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Dinosaurland and Eastern Utah Travel Guide

Plan Your Dinosaurland and Eastern Utah Vacation

The rugged beauty of Utah's eastern corner, wedged neatly between Wyoming above and Colorado to the east, is the reward for those willing to take the road less traveled. Neither I-80 nor I-70 enters this part of the state, so most visitors who pass through the western United States never even see it. That, of course, is part of its appeal. Small towns, rural attitudes, and a more casual and friendly

approach to life are all part of the eastern Utah experience.

Eastern Utah is most spectacular when viewed out-of-doors. It's home to great boating and fishing at Flaming Gorge, Red Fleet, Steinaker, and Starvation reservoirs. Hundreds of miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails (often available to cross-country skiers, snowmobilers, or snowshoers in winter) crisscross the region. The Green and Yampa rivers entice white-water rafters as well as less ambitious float-trippers. The pine- and aspen-covered Uinta (pronounced You-in-tah) Mountains offer campers and hikers hidden, pristine lakes and streams. Even if you don't get out of your car, exploring this region takes you through vast red-rock basins, over high mountain passes, and between geologic folds in the earth.

This area of Utah was home to Native American cultures long before the first European fur trappers and explorers arrived. Cliff walls and boulders throughout the region are dotted with thousands of examples of rock art of the Fremont people (AD 300 to 1300), so called because they inhabited the region near the Fremont River. Today the Uintah and Ouray Reservation is the second largest in the United States, and covers a significant portion of eastern Utah, though much of the reservation's original land grant was reclaimed by the U.S. government for its mineral and timber resources. The Ute tribe, whose 3,000-some members inhabit the land, hold powwows and other cultural ceremonies, which help visitors understand their way of life.

Museums throughout the region are full of pioneer relics, and there are several restored homesteads in and near Vernal. Eastern Utah is also one of the most important paleontological research areas in the world, with loads of dinosaur fossils to check out. The rich mining and railroad history of the Price-Helper area fuels the tall tales of outlaws, robberies, mine disasters, and heroic deeds you're sure to hear.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. One great gorge The most jaw-dropping spot in eastern Utah is the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. The quite cold water under the gorge's reddish, steep walls is a serene place to fish and boat, and the surrounding open space makes for good camping and hiking.
  2. Dino-mite Come to Dinosaur National Monument to see the famous dinosaur fossils or just to camp in some truly remote country. For the most exciting introduction to the monument, take a guided river rafting trip through it.
  3. Frugal fun Vernal is a favorite for its low-cost entertainment. Head to a museum, go bowling, or go back in time at its quaint drive-in movie theater, which offers back-to-back films on weekends.
  4. Bike Vernal In the last few years almost 200 mi of former cow trails around Vernal have been converted for use by mountain bikes. The sport is still getting a foothold in the area, so that means the paths are often blissfully empty—for now.
  5. Alone in the swell The San Rafael Swell is one of the least crowded spots in a region that's already known for its sparse population. If you're looking to get away from everyone—all the while hiking, biking, and boating—these miles of domed rock might be exactly what you need.

When To Go

When to Go

In eastern Utah most museums, parks, and other sights extend their hours during the summer season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. (Some museums...

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