Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument

Quick Facts

Dinosaur National Monument

Colorado

(406) 243-6933

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Dinosaur National Monument's cultural history dates back 10,000 years. The Yampa and Green Rivers have provided water for survival in an arid country. Indian rock art in the form of petroglyphs and pictographs provide evidence that many people have come before us. The Fremont Indians lived in the canyons in Dinosaur National Monument 800 - 1,200 years ago. Following the Fremont were the Ute and Shoshone, who are still found in the area today. Early settlers left their mark on the landscape with their homesteads. Those who had access to the rivers and a constant flow of water survived, while others dried up with drought and moved away. Now, many of the remains of homesteads are found along side the Indian art work of the past.

The diversity of life in Dinosaur's rugged environment is a reflection of climate, geography, and the complexity of the landscape itself. The monument provides habitat for more than 1,000 native species of plants and animals and includes more than 200,000 acres of river canyons, mountains, and basins. Elevations range from under 4,750 feet (1,448 meters) near the Quarry to over 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) at Zenobia Peak. Twenty-three exposed geological strata combine with elevation and topography to create the many habitats that support plant and animal life.

Popular things to see while visiting Dinosaur National Monument include fossils, petroglyphs, pictographs, scenic vistas, and historic homesites. There are also many recreational opportunities for the adventure seeker such as hiking, fishing, and one of the most popular activities, river rafting.

NOTE: Dinosaur National Monument is located on the Colorado and Utah border and has entrances in both states. See the driving directions section for more details.

Map of Dinosaur

Latitude, Longitude: 40.245991, -108.980286

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Activities

  • Bicycling

    Bicycling is allowed on any road within Dinosaur National Monument, but is not allowed on any trail. Paved roads within the monument are narrow, and often have no shoulders. Bicyclists should take proper measures to stay safe, such as riding single-file, wearing bright and/or reflective clothing, and being aware of your surroundings. Be advised that there are no bicycle racks within the monument.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Popular scenic drives are the 'Journey Through Time' and 'The Tour of The Tilted Rocks'.

  • Camping

    Free backcountry permits are required for overnight stays outside established campgrounds. For experienced backpackers, there are many opportunities for backcountry camping at Dinosaur National Monument. The beauty and solitude are inspiring. But the terrain is isolated and rugged, and it is very difficult to find water in the backcountry. Good planning is essential.

    Individual/family campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are multiple campsites located at Dinosaur for visitors

  • Climbing

    Most sandstone within Dinosaur National Monument is not suitable for rock climbing. Choose your route carefully and follow monument regulations.

  • Fishing

    Fishing is allowed in Dinosaur National Monument, subject to the regulations of the state in which you are fishing. A valid state fishing license is required for fishing even though the monument is federal land.

    Anglers are reminded that there are four endangered species of fish found in rivers in the monument: Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, humpback chub, and bonytail. These fish should be immediately released with as little harm possible if caught.

  • Hiking

    Hiking in Dinosaur is an excellent way to appreciate the park's scenery and rugged landscape. The most popular trails begin near the visitor centers and the two paved tour roads. Other trails begin at more remote locations.

  • Historic Sites

    Located seven miles off US Highway 40 from Jensen, Utah, the Quarry Visitor Center serves as the starting point for a Dinosaur National Monument adventure. The visitor center features an information desk staffed year-round, exhibits about the monument, a theater, sales area for the Intermountain Natural History Association, restrooms and departure point for the shuttle to the Quarry Exhibit Hall.

    A short distance from the visitor center, the Quarry Exhibit Hall is located on the site of the world-famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry. The exhibit hall provides access to viewing a cliff face with nearly 1,500 dinosaur bones still embedded in the rock. In addition to the fossil wall, the facility features exhibits and displays about dinosaurs and other life from the Jurassic.

    The Fossil Discovery Trail leads from the Quarry Visitor Center and cuts through tilted rock layers, exposing a great variety of rocks and three fossil areas. The Morrison Formation stop features an outcropping of several small pieces and a few large pieces of dinosaur bones in their natural state as Earl Douglass found them in 1909.

  • Horseback Riding

    Pack and saddle stock, including horses, mules, burros, and llamas, are permitted in Dinosaur National Monument. Regulations limit the use of pack or saddle stock within the monument for the purpose of protecting resources and the enjoyment of other visitors. All other domestic animals are prohibited in the backcountry. The monument recommends that stock be fed weed-free feed for 48 hours before entering in the monument. Only certified weed-free pellets and cubes, but no hay, may be taken into the backcountry. Animals may not be left unattended at any time. Park vegetation may not be consumed.

    Day use is allowed without a permit. All overnight trips in Dinosaur National Monument's backcountry require a permit. Contact the park for more information about horseback riding.

