Whether you’re on your way to Rocky Mountain National Park or leaving, Dinosaur National Monument is a great place to make a side-trip to see a dinosaur fossil quarry.
- Take a side-trip from Rocky Mountain National Park to visit Dinosaur National Monument and see a dinosaur fossil quarry
- It’s only a 4 ½-hour drive to the monument
- Admission is free
- See dinosaur fossils embedded in the cliffs
- Try some river rafting on the Green River
Dinosaur National Monument offers a feast for the mind and the eye. Hundreds of dinosaurs lived and died right here, with their bones captured in the rock layers. Surrounded by striking scenery on acreage of 325 square miles, this monument lies at the confluence of the Yampa and Green Rivers. Find the fossils of the Abydosaurus, the Allosaurus and many more. View colorful canyons and enjoy a multitude of outdoor recreational opportunities.
Although the main exhibit is currently closed, the temporary visitor center, on State Route 149 four miles north of Jensen, Utah, is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. The Canyon Area Visitor Center is close to Dinosaur, Colorado and is open from early March to the end of October, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
In 2010, admission fees aren’t charged. Camping fees vary depending on the campground you choose, but are between $8 and $25 a night. Rainbow Park Campground is free. Backcountry camping and the permit required are free.
Dinosaur National Monument
4545 E. Highway 40
Dinosaur, CO 81610-9724
Canyon Area Visitor Center
Temporary Visitor Center
At Dinosaur National Monument you’ll enjoy the many opportunities for adventure as well as the strange petroglyphs, fossils from millions of years ago and dramatic landscapes.
To really appreciate the park’s scenery, you simply have to try one of the many hiking trails. Most of the popular trails start near the visitor centers. There are others more remote you may want to hike.
Closest to the Temporary Visitor Center you’ll find a number of trails. For an easy to moderate ½-mile hike, take the Fossil Discovery Trail to see exposed fossil bones in the cliffs. The Sound of Silence Trail is about 3 ½ miles east of the Temporary Visitor Center and is a moderate to difficult three-mile loop. See interesting rock layers and amazing geologic sights. Other trails nearby are the River Trail, Hog Canyon Trail and Desert Voices Trail.
Enjoy many hiking trails close to the Canyon Area Visitor Center, like the Cold Desert Trail, which is a short and even walk where you can see how diverse the desert shrubs are in this area. Other hikes include the Plug Hat Trail, the Ruple Point Trail and Harpers Corner Trail.
You can really have some adventures on a river-rafting trip around Dinosaur National Monument. The Green River and the Yampa River have some Class III and IV rapids that can be quite challenging. You can take a commercial guided river trip or go on your own private boating trip. For private boating, you’ll need a permit. Find out how to apply for the permit lottery at the River Office by calling 970-374-2468.
Two scenic drives will give you a view of the geologic features of the monument as well as the colorful canyons and rivers. The Tour of the Tilted Rocks takes you on a 13-mile tour on Cub Creek Road. On the way you can see some ancient pictograph panels, the 1913 Josie Bassett Cabin and views of the Green River. On the Harpers Corner Scenic Drive you’ll see buttes, overlooks of the rivers below and find a comfortable place for a family picnic.
The solitude and beauty of the terrain around Dinosaur National Monument is inspiring, and a great place to do some backcountry camping. You can get free backcountry permits for an overnight stay. At the confluence of Ely and Jones Hole Creek is a designated backcountry location, but you’ll need reservations. Make them by calling 435-781-7700.
To get to Rocky Mountain National Park from Dinosaur National Monument, start out on Utah Highway 149 and get on US Highway 40. When you come to US Highway 34, you will go right to the park entrance. The trip is about 247 miles and takes around 4 hours and 30 minutes.