An extensive dino-tour is very easy to plan in northeastern Utah. Several big parks in this region are famous for prehistoric dinosaur tracks and vast fossil beds. The small towns of Vernal and Jenson are havens for dinosaur museums and plenty of local fossil hunting information is provided in these places. By far, the most popular paleontology destination in this neighborhood is the Dinosaur National Monument, which straddles the border of Utah and Colorado. The Utah side of this National Monument is where the highest percentage of dinosaur fossils are found and as an added bonus, the Green River flows right by the campgrounds near the fossil quarry, so plenty of aquatic entertainment is at the doorstep. As far as the dino-tour experience goes, it does not get much better than this!
Dinosaur tourism has been gaining popularity in recent years and this trend certainly provides a healthy mindset. In northeastern Utah, the fossil beds are located in some of the most picturesque places on earth, so it is a real pleasure visiting this region. There are only a few small towns and the gas stations are spaced way apart, so as can be imagined, the modern accommodations are limited. Because the summer season weather is so nice this far north, camping is the way to go when planning the trip.
Dinosaur National Monument has five campgrounds and back country camping permits are available. Only two of the developed campgrounds are located in the Utah side of the park and the rest are in Colorado. Both of the Utah campgrounds are located on the banks of the Green River just past the Quarry Visitor Center, but one is a large group site. The site that is open for general use is called the Green River Campground, which absolutely is an ideal place for setting up a paleontology expedition basecamp.
Dinosaur National Monument is not only all about paleontology. There are plenty of hiking trails that go deep into this amazing wilderness and there are several native heritage sites to experience. For some visitors the dinosaur fossils are the only reason to arrive, while for others the Green River is the main attraction. Swimming and doing float trips down this lazy section of the Green River is a pastime. The fishing is good in this river too. As can be imagined, the Green River Campground offers far more than just an educational experience!
Camping inside Dinosaur National Monument is convenient, but it is best to make campsite reservations well ahead of time during the peak summer season. During early fall, the weather is still warm and walk-in campsites are much easier to find. When I camped in this place it was early autumn and there was plenty of breathing room. There is usually some noise from folks partying after splashing in the river all day, but this can be expected in a riverside campground, so just plan on joining in on the fun. The town of Jenson is nearby, so stocking up is easy to do. Watercraft rentals and river rafting tour excursions can be found in Jenson too. Dinosaur National Monument may be all about prehistoric fossils, but camping and lazing the day away by the river is pretty darn fun here too!
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