Adventurous Places

Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument
Written by Sudhir Kumar

Dinosaur National Monument is a Beautiful Place For Vacations. Dinosaur National Monument covers over 211,000 acres of spectacular canyon country.The Visitor’s Center is located two miles east of the town of Dinosaur on U.S. Highway 40 and provides specific maps and information about this panoramic area.The National Monument provides scenic drives, nature trails for hiking, and incredible rafting and fishing opportunities on the Green and Yampa rivers.Dinosaur National Monument spans Colorado and Utah. On the Utah side, there are opportunities to see fossils on exhibit and by the trail. There is an auto tour, petroglyphs and great views of the Green River.The Moffat County entrance to the monument is is 90 miles from Craig on U.S. Highway 40 (see map below) via Harper’s Corner, a scenic route visitors call a glimpse of a “mini-grand canyon.” There are several overlooks, hiking trails and camping opportunities throughout Dinosaur National Monument. The Moffat County side is consider the canyon side. This area preserves the canyons of the Green and Yampa Rivers, a rich human history, and geological features that are easily viewed from the several scenic drives.

Geology of Dinosaur National Monument

The rock layer enclosing the fossils is a sandstone and conglomerate bed of alluvial or river bed origin known as the Morrison Formation from theJurassic Period some 150 million years old. The dinosaurs and other ancient animals were washed into the area and buried presumably during flooding events. The pile of sediments were later buried and lithified into solid rock. The layers of rock were later uplifted and tilted to their present angle by the mountain building forces that formed the Uintas. The relentless forces of erosion exposed the layers at the surface to be found by paleontologists.

History & Culture of Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument’s cultural history dates back at least 10,000 years. The Yampa and Green Rivers provide water for survival in an arid country. Indian rock art in the form of petroglyphs and pictographs reveal 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 still inhabit communities in the area today. Spanish explorers crossed the region in the 1700s. In the 1800s, settlers from Europe and the eastern United States arrived in the area and 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 alongside the Indian art work of the past.

Things To Do

Dinosaurs once roamed here, their stories captured in the rock around you. However, that is only one chapter in a billion years of Earth’s history exposed in the monument’s striking scenery.Dinosaur National Monument contains famous fossil finds, dramatic river canyons, mysterious petroglyphs, and endless opportunities for adventure. All of this awaits your discovery.Start your journey at one of the monument’s visitor centers. Drive the Tour of the Tilted Rocks or take a scenic drive on the Harpers Corner Road. Experience one of the monument’s many hiking trails. Soak up the adventure on a river rafting trip. Discover dinosaur and other fossils. Join a ranger for a guided program. Park staff offer talks, walks, junior ranger, evening and night sky programs. Stay overnight at a campground. Enjoy night skies while stargazing. Or just lounge by the river and take in all that Dinosaur National Monument has to offer.

Nature & Science

Dinosaur National Monument preserves a wide variety of resources both from the past and today. The geological and paleontological resources that exist in the park provide glimpses into environments millions of years ago and some of the plant and animals that lived then. The Carnegie Fossil Quarry is world renowned and specimens from it are featured in museums across the globe popular travel destinations.Today, 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.

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Sudhir Kumar

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