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Vernal is the hub of "Dinosaurland," mixing the region's ancient heritage with a certain kitschy charm—think giant dino statues, a dino-themed bowling alley, and an old-time drive-in movie theater. Dinosaurs aren't the only things they're proud of in Vernal, however. The town claims the ancient Fremont Indians, a rowdy ranching past, and more than a passing acquaintance with outlaws like
Butch Cassidy, who frequented the area whenever he felt it was safe to be seen around town. Legend has it that the saloonkeepers of Vernal gave Butch's gang the name "Wild Bunch," muttering "There goes that wild bunch" whenever the outlaws rolled in. Now the largest town (population 8,000) in the northeast corner of the state, the cattle-ranching community of Vernal is one of the few Utah towns founded by non-Mormons. However, it was the town's remote location—at the eastern edge of Utah, far from government authorities—not a lack of religion, that led to its early reputation as a wild and lawless place. These days it's more of a tame, friendly spot to cool your heels between trips to outlying areas as well as biking and river adventures.
Dinomania rules at this 330-square-mi park that straddles the Utah-Colorado border. While the main draws are obviously the ancient dinosaur...