Dinosaur National Monument
Guide

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Introduction

Dinosaur National Monument stretches from Colorado to Utah and is almost 211,000 acres in size. Both Colorado and Utah have unique features for visitors to explore. In Utah, the dinosaur quarry has over 1500 fossils embedded into the cliff walls. In Colorado, visitors can take in stunning views of the canyons carved by the Green and Yampa rivers. Dinosaur fossils can only be viewed on the west end of the monument in Utah.

Aside from seeing the hundreds of dinosaur fossils, there are many other areas of the monument to explore. Trek down one of the hiking trails and for those looking to get off the beaten path, off-trail hiking is permitted at the monument. River rafting trips are enjoyed by adventure-seekers looking to experience class III and IV rapids. At night, the dark sky is free of light pollution providing a stunning view of the star-filled sky.

There are six campgrounds at Dinosaur National Monument and three of these can accommodate RVs and travel trailers. Camping is open year-round at some campgrounds, but roads may be hazardous or impassable during the wintertime. There are no hookups at any of the campsites, but each site has a picnic table and campfire ring to relax at during the quiet mornings and star-filled nights.

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Transportation in Dinosaur National Monument

Driving

Dinosaur National Monument is located in both Colorado and Utah, with each side having a visitor center. If using a GPS device, visitors will be given directions to the the Colorado end of the monument in Dinosaur. If wanting to go to the east end in Utah where the fossils are, the coordinates that should be used are N 40° 26' 17.0277 and W 109° 18' 25.6701.

A shuttle bus takes visitors from Quarry Visitor Center in Utah to the dinosaur quarry during the summertime. During the offseason, park rangers will lead visitors to the quarry in a caravan.

Those driving to the national monument should encounter few hazards, even those in a large RV. There are some roads that aren’t accessible for RVs or towed trailers. Other roads may be impassable during the winter months due to snow and wet conditions.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Dinosaur National Monument

Campsites in Dinosaur National Monument

Reservations camping

Green River Campground

Green River Campground is open from April to October and has 80 reservable campsites. There is a campfire ring and picnic table at each campsite. Firewood can be purchased at the park. This campground has flush toilets, but no showers.

Split Mountain Campground

Split Mountain has four group sites that can accommodate both RVs and tents. This campground is open year-round. Campsites are reservable from April to October and are first-come, first-served for the remainder of the year.

Each campsite has a campfire ring. Vault toilets are open year-round and from April to October, the flush toilets are open. Split Mountain is near a boat ramp and hiking trails.

First-come first-served

Gates of Lodore

Open year-round, Gates of Lodore has 19 campsites that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. These campsites can accommodate both tents and RVs.

This campground has picnic tables, campfire rings, and bear-proof storage lockers. Vault toilets are located at this campground. A boat ramp provides quick access to the river.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Dinosaur National Monument

Spring

Picnic

On warm sunny days, enjoy a picnic with family or friends. A picnic is a perfect way to rest and refuel between other activities such as hiking or rafting. There are picnic tables scattered throughout many areas of the park. Restrooms and trash bins are located nearby each picnic area. Those looking to picnic can also use unoccupied and unreserved campsites.

Summer

Stargazing

Dinosaur National Monument is an optimal location for stargazing. It is one of the darkest areas in the United States, being tucked away from the light pollution of cities and towns. Stars can be viewed through a telescope or the naked eye. Pick out the different constellations and observe how bright the stars of the Milky Way shine. The monument does offer a night sky program that runs on specific dates throughout the summertime.

River Rafting

River rafting is a popular activity at Dinosaur National Monument. The Green and Yampa Rivers run through the monument and their class III and IV rapids attract adventure-seekers. Commercial guided trips are offered. These guided trips range from a one-day adventure through Split Rock Canyon or overnight, multi-day trips. Experienced rafters with the proper equipment can take private trips but will need to pick up the required permit to do so.

Fall

Dinosaur Quarry

Dinosaurs once roamed through the area and there are over 1500 fossils left behind in the cliffs. Visitors to the monument can head into the dinosaur quarry to see these fossils in the cliff walls. The quarry is located at the west end of the monument in Utah. There are no fossils on the Colorado side. To access the quarry, head to the Quarry Visitor Center. During the summer months, shuttles will take visitors from the visitor center to the quarry. For the remainder of the year, visitors should follow park rangers from the visitor center to the quarry in a caravan.

Hiking

There are many miles of hiking trails to be explored by visitors at Dinosaur National Monument. Trails are located in both the Colorado and Utah ends. The most popular trails begin near the paved roads and visitor centers. For those looking to escape the crowds, the monument has remote hikes tucked away or instead, venture off-trail. Off-trail hiking is permitted at the monument.

Winter

Winter Recreation

During the winter months, while most of the monument is open, some sections may close due to being impassable. Even on cold and snowy winter days, the park has much to see and do. Once the ground is covered in a blanket of snow, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing is allowed in designated areas. Zip around on your snowmobile or bring your snowshoes to head up one of the many trails.

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