Dinosaur National Monument A Guide to Exploring the Great Outdoors  by Bert and Jane Gildart

Dinosaur National Monument: A Guide to Exploring the Great Outdoors Guide Book

by Bert and Jane Gildart (Falcon Guides)
Dinosaur National Monument A Guide to Exploring the Great Outdoors  by Bert and Jane Gildart
Dinosaur National Monument on the Utah-Colorado border offers an awesome collection of dinosaur fossils, strikingly beautiful canyons, mysterious prehistoric rock art, and geological formations that span millions of years. Use A FalconGuide® to Dinosaur National Monument to explore the park's 330 square miles and discover the best scenic vistas and wilderness experiences in this remarkable and ancient landscape. Look inside to find: comprehensive information about Douglass Dinosaur Quarry; facts about the area's history, flora and fauna, and weather detailed maps, trail descriptions, driving tours, and nature hikes; options for running the Green River and the Yampa River; and lists of monument contacts, commercial raft companies, and shuttle services.

© 2005 Bert and Jane Gildart/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Dinosaur National Monument: A Guide to Exploring the Great Outdoors" Guide Book
Displaying trails 15 of 15.

Displaying trails 1 to 15 of 15.

If you’re exploring the Cold Desert Trail on a July day, you may disagree with the designation of this 0.25-mile-long path. “Cold Desert,” however, is apt. The trail is located at an elevation of about 6,000 feet, and the monument itself is located in a more northern latitude. Therefore the term cold is appropriate. But the term desert is also correct. The trail is located on the lee side of the Wasatch Range and receives very little moisture. How does life adapt to such extremes? In part that’s what this hike explains. But the hike offers more. Because of a flash flood in 1999, the hike provides insights into the effects of sudden and heavy water in an area that normally receives only 6 to 8 inches of rain over the span of an entire year.
Dinosaur, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.25
Desert Voices Nature Trail provides a 2-mile hike through the desert environment and offers excellent views of famous Split Mountain. If you are hiking the trail late on a well-lit summer day, watch how the sun seems to separate Split Mountain into two units. This moderately strenuous hike offers interpretations of a number of unique desert aspects. And because many of the signs and pictures along the route were created by children (the tan signs), this is a good trek on which to include young people.
Jensen, UT - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
From its description this road sounds a bit ominous. Generally, however, it’s not that rough, and it is spectacular scenically and historically. It is also one of the few roads in the monument from which the Green and Yampa Rivers can be accessed and their shores explored on foot. Sometimes rafters use the road as a takeout from the Green River. With a permit, others use it as a river put-in point for multiday river trips only. If you drive slowly, Echo Park Road becomes another backcountry adventure. Note the monument sign at the entrance to the road cautioning PASSENGER CARS NOT ADVISED. NO TRAILERS. IMPASSABLE WHEN WET. If you disregard the cautionary sign, the road could become a real adventure—there are steep switchbacks for the first 2 miles. ROAD CONDITIONS: Poor (rutted) dirt/gravel road. Best for four-wheel-drive or high-clearance vehicles. The road is impassable when wet and is often closed under these conditions. It is open only in summer and fall.
Dinosaur, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 26
This short, easy hike takes you above the Green River, which is flowing somewhat placidly here out of the Browns Park area. You can walk to the beginning of the Canyon of Lodore, where river runners are abruptly thrust into the riffles and rapids of this incredibly beautiful, rugged area. The hike is intended to introduce visitors to the red cliffs of the canyon and the flora and fauna of the area. You’ll see an abundance of cheatgrass here, a nonnative invasive grass that most animals cannot eat. Lichen cover the rocks. Since lichen are sensitive to air pollution, the brighter the colors the cleaner the air. So far, pollution evidently hasn’t taken hold here. Another amazing phenomenon is that you are actually standing on the Uinta Mountain Group, which comprises some of the oldest rocks in the monument. Because the geology here is complex but fascinating, we suggest purchasing a book or pamphlet on Dinosaur’s rocks. The Green River cut right across the mountains here and carved out the Canyon of Lodore. Utah juniper trees grow here as well as some piñon pine. Plants such as black greasewood, saltbush, and sagebrush also do well.
Maybell, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
