Sunday, July 12, 2015

Dinosaur National Monument

July 6 - 8, 2015:

I am backed up a couple of blog posts as we wander around the wilds with poor phone and internet, that's part of the compromised life style we lead,  As a result, this post and the preceding one are being published on the same day. 

We continue with our Dinosaur quest today with a move to Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah.  We took route 139 north through farm country, then into the mountains, then up and over Douglass Pass at 8,268 feet to Rangely, Colorado.  We then took route 64 to the town of Dinosaur, Colorado.  Dinosaur National Monument straddles the Colorado-Utah border with the Canyon Visitors Center and viewpoints just east of Dinosaur, Colorado and the Quarry Visitor Center and facilities about 30 miles west near Jensen, Utah.  We stopped at the Canyon area first, parked the RV and took the Jeep for a ride on Harpers Corner Road into the park to the Canyon Overlook.  The wide open canyon vistas were fantastic but a thunderstorm was brewing and we were soon in the rain.  We returned to the visitors center for the RV and proceeded to Jensen, Utah and the Quarry area.  We easily found a first come, first served campsite in the Green River campground under a huge Cottonwood Tree with incredible views of the mountains.  It is a dry camping site, no frills but very peaceful and scenic.  We had a fairly heavy thunderstorm soon after getting set up to add to the excitement.

Heading back into the mountains

Distant hazy views on the Colorado side of the Monument

Pretty nice campsite view

Looking down on the campground from above

Dinosaur National Monument is one of the prominent Dinosaur areas in the World.  Paleontologist Earl Douglass discovered and excavated Dinosaur fossils here in 1915 for the Carnegie Museum.  As a result, the original 80 acre Dinosaur quarry area was protected as a National Monument in 1915.  It was latter increased to 210,000 acres in 1938.  The Monument is way more than just Dinosaurs bones, the Green River flows through it, the geology and scenery is incredible, there are ancient Fremont indian pit house sites, artifacts and petroglyphs and much wildlife.  It has a mountain view that rivals about anything I have seen.  John Wesley Powell floated down the Green River and the Colorado River during his epic adventure to map this virtually unknown portion of the country in 1869 and 1871.

The Grand River over the years has cut though the mountain
at a place named Split Mountain

After a rain storm the Green River turns into the Red River

Nice river rocks

Another great iPhone picture

This rabbit just sat there a few feet away, it wasn't so
hard to kill a rabbit back in the pioneer days

Those mountains were incredible

They call it Turtle Rock

Driving up this red rock area the sight of those white
mountains stopped me in my tracks

Is that an IFO in the photo ?  Actually is a dragonfly

Fremont indian petroglyphs

Amazing how it has lasted so long

We hiked the “sounds of silence trail” that followed a wash into a beautiful canyon area, amazing topography !  It was all the more special due to the rainfall on Monday which brought out the colors of the soil, erased most of the footprints and provided fresh water flow patterns in the washes.  The cool factor of this trail was that it followed these small narrow washes between hillsides and red rock walls with fantastic colors and erosion. I also hiked the connecting trail, Desert Voices, another winner.

The Sounds of Silence trail

Following a narrow wash through the canyon

Walking down on the smooth slick rock

The main attraction at the Monument is the Quarry building.  This is located in the original dinosaur quarry initially excavated in 1915.  They cleared away the top level of rock to expose the dinosaur bones on a hillside and constructed a building over it all as an exhibit area.  It is amazing to see the quantity of bones spread out on this hillside.

The actual hillside with the dinosaur bones exposed as found

The kids really appreciate this stuff

A replica and a painting for comparison

Close up of the Dinosaur bones

The Cub Creek road through the park has many scenic view points, we did them all as it is only about 15 miles total.  There are a couple of viewing areas for Fremont indian petroglyphs that are very good and an old ranch site.  Josie Morris after being married 5 times chose a single life, I suppose she was hard to live with ?   She then settled on this remote ranch in 1914 where she raised cattle, pigs, chickens and geese.  She lived alone and worked this ranch into her eighties, she was one tough lady !  There is a box canyon which was used as a natural corral with great views that is a short hike.  Also a hike to a meadow area, Hog Canyon, with a pond and more great views.

Jose's cabin

Box Canyon corral

Close up of erosion patterns in rock

Then look up

Ancient Cottonwood Tree in Hog Canyon area

Across the river from the campground is the Chew family ranch, early area settlers in the 1880’s and still in operation today and appearing to be prosperous.  They now have an enormous irrigated crop circle of hay fields.

Next stop is Flaming Gorge Recreation Area at Dutch John, Utah,
Twinkles and Slick

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