A trip to see dinosaurs

Did you know that there is a U.S. national monument devoted to dinosaurs? Dinosaur National Monument spans across northeast Utah and northwest Colorado where the Yampa River joins the Green River.

In a major excavation in 1909, paleontologists discovered a dinosaur fossil bed in Utah that contained thousands of fossils of a wide range of dinosaurs.

Some of those dinosaurs were depicted in a little exhibit to show the scale of a 6’ tall park ranger against the size of a Ceratosaurus, Camptosaurus, and a Camarasaurus.

The display of dinosaur bones is one of the most impressive displays we’ve seen in a national park and the quarry had so many fossils it was able to supply many well known institutions, like the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.

Earl Douglass, a paleontologist from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, discovered the first dinosaurs in the quarry.  Imagine the thrill of discovering so many bones of so many different dinosaurs in such a small area?

He encouraged the federal government to preserve the quarry wall for all future visitors.  Six years after its discovery, President Woodrow Wilson created Dinosaur National Monument.

Today, visitors can see the actual preserved quarry and even touch the dinosaur bones.

Word must have spread very quickly after the discovery as it was literally just a few days later that people started to visit the quarry to see for themselves.

A few miles from the Quarry Visitor Center we viewed the colorful rocks in the distance. They are part of the Morrison Formation. Paleontologists have found dinosaur bones here as well.

The Morrison formation started as mud and sand by ancient rivers.  Dinosaurs were plentiful when the area thrived but as soon as the rivers dried up, many died and their bones were preservedin the old river beds.  At some later time the rains returned and the dinosaur bones became buried in mud and sand.

Dinosaurs captivated us as children, and we find ourselves still fascinated by them.  Dinosaur National Monument has so many more interesting things to see, but it would take a lot to top our first view of the quarry.


July 2018

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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6 Responses to A trip to see dinosaurs

  1. Thanks for introducing another little known destination. Hopefully, next time I’m in Colorado I can entice (drag?) my grandson into coming along with me for a visit! I agree, dinosaurs bring out the child in us too! Anita

  2. icelandpenny says:

    I didn’t know about this park, and I’m glad to learn — and to see. Thanks. And do you know about Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site? https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/71 (not sure this is clickable but you could copy-paste) — also worth a visit, for all the same reasons

    • We didn’t know about this park but they sound very much alike. One advantage to Canada’s park: it would be a lot cooler! We faced very hot temperatures in the Utah/Colorado park in mid-summer.

      • icelandpenny says:

        Dinosaur Provincial Park probably not much cooler in summer – it’s away from any large moderating body of water and would get pretty hot. (Though not as hot as in dinosaur days…)

  3. plaidcamper says:

    An enthralling place to be, and we will be sure to visit next time we are heading that way. Like you, and children of all ages, we love dinosaurs!

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