Dinosaur National Monument, UT
IF YOU GO
Dinosaur National Monument
Entrance fee: $25 per car
Standard Hours are from 9am-5pm
Dinosaur National Park has two visitor centers.
The Quarry Visitor Center on the Utah side of the monument is the starting point to see dinosaur fossils
Dinosaur National Monument (Photo courtesy the National Park Service)
By Nushin Huq
Between 2 Pines Magazine
There's a lot more to do at Dinosaur National Monument than just learn about dinosaurs (though that's pretty cool too).
WHAT TO SEE
The main attraction is the dinosaur quarry. In this indoor exhibit, visitors can see exposed dinosaur bones in the land, just like an actual dig site. There's also petroglyphs, an old homestead and a cave where an outlaw hid. Exploring this park is a real adventure. For even more fun, book a rafting trip through the Green River and explore the park from a different perspective.
WHERE TO STAY
There are six campsites at this park. Three are on the Utah side, three are on the Colorado side of the park. There is no hotel, but there are several hotels in the town of Vernal, Utah.
WHERE TO EAT
There are no restaurants in the park. You'll have to bring in your own food in, but make sure to pack everything out. There are a number of great restaurants in nearby Vernal.
BEST HIKES FOR FAMILIES
There are a number of fun hikes for the family. If you are visiting the quarry, try the 1.2 mile Fossil Discovery Trail. The park website has a full list. Another favorite is a remote trail called the Jones Hole Trail. It's longer, 4.25 miles. Unlike most parks, Dinosaur NM allows off trail hiking. Just make sure you know where you are going and can get back. Take PLENTY of water and remember to follow Leave No Trace principles.
BEST TIPS FOR KIDS
Like other national parks, Dinosaur NM has a junior ranger program. The quarry is a must-see. It's a unique opportunity to see Dinosaur bones still in the ground. Pick up a schedule and see if you can make it to a ranger talk. They are interactive and fun. If you are planning on going to the quarry, make sure you are entering through the Utah side of the park. The Utah and Colorado side aren't connected by road, so if your kids are excited about seeing Dinosaur bones, don't enter through Colorado side!
There are also a number of petroglyphs in the park. Pick up a park guide to learn where they are. Make sure you do not touch the petroglyphs!
For something totally different different, consider going on a rafting trip. The Green River runs through the park and is one of the best rivers to go rafting on. There are a number of operators that are licensed with the National Park Service. You can go on a one day or multi-day trip. Often times, guides will also take you on hikes and give you talks about the history of the land and people. If you need special accommodations, be sure to ask your guide.