Here thar be dinosaurs

Snowville, UT —  Not having done any research I would have expected to find dinosaurs in, well, the town of Dinosaur, CO which I passed through after spending the night near Rangely.  Had I turned East on I-40 I might have found some at the Dinosaur National Monument Canyon area Visitor Center.  I instead  went west towards Jensen UT and Salt Lake City.   I only went dinosaur hunting after discovering that the Dinosaur National Monument Visitor Center  was only a few miles off the main highway.  Dinosaurs weren’t on my itinerary — it’s that kind of trip.

NatMonumentSignHad I done any research I wouldn’t have been disappointed by the visitor center because I would have known that the quarry was where they keep the dinosaurs.   All they really have at the visitor center is a 12 minute movie and a gift shop.

Leaving the visitor center in search of dino’s I went on a walk along the “Fossil Discovery Trail”.  Here are a few of the things I discovered on the discovery trail.

Interesting mix of new and old petroglyphs

This next discovery took a bit to find.  I had to walk up a narrow rock ledge until I could go no further.  Knowing that there had to be something there I looked for several minutes trying to find the “white arrow”  which you can see at the lower, left edge of my discovered backbone in the picture above.   The white arrows are, apparently, what palaeontologist look for when dino hunting.

The discovery below was actually right in front of me, but was hard to see in the rock.  It’s a bit easier to see in this picture because I’ve centered my find, and adjusted the contrast a bit to make it easier to spot.  The tell-tale white arrow has almost completely faded over the last 150 million years.  It’s above the far left edge of the fossil pointing down.

Can you spot the dinosaur fossil?
Can you spot the dinosaur fossil?

While on my discovery walk I also spotted a building up on top of a ridge. It looked like another visitor center.  I hiked up there hoping to see at least a bit more than what I saw in the first visitor center.  Having not done any research I honestly wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see.

The building on top of the ridge wasn’t another visitor center containing the usual fossil displays, it was a building which covered the entire quarry — a rock wall containing thousands of fossils.  Way cool!

Am I alone in thinking that you go down into quarries, not up into buildings?

quarry1When the Rockies were formed, it pushed this bit of ground up to the 60 degree angle you see here.  Before then the dinosaurs collected and died here in large quantities at what used to be a river.


From the two pictures above you can get a sense of the size of the building.  It’s not small. Click on the picture below for a closer look at one section.  The density of fossilized bones is amazing.

A closer look at one section
A closer look at one section

This sign helps explain the quarry and building

exhibitSignBeing an obedient guy,  I did as I was instructed…

boneTouchI did eventually find a real dinosaur.

Moving on, I made a family-related stop in Salt Lake City before heading north in search of a bit of family history.  Some of my relatives were well known in the early days of Utah’s state history.

I found it!

IMG_2591(I know what you’re thinking.  It should read Damn Cutler.)

Here’s the dam, what you can see of it.  It’s not large, and access was blocked.  I fully expected black helicopters to appear after I got my camera out and started taking pictures of a dam and powerhouse.  On the other side of the dam is Cutler Reservoir.  Here’s a link to better pictures, and a bit of info about the dam.


Miles traveled today: 393
Total Miles Traveled: 5067
Average Miles per day: 241

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