What is our limit for camping in the heat? We can now say we have reached it. In a week of camping we jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
When we camped at Great Basin National Park in Nevada, the temperatures topped out at 97 degrees F (36 degrees C). Fortunately, our tent was nestled in a shady spot. An overarching tree partially shaded the picnic table. Not so bad, we thought, as we sipped a cold drink at the café in the Visitor Center.
We took off next for Dinosaur National Monument and looked forward to setting up our tent in a shady campground on the Green River in Utah. We were dismayed to discover that the trees and bushes didn’t throw shade on where the actual tent would sit in the afternoon hours. We found a very nice site close to the river that was shady only in the cooler morning hours. What a disappointment!
Early morning was relatively comfortable. By 10:45am the temperature was pretty uncomfortable and by late afternoon it hit between the high 90’s and 102 degrees F (36-39 degrees C). The landscape around us was open and arid – offering little protection from the intense sun.
We really needed to beat the heat. So, how did we do it? Here were our 4 solutions for those unbearably hot afternoons.
#1 – Take a shady walk
We noted that in this whole huge park of 210,844 acres (853 sq. km), there was one place that had two shady walks: the ranch of Josie Bassett Morris.
The Morris Homestead was settled in 1914, the house rebuilt in 1935 (with no water or electricity), and Josie lived there by herself until 1964 when she broke her hip. She died later that year at the age of 89.
The two shady walks were wooded box canyons near her cabin where she grazed her livestock.
#2 – Spend time at the (air-conditioned) Visitor Center and the Quarry Visitor Center
The first day we headed for the prime attraction at Dinosaur National Monument: the Quarry Visitor Center.
We spent a good long time at the quarry exhibit which was actually a real quarry with dinosaur bones exposed. The exhibit building was constructed to encompass the quarry wall, with some the many dinosaur bones intact that have been discovered since 1909.
#3 – Take an auto tour of Cub Creek Road
When the heat became unbearable, we headed for the air-conditioned car and toured one of the park’s roads with a $1 auto tour booklet picked up at the Visitor Center.
Some of the petroglyphs in Dinosaur National Monument were visible from the road. In reading more about the Monument, we discovered that there are many more petroglyphs not listed on park maps due to risk of vandalism.
#4 – Drive east for a tasty treat in Dinosaur, Colorado
We took off east and headed for the nearest town 31 miles away (18 km). Dinosaur is a very small town with only a few businesses. How lucky for us to find the perfect place to have lunch and spend a few hours.
Bedrock Depot may not look like much but what a great place to eat! The food was fresh, high quality and very tasty. The owner told us she makes the burger buns herself as well as the ice cream.
Definitely plan to stop to have some of her luscious chocolate-cinnamon ice cream if you’re ever in Dinosaur, Colorado.
#5 – Drive west for the library in Vernal, Utah
We solved our problem of needing a cool place to sit and access to the internet by a trip to the wonderful county library – an 18 mile (10.8 km) drive from our campsite.
An impressive entrance encouraged us…
…and the magazine room with overstuffed chairs became a comfortable place to spend a delightful afternoon reading.
We managed the heat better than we ever thought we could have. But, when we saw the forecast for the 4th day was going to be just as hot AGAIN, we decided enough was enough and took off for the high Rocky Mountains to the east. The temperatures there were 15 degrees lower. That sounded appealing to us.