Dino Land – Vernal, Utah, Sept. 19-22

Set out for Vernal to see the new dinosaur museum and to see the dinosaur dig sight in Dinosaur National Monument.  I had visited the dig sight 50 years ago and wondered what had changed.

  1. The dino bones are 50 years older.
  2. Some bones have been removed from the site and have been sent to museums.
  3. The remaining bones will stay at the site and no additional digging will be done.  (It was exciting to see people in the process of removing the bones 50 years ago)
  4. A new larger glass and metal building has been installed over the dig site.
  5. Electronic interactive displays have been installed and are quite informative.
  6. Better restrooms
  7. Replica and dino skeletons have been installed to show the different kind of dinos that have been found at the dig site.
  8. Large painted murals on the back wall depicts how live dinos looked and interacted with the environment and each other.  Some were eating plants. Some were eating the plant eaters.

The dino museum in Vernal (Utah Field House of Natural History) was modern, clean, and loaded with information about all aspects pertaining to dinos.  Outside of the museum they have full size models of what living dinos looked like in natural settings.  One item was not a dino but a full sized wooly mammoth, really big and fierce looking.  Primitive hunters had to deal with monsters like this as well as saber tooth cats, giant bears, over-sized wolves, and other nasty beasts.

Geology – Split Mountain – The Green River runs through Dinosaur National Monument through split mountain canyon.  The ranger at the visitor center said that the Green River should have gone around the mountain but instead cut a channel through the center of what is now called Split Mountain.  The split was actually caused by an uplift.  You can see the layered rocks from Jensen to Dinosaur on SR 40.  The rock layers are pushed up in a rainbow shape.  Rocks don’t bend very well so they must crack.  Like 2 points on the surface of a balloon, they get farther apart as the balloon inflates.  The strata that the dino bones are imbedded in is the Morrison Formation (hardened mud).  This layer is tilted up at about 60 degrees.  The Green River just flowed through one or more cracks and widened them somewhat.

The Grand Canyon flows through a similar uplift.  The north rim is about 1000 feet higher than the south rim.  If the land was almost flat in the remote past the river would look like it does at Moab, just a canyon of a few hundred feet deep, or at Yuma; just a few feet below its rim.

The trip to and from Vernal from Cedar City:  Cedar on I-15 to I-70 to SR 10 to Price, SR 6 to Helper, 191 to Duchesne (over Indian Canyon & Ashley Nat’l Forest, 9300 ft.), then east on SR 40 to Roosevelt and Vernal.  The route is rich in scenery but takes more time.  We enjoyed sights like Helper (train museum), old Main Street, Castle Gate, Indian Pass, etc.  A good trip.

Sept. 22:  A large cold front engulfed most of Utah starting in Vernal about 12:00 AM.  We needed to be in Cedar by that night.  Worried about snow on Indian Canyon pass we asked a helpful hotel cook for advice.  She said to take 40 and 189 through Heber City and Provo; the pass is lower.  Despite heavy rain most of the way we made it to Cedar by nightfall.2016-09-21-12-58-452016-09-21-12-59-37

wall of bones

wall of bones

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main hwy. in Vernal with potted flowers

main hwy. in Vernal with potted flowers

front of Utah state dino & natural history museum

front of Utah state dino & natural history museum

Utah raptor, Utah 'field House of Natural History

Utah raptor, Utah ‘field House of Natural History

wooly mammoth

wooly mammoth

gay dinosaur

gay dinosaur

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dino garden

dino garden

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Dinosaur N.M ; road to Josie's cabin

Dinosaur N.M ; road to Josie’s cabin

Green River rafting disembarking site

Green River rafting disembarking site

 

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