Bone up on your reptile knowledge in fossil-rich areas
Was your childhood filled with thoughts of Tyrannosaurus Rex and Pterodactyls? Do seeing ancient petroglyphs and pictographs up close delight you beyond belief? If you answered "yes" to either of those questions then the next vacation you need to plan is to Uintah County, Utah, home of Dinosaurland.
The largest town in Uintah County is Vernal. The lush mountains around Vernal serve as a backdrop for all of your explorations. Vernal is a four-season community. Spring brings rebirth to the mountains. You'll see beautiful colors in all of the wildflowers and new growth trees. In the summer you'll be able to hike on the area's many trails. Fall brings its own spectacular color show, and winter will encourage you to shine up your cross-country skis. Vernal is also home to one of the largest quarries of ancient Jurassic-era dinosaur bones in the country.
In the early 1900s one of the richest men in America was steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. One of his philanthropies was a museum located in downtown Pittsburgh, The Carnegie Museum of Natural History. When Carnegie first heard about a dinosaur being found in Wyoming, he knew he needed one for his Pittsburgh museum so he dispatched a team to Wyoming to find him one. They did find him one there, but then Carnegie bought thousands of acres of land in Utah, specifically in search of a dinosaur or two. Instead they found 1,500! The Carnegie Quarry, which is now the Dinosaur National Monument, keeps all those bones perfectly preserved for visitors to touch and see, including a portion of the actual excavation wall where the first fossils were found.
Visitors to the park will see the remains of allosaurus, apatosaurus, camarasaurus, diplodicus and stegosaurus as well as pieces of many more. Within the monument you'll be able to visit the renovated exhibit hall located about a quarter of a mile from the park's visitor center. At the visitors center you'll just hop on a shuttle that leave every 15 minutes.
The remnants of the past in Dinosaur National Monument aren't only echoes of the past. There are also hints of an ancient culture that can be found on various rock structures throughout the park. The ancient natives of the area known as the Fremont carved designs into many of the rocks' faces. Visitors will be able to view lizard and snake carvings as well as renderings of many other types of wildlife. There are also a number of carvings that resemble people.
After you've seen the real life fossils at the Dinosaur National Monument, you'll need to make your next stop at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum. Here, you'll find vivid murals and maps embedded into the tile floors that will help visitors connect with real-time places they've already seen in Vernal. Oh, and don't forget about the dinosaurs. Dinosaur lovers young and old will not be disappointed when they see how many exhibits there are that give an up-close-and-personal view of some of their favorite creatures both inside and outside of the museum.
Boating and Fishing
If you've had your fill of dinosaurs, you may want to get your fishing rod for this next adventure. There are four lakes in the area that offer fishing and boating. The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area welcomes nearly two-million visitors a year for the hiking, boating, swimming and fishing. Visitors also love the natural beauty of the Steinaker Reservoir with its sandy beaches and abundance of rainbow trout and small mouth bass. Starvation Reservoir is set in the low, dry foothills and the Red Fleet Reservoir with its crimson rocks and crystal blue waters will make every photographer happy.
Boaters on the lakes can go waterskiing, scuba diving and wind surfing.
Hiking and Biking
Hiking and biking trails are just about everywhere you look in Uintah County. There are nearly two dozen hiking and biking trails throughout the county. Some are for more advanced hikers, so be sure to check a map before you start your walk. One trail in particular, the Red Canyon Rim, is designed for beginners but will keep the intermediate hiker busy. This trail will thrill your senses with the spectacular beauty of the area.
All those trails that are great in the summer months transform themselves into really great cross-country skiing trails in the winter. There are also a few additional trails open to snowmobiles.
If you brought your clubs just in case you could find a public course, you're in luck, because Uintah County has two outstanding public golf courses.
For More Information:
Utah Travel Council