Sunday, December 27, 2015

Day 23: Dinosaur National Monument

The day changed because of weather.  It looked like it might storm early on so we hustled the 35 miles out to the Canyon section (the east side) of Dinosaur that was actually back in Colorado.  After talking to the rangers in the Visitor’s Center we drove the 30 miles north to the actual park and started the hike at the end of the road; the Harper’s Corner hike.  The hike would take us out along a ridge about a mile and a half out to a point overlooking the Echo Park and the Green River.  The weather was not looking great but the drive was long and we wanted to get walking.  We grabbed a bottle of water and headed out.

We broke our own rules.  About a mile into the hike we heard our first thunder and the rain started.  Shit.  It sounded far off so we half jogged out to the point.  This is not what you are supposed to do, especially on an exposed ridge or a canyon point.  When we hit the overlook we were in a steady rain with a decent wind, and we could see the storm cell coming up the canyon. 

Not good.  And not smart to be here.

For the record, we have to come back here.  The views were great regardless of the rain and wind.  The Canyon section of Dinosaur is already on our list for a future trip and guess what; the views of Dinosaur to the south are as good as any that we have seen on our trip.  It’s out there but it’s so worth it.

Except that now the thunder was sounding sharp. 

We jogged back to the car and made it without incident, although we were not happy with ourselves because the trip back was fairly stressful.  We worked our way back down the Harper Canyon Road but couldn’t really stop because the wind and rain didn’t really let us out of the car.  By the time we reached Highway 40, the rain (of course) had stopped.  Instead of going back we decided to hit the western section of Dinosaur National Park.  This was the location of the famous dinosaur quarry. 

We headed back into Utah to the Quarry section of Dinosaur and first hit a couple of small hikes.  We walked two box canyons and started a canyon hike until we heard the thunder.  We went back to the Visitor’s Center and took a small tram to the dinosaur quarry.  You can either take the tram up or walk up.  We decided to take the tram up and walk down.  It was only about a mile and half.  The quarry is very interesting; a half excavated rock quarry of dinosaur bones that has been encased in a large building.  It looks unreal, meaning it looks really, really cool….if you are a child.  For adults?  Meh.  It’s neat for a little while but the fossils are petrified and only one really looks like the structure of a small dinosaur.  The rest are independent bones except for a couple of skeletons in a small glass case.  It was nice but we probably won’t be returning to this side of the park.  We walked done the hill from the quarry, watching the clouds move in and the seemingly ever present sound of thunder in the distance.  We stopped in a couple of locations to see fossils in the rock but eventually moved expediently back to the car, and headed back to Vernal.   

This was a quick trip to Dinosaur and we didn’t realize that it could be so big.  There is a strong chance we will be returning to hit the east Canyon section for a visit to Echo Park in the near future.  It’s just too awesome to pass up.

Trails Hiked:  Harper’s Corner Trail, Plug Hat Trail, Box Canyon, Hog Canyon, Fossil Discovery Trail

Miles Hiked:  5

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