We’re home! I’ll write more about our homecoming in the
coming week, but for now I’ll just catch up on the posts from our last week on
the road. Most likely, I’ll post one “catch-up”
per day, so stay tuned. Then I plan to
do a series of wrap-up posts. After
that, who knows? We’ll just have to see.
The town of Vernal Utah, and surrounding
Uintah County capitalize on their proximity to Dinosaur National Monument and
the quantity of fossils found in the region.
The area even refers to itself as Dinosaurland, and a pink dinosaur welcomes
visitors to the town.
Dinosaur National Monument takes its
name from an incredible deposit of dinosaur fossils that were first discovered
in 1909. The quarry here is one of the
best late-Jurassic Period dinosaur finds in the world. This quarry yielded the remains of more than
500 dinosaurs, and more than ten species of dinosaurs were discovered. Twenty complete skeletons were unearthed.
We visited Dinosaur National Monument last
Wednesday and were able to explore the original quarry and even touch dinosaur
bones. The Quarry Exhibit Hall is
actually built over and into the side of the quarry, and what remains of the
quarry wall is exposed inside the building.
Looking up, or down, at a two-story high wall filled with more than 1,500
dinosaur bones was an amazing experience.
Most of the bones appeared randomly, but there were several sections of
articulated skeletons as well.
|Tim Walks Along the Quarry Wall Inside the Quarry Exhibit Hall|
|One of the More Impressive Dinosaur Fossils in the Quarry Wall|
|Exposed Dinosaur Bones|
|What a Amazing Sight|
|Tim Had to Be Convinced It Was Legal to Touch the Dinosaur Bones|
|The Exhibit Hall Also Contains Several Impressive Exhibits|
The original Quarry Exhibit Hall was
built in 1957 as a part of the National Park Service Mission 66 program and was
an outstanding example of modernist architecture. Unfortunately, the building’s foundation was
never stable, and long-standing structural problems forced the National Park
Service to close the building in 2006. Luckily,
I was able to see the building from the exterior when I visited the park in
2007, although like every other visitor, I could not see the quarry wall inside. Rangers we spoke with said the hardest part
of their job was telling people that the quarry wall was closed. Some of the visitors had come from half-way
around the world and were simply devastated.
There was no access to the quarry wall for five years.
The current building opened just last
year and is a beautiful piece of architecture.
It is billed as a rehabilitation of the original building, but it really
is a reconstruction. Virtually none of
the original structure remains, although the new building does maintain much of
the original design. I’m happy the
timing of our visit was such that we were able to go inside and see the quarry
|The Newly Opened Quarry Exhibit Hall|
|Landscape Adjacent to the Quarry Exhibit Hall|
We found that there is much more to see
at Dinosaur National Monument than just dinosaur bones. The deep and colorful canyons of the Green
and Yampa Rivers are preserved here, as are the historic remnants of ancient
cultures, settlers and homesteaders. We
took the Tour of the Tilted Rocks to discover some of these features. Along this route we were able to view some of
the finest-quality petroglyphs I’ve ever seen.
This rock art was made about 1,000 years ago by the people of the
Fremont Culture, and some of the images are enormous in size. Petroglyphs like the lizard likely took
months to complete.
|An Outstanding Collection of Petroglyphs|
|The Lizard Is a Favorite Figure|
We also visited the restored cabin
built by Josephine Bassett in 1935 on land she homesteaded in 1914. Josie was an independent woman who lived
alone here on her own terms. It is hard
to imagine the challenges she faced in this isolated and rugged, but beautiful
We followed the Green River for a while
and learned how the river was responsible for creating a host of amazing
geological features. The rugged ridge of
Split Mountain, which the Green River split in half, for example, loomed
alongside of us for much of the way. Colorful
cliffs and unusual rock formations only added to the spectacular scenery.
|Josie Bassett Cabin|
|The Green River Winds Its Way through the Park|
We drove to Dinosaur, Colorado, so we
could visit the Colorado section of Dinosaur National Monument tomorrow. For the first time on this trip, we were
unable to find a campground. The one where
we had planned to stay was virtually abandoned.
We didn’t have a good feeling about the place, so we dumped our tanks
and left. We never did see anyone
there. Thus began a search for a place
to camp in an area where there simply were no campgrounds.
|Cliffs Along the Green River|
By this time it was 6:00
pm, and we realized we would have to find a place to boondock, in other words,
park off of a main road in an area with no facilities. We turned onto a county road and then found a
dirt road managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). There was a nice open space to park, and that’s
where we camped for the night. I can’t
believe our first experience with boondocking took place the last week of our
|Our Boondocking Site|
What a cool exhibit hall! I can't believe they let you touch the bones either. I love petroglyphs! Had Tim seen these before? LVReplyDelete
LV, The exhibit hall is one of the most unique visitor centers I've ever seen. Touching the bones was very cool. Tim had never seen these petroglyphs, except in books, and he was impressed with their quality. SarahDelete