  • Picnicking

    Picnic areas are located at several overlooks along the Harpers Corner Scenic Drive and at the Split Mountain Campground and the Josie Bassett homesite along the Tour of the Tilted Rocks auto route. Each picnic area has tables, fireplaces and vault toilets. Picnickers are welcome to use the campgrounds when space is available.

  • Water Sports

    Dinosaur National Monument is a legacy of rivers, from the ancient river that deposited the fossils of the Quarry Area to the present day Green and Yampa rivers. One of the best ways to see the park is on a river trip through its canyons. Experience the thundering fury of Warm Springs, Hells Half Mile and other rapids, and sit on a quiet beach and escape the pressures of everyday life.

    The Green River between the Gates of Lodore and Split Mountain should never be mistaken for a simple river. Even today, many a boat ends up pinned on rocks and many a boatmen bruised and battered. Gates of Lodore contains multiple challenging Class III and Class IV rapids while the Yampa River sports many Class III rapids and one Class IV known as Warm Springs Rapid, which has a hydraulic named Maytag that has the tendency to flip boats.

  • Winter Sports

    Snowmobiling is permitted on Harpers Corner Drive between the Plug Hat Parking Area and the Echo Park Road turnoff. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are also permitted.

Seasonality/Weather

Dinosaur's climate is semiarid. Moderate snow, foggy days, and subzero nights occur in the winter. Thunderstorms with locally heavy rain are common spring through fall.

Park Partners

Intermountain Natural History Association

The Intermountain Natural History Association operates a bookstore inside of the Quarry Visitor Center. A wide range of books, maps, trail guides and other items is available from the bookstore. Topics include fossils, paleontology, desert ecology, Native American rock art, river-running and wildlife. With every book bought in the DinoStore, you can help to support the programs and resources at Dinosaur National Monument. The proceeds from your purchases goes toward helping maintain and improve the exhibits, brochures, and interpretive programs in the monument. These activities are made possible by the Intermountain Natural History Association.

Intermountain Natural History Association is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization created to aid the educational and scientific activities of the National Park Service at Dinosaur and Fossil Butte national monuments, the U.S. Forest Service at the Ashley, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache national forests and the Bureau of Land Management at the John Jarvie Historic Property in Browns Park. The profits from all bookstore sales are donated back to these public lands. Since INHA's inception in 1956, donations have exceeded $2.5 million.

Donations are given to the agencies to support specific activities or projects. These can include production and printing of newspapers, construction of information kiosks, or the financing of roadside displays, trail guides, and handouts. INHA donations help to purchase items as large as the cast skeleton of Allosaurus at Dinosaur, and as small as a roll of film for documenting projects.

The organization was founded in 1956 as the Dinosaur Nature Association. In 1999, it expanded beyond its relationship with the National Park Service to begin serving the USDA Forest Service and the BLM. To better reflect these relationships, in 2002 it officially became Intermountain Natural History Association.

INHA's offices are located just outside the Dinosaur National Monument boundary on the Utah side of the park, four miles north of US Highway 40 on Utah State Road 149. The physical address is: 2430 South 9500 East Jensen, UT 84035 Turn north at the Sinclair station!

(800) 845-3466

Directions

Driving

Dinosaur National Monument is located in both Colorado and Utah. Each state also provides a chance to visit very distinctive areas of the monument. The east side of the monument located in Colorado provides access to deep canyons along the Green and Yampa rivers. Dramatic views are available along the Harpers Corner Road. The west side of the monument located in Utah features the world-famous dinosaur quarry where visitors can see over 1,500 fossils still embedded in the cliff face.

The Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall and Quarry Visitor Center, one-half mile from the Quarry, are open year round. They are found by taking Highway 149 north from Jensen, UT to the park. Rangers lead visitors up to the Quarry by car caravans between October and April.

The Canyon Visitor Center is located just off U.S. Highway 40, two miles east of Dinosaur, CO. There are no fossil displays in the canyon area of the park. This visitor center closes during winter; call ahead for hours. The Colorado Welcome Center is located 2 miles from the Canyon Visitor Center and they are open daily through November, but closed during the winter. The Welcome Center is located in the town of Dinosaur, CO.

Flying

Flying in to Grand Junction, CO or Salt Lake City, UT would probably be the least expensive way to fly to Dinosaur. It is roughly a 3 hour drive from Salt Lake to the park in a rental vehicle, just over 2 hours from Grand Junction. Vernal, UT does have an airport and a few flights shuttle between it at Salt Lake every day.

Public Transportation

There are no transportation services to the park such as a taxi or bus. You must have your own transportation. For private river runners vehicle and passenger shuttle service is available from Wilkins Bus lines (435) 789-2476 and River Runners Transport (435) 781-1120.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(406) 243-6933

Links