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Dinosaurland and Eastern Utah Travel Guide

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Plan Your Dinosaurland and Eastern Utah Vacation

The rugged beauty of Utah's northeastern corner, wedged neatly between Wyoming to the north 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.

Northeastern Utah is most spectacular when viewed out-of-doors and out of your vehicle. It's home to superb boating and fishing at Flaming Gorge, Red Fleet, and the Steinaker 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.

Dinosaurs once dominated this region, and in many ways, they still do. Paleontology labs and fossil displays abound, as do corny dino statues and impressive life-size skeleton casts. Excavation sites such as Dinosaur National Monument make northeastern Utah one of the most important paleontological research areas in the world.

Ancient Native American cultures also left their marks throughout the region. Cliff walls and boulders are dotted with thousands of examples of rock art of the Fremont people ([ad] 600 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 fascinating pioneer relics, and there are a number of restored homesteads in and around Vernal. The rich mining and railroad history of the Price–Helper area fuels the tall tales you're certain to hear of outlaws, robberies, mine disasters, and heroic deeds.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. One great gorge The most jaw-dropping spot in northeastern Utah is the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. The deep-blue water under the gorge’s reddish, steep walls is a serene place for fishing and boating, 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 explore some truly remote country. For the most exciting introduction to the monument, take a guided river-rafting trip through it.
  3. Ancient art The cliffs near Vernal and Price are striking not only for their interesting rock formations, but also for voluminous displays of ancient petroglyphs and pictographs, drawn once upon a time by members of the Fremont tribe.
  4. Bike Vernal In the last decade almost 200 miles 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 for solitude while hiking, biking, and boating, these miles of domed rock might be exactly what you need.

Travel Tips

Dinosaurland and Eastern Utah Travel Tips

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