate in whenever we visit a National Park or a National Monument is their Jr. Ranger program. These programs are a great way for the kids to learn more about the parks and the geology of the location they are in. So make sure to stop by the visitor center to learn more about the program and get your activity book!
The boys each had fun filling out their books while at camp!
Once your Jr Rangers have completed their books, take them back to the visitor center to get sworn in and earn their Jr. Ranger book! Such a fun program for kids.
If you are into adventure, the outdoors, and Dinosaurs, then Dinosaurland National Monument in Vernal is a very fun and beautiful place to come and explore! Good times had by all!