Because this hike is mostly downhill, it is an easy hike. We say mostly downhill, but there are places involving a bit of rock scrambling if the ranger leading the hike that day wishes to point out some still-imbedded dinosaur bones. For most the hike would be meaningless unless you joined one of the scheduled interpretive walks with a park ranger. In fact, in the interest of preserving Dinosaur’s fossils, the park discourages individuals from striking out alone. But make this hike you should, for the short hike descends through six geological formations—meaning that when you reach the bottom, you will have hiked through eighty million years of time. The formation is a repository of gastropods and other marine organisms. It is also the area in which our ranger/naturalist guide showed us petrified wood. When you realize these fossils existed during the time dinosaurs roamed the area, you understand what an incredible sight you are seeing. Also present in the Morrison Formation was chert, a dark rock used by Indians for making arrowheads.
Dinosaur, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
This driving tour is intended to introduce visitors to the canyon country of the monument, along the Green and Yampa Rivers. No dinosaur fossils are available for viewing in this area, and camping is not allowed along the route. As you’ll see from your map, most of the drive is actually in Colorado, outside the monument. The road crosses into Utah and finally, at Mile 27.5, enters the park and reenters Colorado. The drive offers twenty-three numbered stops, all of which provide excellent interpretation of the canyons, formations, trees, and plants of the area. The first short, easy, 0.5-mile walk on the tour leaves from just behind the visitor center and is called the Cold Desert Hike. This very informative hike explains how certain plants and animals exist in this arid high-desert ecosystem located at the edge of the Great Basin Desert. ROAD CONDITIONS: Paved road the entire way. No facilities on the road. Pit toilets at picnic areas and overlooks.
Dinosaur, CO - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 64
For those who enjoy up-close and personal dramas, ones that have allowed geologists and botanists to unlock mysteries of the past, Harpers Corner may satisfy that urge. But because most won’t have the geological or botanical insights of a research scientist, we won’t make Harpers Corner a mystery walk. Still, as you begin your hike, you might start with a puzzle. Begin by questioning the presence of the reddish rocks along the trail. How did they get here? The rock is a type of sandstone, and if you examine one you’ll see it is composed of a fine sand that pressure has compacted into a solid piece. Despite its compact appearance, if you tapped it with a light hammer, the rock would crack apart, revealing a sand-like consistency. Put another way, how can this sandstone be higher than its source of origin? To answer that question we must look for additional clues. Look now at some of the other rocks along the trail, and you may see they are embedded with fossils.
Dinosaur, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
Hog Canyon Trail provides one of the park’s most delightful short hikes, passing through several habitat types, including a canyon of high cliffs that offers a delightful reprieve from summer heat. The trail begins to the east of the Josie Morris Cabin near a small spring. Adjacent to the spring the park provides several signs that interpret the significance of water to Josie and to others in the West. Josie fought for her water rights and eventually constructed a series of small dams intended to trap the water so necessary for her cattle. On hot days Box Canyon offers a pleasant short stroll to the end of the second of Josie Morris’s canyons. It was another place where she was able to corral her livestock with natural fences on three sides.
Jensen, UT - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.25
Getting to the trailhead involves some driving, but don’t despair—the scenery en route to Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery is spectacular. The road winds up Diamond Mountain, which offers beautiful views and passes scattered ranches with acres and acres of sagebrush fields. Archaeologists have been able to determine from their finds that the shelter area probably was used for some 7,000 years by the Great Basin, the Uncompahgre Plateau, and the Northwestern Plains cultures. Few places like this exist. Furthermore, researchers were able to trace the progression of sophistication of these peoples from use of the spear to the atlatl to the bow and arrow. Occupancy of Deluge Shelter was between 5000 B.C. and A.D. 1850.
Vernal, UT - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 8
