Dinosaur, CO is a small town located in Moffat County that was initially known as Baxter Springs. The town was eventually renamed again to Dinosaur due to the town’s main attraction, Dinosaur National Monument. Other attractions in and around town include the Harpers Corner Trail and the Harpers Corner Scenic Drive, the Jones Hole Trail, the Gates of Lodore Trail, and Yampa Bench Road.
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1.Dinosaur National Monument
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Situated on the southeast flank of the Uinta Mountains at the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers lies the Dinosaur National Monument, a vast national monument after which the town was named. Set on the on the border between Colorado and Utah, the 210,844-acre monument is one of the world’s best windows into the late Jurassic period and features a wealth of prehistoric plant and animal fossils embedded in sloping rock formation. The monument’s rugged landscapes of mountains and canyons offer a variety of outdoor recreational activities from hiking, mountain biking, mountain climbing and kayaking to white-water rafting, horseback riding, fishing, and backcountry camping. Other amenities and activities in the monument include scenic drives, picnicking, and Junior Ranger and Junior Paleontology programs.
11625 E 1500 S, Jensen, UT 84035, Phone: 970-374-3000
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2.Harpers Corner Trail
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The Harper’s Corner Trail is a one-mile, self-guided nature trail that leads to the isolated observation point in the Dinosaur National Monument known as Harper’s Corner which is set 2,500 feet above the canyons of the Green and Yampa Rivers and boasts some of the most spectacular views in the region. The trail begins just east of the town of Dinosaur at the Colorado entrance to the national monument, and there are several overlooks, including the Iron Springs Bench Overlook and the Canyon Overlook, and a few picnic areas along the way. The trail follows the ridge and offers magnificent views of Echo Park and the confluence of the Yampa and Green to the east and Whirlpool Canyon to the west until it ends at Harper’s Corner with 270-degree panoramic views.
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3.Harpers Corner Scenic Drive
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The Harpers Corner Scenic Drive is a 31-mile, one-way automobile tour route in the Dinosaur National Monument that begins at the Canyon Visitor Center and ends at Harpers Corner. The road passes the colorful Plug Hat Butte, which features a picnic area and a wheelchair-accessible trail and continues upwards to an elevation of 2,500 feet above the Green and Yampa rivers, boasting breathtaking views. Other notable attractions en-route include Steamboat Rock, the Echo Park overlook, and several striking viewpoints and overlooks with views into the Whirlpool, Lodore, and Yampa canyons.
Maybell, CO 81640, Phone: 970-374-3000
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4.Yampa Bench Road
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The Yampa Bench Road is an 18-mile scenic drive that runs along a large flat area above the Yampa River connects the Echo Park Road with the monument's southeast boundary. The winding road has several narrow and short steep sections and features several viewpoints, which look down on the shimmering snake of the Yampa River deep in the canyon below. The scenic drive also features a range of trails and historic sites that offer insight into the area's rich history and dramatic scenery, such as several historical homesteads and ranches.
National Monument, CO, UT
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5.Jones Hole Trail
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The Jones Hole Trail is a seven-mile out-and-back trail in the Dinosaur National Monument that follows the entire course of Jones Creek, whose source is at the fish hatchery and continues for 3.5 miles to the Green River. Located near Vernal, Utah, the Jones Hole Trail boasts a lovely waterfall and offers several amenities and activity options along the way, including exploring the fish hatchery, viewing a set of petroglyphs just past the footbridge, and a primitive camping area and day use area for river rafters. Hikers and visitors to the trail may see bighorn sheep that frequent the area.
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6.Gates of Lodore Trail
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The Gates of Lodore Nature Trail is a 0.9-mile out-and-back trail that is used primarily for hiking, trail running, and camping year-round. Located at the Gates of Lodore Campground in the northernmost section of the Dinosaur National Monument, the nature trail is set around the Canyon of Lodore, a deep chasm surrounded by layered, reddish cliffs of quartzite and sandstone with a rapid-filled stretch of the Green River at the bottom which is only accessible by boating or rafting. Named by explorer John Wesley Powell, who was inspired by Robert Southey’s poem 'Cataract of Lodore,' the evocatively-titled Gates of Lodore is a spectacular sight to behold.
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© BedRock Depot
BedRock Depot is a family-owned and operated store that sells a wide variety of gifts for all occasions, with an emphasis on dinosaur-themed items. The shop sells a variety of goods from clothing, toys, jewelry, and souvenirs to coffee mugs, fossils and more, along with a delicious selection of homemade sandwiches, gourmet ice cream, freshly brewed coffee, and a special children’s menu. BedRock Depot offers complimentary wireless throughout the store and the café, which is open seven days a week during the season.
214 W Brontosaurus Blvd, Dinosaur, CO 81610, Phone: 970-374-2336
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8.Plug Hat Trail
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The Plug Hat Trail is a paved and wheelchair accessible 0.3-mile loop trail within the Colorado Section of the Dinosaur National Monument that features beautiful wild flowers and is suitable for all levels of hiker. Named after the nearby Plug Hat Rock, which is so called for looking like a top hat or bowler hat, the Plug Hat trail is located about five miles north of the Canyon Visitor Center, and right across the road from the Plug Hat Picnic area. The path winds its way through beautiful forests of pinon and juniper woodland and provides lovely views of Plug Hat Rock along the south side of the ridge. Plug Hat Trail is an interpretive nature trail that offers interesting snippets of information along the way and is an excellent hike for school-age children.
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9.Ruple Point Trail
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The Ruple Point Trail is a moderately rated, 7.7-mile out-and-back trail in the Colorado Section of the Dinosaur National Monument that features beautiful wild flowers and lovely views. Located near Vernal in Utah, the well-marked trail winds through Split Mountain leading to a rocky point on Ruple Ridge with spectacular views over the Green River. The Ruple Point Trail lies at an elevation of 7,000 feet and has minimal shade so can get very hot in the summer months. There is a large elk population in this area, as well as several deer, coyotes, sage hens, owls, and bear, which are best seen in the cooler mornings.
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10.Tour of the Tilted Rocks
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Tour of the Tilted Rocks is a 10-mile scenic drive along Cub Creek Road in Jensen, Utah that features several historical and exciting attractions. Beginning at the Quarry Visitor Center north of Jensen, the route passes centuries-old petroglyph and pictograph panels, a 1913 cabin once owned by Josie Bassett, and incredible views of geologic layers in the surrounding rock formations. A short side road off the main route travels to the Split Mountain Boat Launch where the Green River rushes out of the Split Mountain Canyon and journey’s end for river rafters who have spent a few days paddling through the Dinosaur National Monument. There are no services such as fuel and food available along this route, the nearest of which are in Jensen.
Cub Creek Road, Jensen, UT
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10 Best Things to Do in Dinosaur, Colorado
- Dinosaur National Monument, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- Harpers Corner Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Rosemary - Fotolia.com
- Harpers Corner Scenic Drive, Photo: Courtesy of Mykola Mazuryk - Fotolia.com
- Yampa Bench Road, Photo: Courtesy of Joshua Resnick - Fotolia.com
- Jones Hole Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- Gates of Lodore Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- BedRock Depot, Photo: BedRock Depot
- Plug Hat Trail, Photo: Courtesy of schankz - Fotolia.com
- Ruple Point Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Nancy - Fotolia.com
- Tour of the Tilted Rocks, Photo: Courtesy of legedo - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of iofoto - Fotolia.com