Flickr album link: Harding Hole Overlook
Dinosaur National Monument covers a vast high desert wilderness on the Colorado-Utah Border. The Utah side is where the developed campgrounds and dinosaur fossil quarry are located, so this is where the majority of mainstream tourists tend to go. The Gates Of Lodore is by far the most popular spots on the Colorado side of the line, since this is where the Green River rafting adventures begin. Echo Park, Harpers Corner and Deer Lodge Park are destinations that are fairly easy to access in the eastern side of the park, but the remoteness is once again a limiting factor. The rest of the Colorado section of Dinosaur National Monument is a vast untamed wilderness that beckons to be explored, but the terrain is one of the most challenging on earth, so it only appeals to a limited few. For those who dream of totally escaping from the modern world, this all sounds like a dream come true and touring Yampa Bench Road will serve as a good primer course.
Previous articles feature landmarks to discover during the journey to Echo Park and the first section of Yampa Bench Road to the Castle Park Overlook. The Echo Park Campground is located next to the Green River and this is a great spot for an overnighter before taking on the complete Yampa Bench Road tour. Yampa Bench Road is a 42 mile rough dirt trail touring route that ends near the town of Dinosaur, Colorado. This road is rated for only high ground clearance 4x4 vehicles and there are some unique campsites to be found along the way, so one can easily plan an extended stay.
The captivating views of the amazing Dinosaur National Monument landscape are practically endless along Yampa Bench Road. The further one goes, the better the scenery seems to get, so be sure to set aside plenty of extra time to take the sights in. This is a very desolate expanse, so do not be surprised to find yourself being the only party touring this lengthy trail. The Yampa River snakes through the white sandstone landscape, which is worlds apart from the familiar sights back home. Thousands of canyons, towering vertical bluffs and lush green pockets along river look as if nobody has ever set foot in this place ever before. The mesmerizing views stretch well beyond the horizon, so be prepared to be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of this amazing landscape.
The Castle Park Overlook is the first major stop along Yampa Bench Road and the Harding Hole Overlook is just a few miles further east near the halfway point. When gazing at the Harding Hole bend in the river, the mind will naturally attempt to figure out how this geological feature was created, but the longer one looks, the more complicated the thinking process will become. Obviously the Yampa River played a major part in creating this big gooseneck section, but how did this part of the landscape turn into what looks like a gigantic hole. The surrounding white sandstone canyons and towering buttes add to the confusion, but one thing is for sure. Nowhere else on earth will a visitor see anything that remotely compares to the captivating beauty of the Harding Hole landmark. For this reason, be sure to pack a camera or an artist pallet for the long dusty trail!
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