Rainbow-colored rocks (derived from iron, manganese, and other elements) abound, as well as mesas and buttes. The angles of the bedrock here are interesting; they don’t change overly much due to lack of rain and soil cover. In the distance you’ll see the Morrison Formation (about 148 million years old), famous for its hidden secrets—the Jurassic period fossil bones of the great Brontosaurus, smaller dinosaurs, mammals, and amphibians that once thrived here.
Dinosaur, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.25
Sound of Silence is not intended to be a marked hiking trail. It is referred to as a route and is intended to challenge you to find your way around this loop (clockwise). It is designed as a lesson in minimum-impact desert hiking so that you might feel more comfortable hiking farther at another time. Arrows are placed at strategic locations, helping to guide you to each of the twenty-six numbered markers. If you pay close attention, you won’t get lost! As you begin the hike, you are 1 mile above sea level.
Dinosaur, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5
The Green River threads its way for 44 miles through the monument. It can be floated by joining a private concession or independently by obtaining a permit. Four-day permits are most typical and facilitate the acquisition of your campsite of choice. You can apply for a longer trip (five days instead of four, with an additional fee), but this is not always possible during high-use season. The 730-mile-long Green River originates at Stroud Glacier, high on the west side of the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming among glacial lakes and mountain cascades. The 44 miles running through Dinosaur National Monument begin as the river flows out of Browns Park into Lodore and runs through the Uinta Mountains (which run east-west). When you launch your boat, you will be in water that was once snowmelt and that originated in the Wind River Range. You’ll also be drifting through land that was home to tribes of the Shoshone Indians. As John Wesley Powell wrote, “It is a great hunting and fishing region, and the vigorous Shoshones still obtain a part of their livelihood from mesa and plain, river and lake.”
Dinosaur, CO - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 44
The Yampa River flows for 46 miles through Dinosaur National Monument. You can join a private raft company or float on your own with a permit. Here most of the fish and wildlife that depend on wild canyons remain, and the river vegetation is in its natural state. Here, too, the towering multicolored canyons with all their beauty still have the power to awe mankind; they have not been reduced to tiny protrusions above a vast pool of water, such as found at Lake Powell or Flaming Gorge. For most these features help make the Yampa one of their favorite rivers. Appropriately the Yampa has majestic beginnings, initiating its flow in the Flat Tops of northwestern Colorado outside the monument. Here the river gathers snowmelt and begins its journey to its confluence with the Green at Echo Park. Thus the river remains in Colorado for its entirety. Because the river’s depth depends so much on runoff, the Yampa is best floated in spring and early summer.
Dinosaur, CO - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 46
The Tour of the Tilted Rocks is an excellent introduction to the many facets of Dinosaur National Monument. Many visitors tour the quarry first and then drive this short auto tour. There are interpretive signs and short walks along the way, so you’re not always stuck in a vehicle. The route has fifteen numbered stops and two short enjoyable hikes at the end. Sights to be seen begin with the Swelter Shelter, an alcove once used by Paleo-Indian and Fremont people. Here you can view both pictographs and petroglyphs made by the Fremont people perhaps 1,000 years ago.
Dinosaur, CO - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 22
Like its neighboring road, Echo Park, Yampa Bench Road is worth the effort, and your time is well spent on this trip into the heart of Dinosaur National Monument. We decided that the road conditions may well depend on the time of year and whether a road grader has been through the area. On the day of our drive, we found Yampa Bench Road to be in surprisingly good condition; it was only rough and rocky ascending Hells Canyon. The road parallels the Yampa River the entire way, quite high above it on the towering cliffs. There are five designated pullouts where you can park and wander out to the overlooks for some incredible views and beautiful photo opportunities. ROAD CONDITIONS: The road is unpaved and very rough in places, especially around Hells Canyon. It is best for four-wheel-drive or high-clearance vehicles. The road is impassable when wet.
Dinosaur, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 61
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