This is the only national park in the America’s set up to protect a historic “dinosaur quarry”. In 1909 paleontologist Earl Douglass from the Carnegie Museum was asked to visit a recent discovery made by a local miner. By 1915 the “Carnegie’s Quarry” had been set up as a designated 80 acre Dinosaur National Monument featuring 1000’s of bones from the late-jurassic dinosaur period.
The dinosaur quarry is in a rock layer, whose fossils were deposited in varied environments which means scientists can reconstruct how the area will have appeared over 150 million years ago.
The quarry visitor center is just 7 miles north of Jensen, Utah and is open daily. Attached to this center is the Exhibit Hall where a free shuttle runs to every 15 minutes in peak season from the visitors center. Also, some five miles further on from the Visitor’s center are two campgrounds on the Green River plus a number of short walks.
We arrived late afternoon at the park entrance and decided to go straight to the campground to ensure we got a spot for the night. The main campground at Green River is a “Summer only” camp and has Camp Hosts on duty for the duration (in peak season to guarantee as spot you would be advised to reserve online 48 hours minimum before arriving and probably a week or more advance if planning to visit at a weekend). We quickly found a nice spot to set up and chill out for the evening in the shade of Big Henry….temps were still in the upper 90’s. However, to our dismay two families pulled in behind us and immediately put on their generators….sorry, but we detest generators and we still have a real problem understanding why National Parks and most State Parks are prepared to let these operate in what are usually such beautiful, pristine and “at one with nature” environments….even more difficult for us to understand why it is these people come to these parks and then proceed to sit inside watching tv and running their air conditioning only venturing out after dark to light a fire. New technology dictates the route to go must be solar. OK…rant over!
Fremont Indian rock art panel on the way to the visitors center.
The following morning we returned to the Visitors Center….a quick mooch around the display and the shop…there is a great 12 minute video presentation in the theatre room….and then we hopped on the shuttle for our five minute ride to the exhibit hall. At this point I should say we had no real expectations of what we were about to see. The original exhibit hall built back in 1990 had to be completely re-constructed in 2009 following major subsidence resulting in the building becoming unsafe….the resulting re-build is nothing short of fabulous. The hall features a 250 foot wall of rock featuring countless numbers of fossilized bones inset. It is viewed from two levels…start at the top to get a real overview. The information panels, interactive video screens are state of the art and really well thought out and in addition there are special areas relating to children under 10 years of age with a regular Ranger talk for the children….we were very very impressed.
As a boy I had always been quite fascinated with the whole dinosaur “period” in history. I suppose there is something alluring to a young boy of animals so large that wandered the earth freely in various shapes and forms, only to be decimated by an “event” that as yet has to be totally confirmed. The Blonde had not really related to this period in Earth’s history and had not really understood so much about “what occurred”. For both of us then here was a real eye opener in the detail of the offer and we were suitably “entertained” for a lost two hours before “information overload” set in.
Coupled with this amazing structure was the further information relating to the Fremont Indian Tribe of which very little is known but inhabited this area for a 1000 years or more before inexplicably disappearing in and around the 1500’s.