Dinosaur National Monument is located on the border between Colorado and Utah. If you’re planning a visit to this beautiful National Monument use this guide to help plan your trip. This park actually crosses the border between Colorado and Utah with most of the Monument area located in Moffat County in Colorado and the actual Dinosaur Quarry located across the line in Utah. just north of Jensen, Utah. The nearest towns are Dinosaur in Colorado and Vernal in Utah.
History of Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument has a long history both as a protected monument and before as a paleontological hotspot.
The area was populated by the Freemont people through approximately 1300. This civilization made use of the many rock overhangs and caves of the region for shelter and subsisted mostly on native plants and wildlife along with some limited farming and irrigation. The fate of the Freemont people is not well understood but theories include their moving due to changes to local climate or the influence of other cultures.
The discovery of dinosaur fossil beds in the area by paleontologist Earl Douglass happened in 1909 with his discovery of eight vertebrae of an Apatosaurus. This find ended up being the first dinosaur skeleton excavated in what would become the Carnegie Quarry in the soon to be National Monument.
In 1915 the area was officially protected by president Woodrow Wilson. The original Monument was focused mostly on the Dinosaur Quarry. In 1938 it was greatly expanded to protect the area’s wild landscape, geology and over 800 additional paleontological sites. In 2019 the area was designated an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association.
This is the address to the Quarry Visitor Center which is the primary destination for many visitors to Dinosaur National Monument. Please note that if you search Dinosaur National Monument on many map programs, they will send you to either Monument Headquarters in Dinosaur, Colorado or the geographic center of the monument near Echo Park.
Jensen, UT 84035
Dinosaur National Monument is located on the Colorado and Utah border with a parts of the monument in both states. Dinosaur fossils are not visible in the Colorado portion of the monument – only on the Utah side. The Quarry Visitor Center and Exhibit Hall (where you see the dinosaur fossils) are located approximately 7 miles north of Jensen, Utah.
Dinosaur’s climate is semiarid with temperatures averaging between 0°F to 30°F in January and 50°F to 100°F in July. Extreme winter low temperatures may reach -40°F and summer highs can top 110°F. Elevations within the park vary between 4,700 and 9,000 feet. Winter snow may be heavy at higher elevations while only light to moderate snow is found at lower elevations. Summer thunderstorms may cause heavy downpours and localized flooding, but fail to dampen parched soils less than a mile away.
Free wifi is available at the Quarry Visitor Center. Depending on provider, cellular data is available around the visitor center area and from the Green River and Split Mountain campgrounds on the Utah side of the monument. Cell service is not available along the river canyons or in any remote areas of the monument.
The outdoor areas in the monument is open 24 hours per day. Facilities such as visitor centers and the Quarry Exhibit Hall have specific hours of operation.
Dinosaur National Monument Visitors Center Hours
CLOSURES & SEASONAL EXCEPTIONS
Things To Do At Dinosaur National Monument
Hiking at Dinosaur National Monument is one of the best ways to explore the park. There are plenty of trails for all levels including a number of short paved trails leaving from the visitors center as well as remote trails nearing 10 miles in distance.
Many hikers are surprised to find that hiking off trails is permitted in Dinosaur National Monument. Many of our more experienced guests even take advantage of this to backcountry camp in the park. Be sure to contact the visitors center to get a backcountry camping permit.
If you’re looking to do some backcountry hiking in Dinosaur National Monument but want a little guidance check out this guide put together by the National Parks Service for the Lower Sand Canyon Route.
Remember to follow simple safety rules like carrying a compass and being sure someone knows where you are if you go off trail.
Dinosaur National Monument Trail Maps
Camping In Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument features six unique campgrounds spread around the area of the monument. Between these campgrounds, there are over 120 sites to choose from.
As the name suggests this camp is located on the banks of the Green River. Tucked in a grove of cottonwood drees, the Green River Campground sits in the shadows of Split Mountian. The dinosaur quarry is located just five miles from this campground making it a great jumping-off point for exploring ancient history. Boaters also love this campground since it hosts the Split Mountian Boat Ramp. There are no water, sewer, or electrical hook-ups. The four sites in this campground are served by seasonal flush toilets.
There are 80 total sites in the Green River Campground
Also placed along the banks of the Green River, the Split Mountian Group Campground. This campground accommodates groups between 8 and 25 campers with tents or RVs. There are no water, sewer, or electrical hookups. The four sites in this campground are served by seasonal flush toilets.
Tucked in at the base of towering cliffs, Echo Park Campground is located at the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers. The cliffs above are marked with petroglyphs from the Freemont people. Campers aren’t the only frequent visitors, bighorn sheep and mule deer are known to roam the campground.
Located 38 miles north of the Canyon Visitors Center, Echo Park is not the easiest campground to reach. High-clearance vehicles are recommended due to the difficult roads, sharp turns, and steep grades. RVs are strongly discouraged.
Echo Park has 17 sites for tents and trucks with camper tops as well as 4 walk-in tent sites. There are vault toilets available but no showers, electric, water, or sewer hookups.
If you’re looking to get away from the crowds Rainbow Park is a great choice. Its located 28 miles from the Quarry Visitor Center in Utah on a dirt road that is impassable when wet. Rainbow Park has 4 walk-in sites for tents only. There are no hookups or water available. The only facilities in this park are vault toilets and a riverboat launch site.
Located 53 miles east of the Canyon Visitor Center on the Yampa River Deerlodge has just 7 sites for tents only. There are vault toilets and running water from mid-May through mid-July, but now showers. This cottonwood shaded site is a peaceful stop along the river, but be sure to check the level of the Yampa River. During the lat spring, it often exceeds 18,000 CFS and floods the campground. Check river levels here.
This campground is loved by river rafters thanks to its location at the upstream mouth of the Lodore Canyon on the Green River. It’s just over 100 miles from the Canyon Visitors Center. This shady campground has vault toilets and summer running water, but no showers. the 19 sites can accommodate tents or RVs but there are no hook-ups available.
For more camping options in and out of the park check out the listings available on Campendium.
Videos Of Dinosaur National Monument
Get a feel for the park with a few youtube videos.