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Colorado Camping Fun Near Dinosaur National Monument
Thousands of dinosaurs lived, died and fossilized in this area of Colorado, offering a glimpse of their lives caught within the stone. Famous for fossil finds, enigmatic petroglyphs, beautiful river canyons, and never ending opportunities for adventure, Dinosaur National Monument is a terrific Colorado camping destination. The past inhabitants of this area lived for over 160 million years and 65 million years after they went extinct, their cousins the lizards, can still be found within the park. From hiking, fishing, biking, horseback riding and river rafting to beautiful scenic drives, this Monument really has something to offer everyone.
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The climate in Dinosaur National Monument is semiarid and varies greatly with elevation, starting around 4700’ going up to 9000’. Winter temperatures range from 0 to 30 degrees, and winter snow often makes high elevation roads inaccessible. Only moderate to light snow is found at the lower elevations. Summer ranges between 50 and 100 degrees, cooling off the further up you go. Summer thunderstorms are common and may cause flooding. The park is open year round, closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. Dinosaur fossils can only be seen in the Utah side of the park and the main exhibit is currently closed. A Temporary Visitor Center is open and shuttle trips are available out to the fossils. There are no entrance fees to the monument for 2010.
One of the best ways to see the park is by raft. Rafting down the Green and Yampa Rivers offers a unique and beautiful view of the canyons within the park. Permits and fees are required to raft through the park, although other parts of the river above and below the park do not require fees or permits. The rapids can be ferocious, and many are class III or IV, including Warm Springs and Hell’s Half Mile, so it is important to raft with experienced guides. Another excellent way to see Dinosaur National Monument is by hiking. There are a number of easy to strenuous hikes on established trails. The most popular hikes begin near the visitor centers. There are also more remote trails throughout the park. For the more adventurous hikers, off-trail hiking is a wonderful way to truly experience the beautiful and rugged park the way it was experienced hundreds of years ago. Whereever you decide to hike, remember that you are in the desert. Be sure to wear sunscreen, a hat, and to drink and carry plenty of water. If your time at Dinosaur National Monument is limited, there are two wonderful scenic drives through the monument. The Tour of the Tilted Rocks is a 13 mile (one way) road along Cub Creek Road. As you travel along, there are excellent views of the Green River, petroglyphs and pictographs, and there are some hiking trailheads. The Harpers Corner Scenic Drive is a 31 mile (one way) road that goes from the Canyon Area Visitor Center and ends at Harpers Corner. There are no fossils in this part of the park, although as you climb higher, the changing ecosystems are reflected in the scenery. There are also beautiful viewpoints that look out over the Green and Yampa Rivers. However you choose to experience Dinosaur National Monument, there is plenty to see and plenty to do for everyone.
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