Winter has finally come to an end and the beginnings of summer are starting to appear all around us. After the absolutely dismal winter experienced across the United States, I can imagine that people everywhere are dying to stretch their legs and looking for an outdoor adventure. The National Parks across the states are unrivalled when it comes to both size and beauty and there really is something for everyone. Be it exploring the unknown, hiking across rocky outcrops or admiring all the colours of the rainbow in the surrounding landscape, every National Park has something different to offer.
If you are looking for something a little different this Summer, why not check out Dinosaurland in Utah, the only place in the world that provides an interactive experience with more than 1,500 dinosaur bones and fossils. While a place like this would have excited me to no end when I was younger (I used to spend so much time searching for fossils on nearby beaches around Ireland that there almost had to be an intervention!!) these days it appeals to me for very different reasons.
I have decided to put together this quick guide to Dinosaurland as well as detailing 10 great reasons to plan a visit to a park you may never have heard of before!
10. Perfect location
Dinosaurland is ideally located between some of the most visited parks in the country such as Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park, making it the perfect stopping point between destinations. The area is also home to some of Utah’s most scenic canyons as well as both the Yampa and Green Rivers, making it a popular destination in its own right. As if all this was not enough, it is also home to not one but three state parks; Steinaker & Red Fleet Reservoirs and the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum.
9. Camping paradise
Arguably one of the best places in the United States to go stargazing, Dinosaurland is also one of the few places in the country where you can clearly see the milky way winding it’s way through the sky on a dark spring night. This, along with a wide range of camping options both inside the park and nearby, make it the perfect place to pitch your tent and ‘get back to nature’! Don’t forget to bring along some marshmallows to roast on the campfire – yum! If you’re lucky enough to own a super fancy RV (my retirement plan, should you be wondering!) there are lots of great RV parks nearby too.
8. A wildlife wonderland
Think about this…where else in the world can you reacquaint yourself with the ancient past by interacting with thousands of dinosaur bones in the same day that you can spot modernday wild animals such as Rocky Mountain goats, pronghorn antelope, cougars, coyotes and some golden and bald eagles if you’re really lucky. If fishing is more your style, then you will definitely fall in love with this place as it home to a record breaking 20,000 trout per square mile in the upper sections on the Green River, ensuring that even a total novice will have some success at reeling in the dinner!
7. Endless adventure
Be it hiking, biking, tearing across the mountain trails on an ATV or attempting to snorkel up a river filled with more fish than you care to think about, Dinosaurland is in fact an adventure junkie heaven. Pretty much any activity you can dream up of, it is more than likely available in the area. Fancy rafting down the river for 4 days, stopping along the way and pitching yout tent in the wild? Check! Want to take a quick flight to see the monument and incredible landscapes from above? No problem! You can even do a survival training course to see if you really have what it takes to survive in the wild! Now that sounds like my type of adventure! (If you are brave enough to visit in Winter, you will be rewarded with cross country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoe trails.)
6. The chance to visit a National Monument
If given the chance to visit a National Monument, one should always take it! It’s not as if you would travel to New York and then skip visiting the Statue of Liberty! This National Monument is a bit different to the rest however, as it covers more than 200,000 acres and dates all the way back to 1909 when an excavation uncovered thousands of dinosaur fossils leading to the surrounding 80 acres being declared a protected national treasure. Head to the dinosaur quarry if you want to see both dinosaur footprints and fossils dating back millions of years.
5. Scenic drives
I get it…we’re not all as adventurous as we once were and sometimes a good old drive rather than an 8 hour hike seems a little more appealing! The great thing about this park is there is an incredible drive called the the Dinosaur Diamond National Scenic Byway which covers more than 512 miles and crosses the states of Utah and Colorado offering unrivalled views and is home to the world’s most significant dinosaur fossil quarries, museums and other attractions. Other, shorter, scenic drives include the Dry Fork Scenic Backway which is just two hours long and passed by open meadows and aspen groves and the Nine Mile Canyon drive which is a real western frontier experience!
4. Painting the past
For the art enthusiast in you, Dinosaurland offers a look at some ancient artwork, dating as far back at 1200 A.D. Situated on two different sites, Nine Mile Canyon and McConkie Ranch (a private property but visitors who treat the place with respect are welcomed and donations accepted), these petroglyphs are excellent examples of Fremont Native American culture and cover over 200 feet of cliff face. You will also come across old cliff dwellings and early pioneer dwellings in this area, a clear indicator of who this area was first inhabited by.
3. A taste of the wild west
Looking for a taste of the wild west? Be it watching professional bull riders, following the outlaw trail rides or visiting the outback town where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hid from the law, you are guaranteed to have some fun while discovering what life was like out west back in the day! Be sure to visit the John Jarvie Ranch for a taste of old frontier life at the turn-of-the-century in this remote part of the West. (Note: Only open from May to October.)
2. Get cultured
We all need a little culture now and then and with three museums in the immediate area, Dinosaurland is a great place to get it. From the Uintah County Heritage Museum which features displays of miners, soldiers, lawmen and Native American Indians who helped shape the history of the area to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneer Museum which is full of local historic artefacts, you will leave with a head full of facts and a mind full of history!
1. Biking trails for days!
The number one reason to visit has to be the incredibly varied number of biking trails on offer. From the most popular Jazz-Chromolly trail to the lesser known Taylor Mountain Ramble and the more difficult Red Fleet Mountain Bike Complex aimed at experienced riders. For those as fit as a fiddle (not me, that’s for sure) you can set out on trails for time ranging from a few hours to a few days while for those with a little less energy but still interested in seeing the sites and sounds of the area, hop on an ATV and head off into the sunset on the Pretty Mountain Loop trail or the Yellowstone ATV trail. Guaranteed spectacular views you will never forget.
So, what are you waiting for?! Next time you plan a trip to Utah, you now know what your first stop should be!
Note: While this post was brought to you in partnership with Cooperatize and Dinosaurland, I really hope it was still a great read! Janet x