Finding a lakeside destination up north in the mountains of the west is the best bet for finding cool refreshing comfort during the peak of summer. In northern Utah there are many retention dam reservoirs that control heavy snow melt season floods. The flood retention reservoirs are man made, so they are designed as recreation areas that offer boating, camping, picnicking and fishing. The Steinaker Lake State Park is a good example of what the Utah reservoir recreation area scene is all about and this certainly is a good spot to find relief from the extreme heat of summer!
Steinaker Lake State Park is located near Vernal, Utah on U.S. Highway 191. Vernal is the gateway to the Dinosaur National Monument and paleontology is the running theme of this interesting small town. In fact, this entire region is all about dinosaur fossils. Everything from dinosaur bones poking out of mesa bluffs to dinosaur footprints can be seen in the Vernal region, so this destination definitely appeals to the paleontologist in us all!
There are three interesting reservoir lakes to be found along Highway 191 when heading north from Vernal. Each offers a unique terrain and panoramic views. The Steinaker Lake State Park is closest to Vernal and the neighboring Red Fleet Stake Park Reservoir is just a few miles further up the road. Near the border of Wyoming on Highway 191 is where Flaming Gorge can be found. Flaming Gorge is a man made reservoir lake that is located in a very picturesque section of the Green River.
Steinaker Lake State Park offers boating, camping and cabin rentals. The fishing is exceptionally good here and Steinaker Lake even has a sandy beach with facilities. The landscape definitely is mountainous and there are mountain biking trails along the rolling slopes that go to the towering rock outcrops. The neighboring Red Fleet State Park offers the same venue as Steinaker Lake, but on a larger scale. There also is one more interesting thing that these wilderness areas share, which is both of these lake parks are renowned for ancient fossils. The fossil beds do become more abundant toward Red Fleet, so hiking the trails that go in that direction are the best choice for collecting. Usually the rules state that only fossilized shells or plants can be legally collected and any kind of animal fossil has to be left in its natural state. As always, it is best to check the local regulations before going fossil hunting.
The town of Vernal is the best choice for starting a dinosaur fossil hunting adventure when visiting Steinaker State Park or Red Fleet State Park. The Utah Natural History Museum is located in Vernal and this place offers a wealth of information about fossils in this region. This museum houses life size dinosaur replicas, local fossils and plenty of educational material. Information about fossil preservation and collecting laws can be found too. Only taking memories or photos home is the general rule of the fossil hunting game, but there are exceptions for common collectible items, like crinoids, small ammonites, ferns, etcetera.
Because of the rich fossil beds in this region of Utah, Steinaker Lake State Park is not your average summertime reservoir lake destination! There is plenty of cool water to splash in at this cool mountain lake and white water rafting thrills can be found nearby along the Green River. Steinaker Lake is nice mid summer camping and fishing destination that most definitely is a paleontologist’s dream come true!
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