COLORADO,  Road Trips,  UTAH

Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur Quarry

Dinosaur National Monument- Fossil Quarry

Dinosaur National Monument QuarryDinosaur Quarry

The original Dinosaur Quarry was built in the 1950s on unstable clay and even during construction problems started. Damage to the parking area appeared almost immediately. Eventually, cracks in the structure split and grew, there were gaps showing where the building was pulling away from the rock wall.

For instance, the library was shut down when support beams flexed through the walls. At one point, ceiling tiles fell from the roof and the chief paleontologist office started tilting so severely his chair would roll away from his desk.

Thirdly, the most disconcerting details came from the staff who reported the second story gallery would vibrate on occasion. In 2006 the building was closed indefinitely because of safety concerns. 8 Million dollars was raised to replace the structure and reopen the site. It’s now open once again and the dinosaurs are back on display, awe-inspiring as ever.

Dinosaur National Monument Quarry

Where to Stay

If you want to visit the Dinosaur National Monument, stay at any of Vernal, Utah’s hotels or camp grounds. If you’d like free accommodations Utah has public land which is free for campers.


If you’re interested check out 7 Tips for Free Camping to learn more.

However, you can stay in one camp spot for up to two weeks without paying a dime, which may or may not be enough to visit everything the Basin has to offer.

There are many camping spots along the river if you’d like to start a river trip at Flaming Gorge, or if you don’t have the time to make the full multi day trip down river, you can enter in Browns Park, float through the Gates Of Lodore and Echo Park. Which are two of my favorite fishing holes. My article on Echo Park is worth a read.

Dinosaur National Monument, Echo ParkDirections

From town, here are the directions to get to the quarry. The Uintah county usually has full signal in most areas, it’s nice to have a copy of the directions you won’t need internet, or cell service to refer to. The canyons can be spotty.

I’d take a Screen Shot of this so you have it handy if you lose signal.


The National Monument is a park. It’s $25 dollars per car load. This pass gives you access for 7 days to come and go as you please. Furthermore, if you’re interested you can buy a National Park Annual Pass, for $80 that will give you access to every national park and monument in the country for a year. Any National Park enthusiast should have one.

Click on the directions and it will send you to a google map if you prefer on the go directions.

Dinosaur Quarry: 11625 E 1500 S Jensen, Utah 84035
For map and compass users that may be hiking the area, here are the coordinates.
Latitude: N 40° 26′ 17.0277″
Longitude: W 109° 18′ 25.6701″

About The Park

80 acres were designation as a National Monument on October 4th 1915 it is now protecting over 200 thousand.

In April 2019, it was listed by The International Dark-Sky Association as a dark sky certified location, Milky way for days and constellations as you can name so don’t think it has nothing to offer after sunset.


Once parked, you’ll venture into the visitors center. There are several places along here that are worth checking out. After all Uintah county loves our dinosaurs so we have statues of them everywhere. The visitors center shows you the history of the region and the people who settled the area.

Dinosaur Quarry Shuttle Bus

There’s a shuttle bus that will take you through the mountain side and bring you to the Exhibit hall, you’ll catch that the visitors center. It keeps too many cars from overwhelming the tiny canyon, and reduces fumes from damaging the site.Dinosaur National Monument quarry

The Rock Wall

The quarry is such a unique experience. There’s so much here that is baffling to consider. For example, millions of years ago an ancient lake bed covered the majority of the western United States leaving most of Utah submerged.

A river that flowed into the lake carved many of the canyons in the area and that same river carried the bodies of dinosaurs downstream depositing them in the basin that became Uintah county. Leaving a treasure trove of fossils that collected at the bottom every time the river dried up. Dinosaur National Monument Quarry


On August 17th, 1909 Earl Douglas was searching for museum quality fossils when he discovered eight vertebra of an Apatosaurus in the sedimentary rock of a small hill, the subsequent discovery was beyond anyone’s imagination.

Hundreds of never seen before dinosaur bones and species, many intact all collected in one spot. As a result, the Dinosaur Quarry has provided answers to some of ancient history’s biggest questions and created even more mysteries.

Dinosaur Quarry

Special Fossils

The first fossils of the stegosaurus, one of the most recognized dinosaurs we know about today, were discovered here, along with several others that have only ever been found in this one little hill in eastern Utah.

What Happened To The Fossils

More than 350 tons (700,000 pounds) of fossils were removed from this site, Douglas and his crew spent 14 years excavating. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History had hired Douglas as a field collector, which is where most of the dinosaur skeletons discovered at this quarry are featured in the main exhibition hall of the Carnegie museum, Dinosaurs in Their Time.

Dinosaur Quarry FossilsHowever, not all the fossils were sent to Carnegie, if you’ve been to a dinosaur exhibit anywhere in the world, the odds are you’ve seen fossils from this site.

Where to Find Them Now

Such as the exhibit halls of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, which is where the skeleton of an Apatosaurus which was found by Douglas, is held on display and often mistaken for a stegosaurus, the long necked dinosaur loved by fans and featured in Jurassic Park movies.

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, was sent several specimens for it’s Hall Of Bones. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where according to the website you can “Watch Allosaurus and Stegosaurus do battle with an 80-foot-long Diplodocus towering overhead.” Fossils were also given to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Which holds one of the largest collections of prehistoric skulls.

Dinosaur National Monument Quarry

Another Attractions

If dinosaurs aren’t your thing or not enough to make you consider making the trip out to eastern Utah, home to some of the best Ancient petroglyphs and pictographs, some world-class fishing and hunting, as well as kayaking, river rafting and hiking.


We were even home to the bank robbers Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They hid out in the Basin in between robberies while they were on the run, go so far as to hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the whole town one year. Moreover, if you want to rent a metal detector and try your hand at treasure hunting, a lot of the gold stolen was never found and many believe they stashed it here.

You don’t have to take my word for it, check out TripAdvisors page and see other reviews.

As per usual, I took way more pictures than I could possibly post on here so if you’d like to see more I have several accounts that I’ve posted more images on.

P interest

Happy TravelsDinosaur National Monument Quarry
I hope to see you out there.

Hey, look, it’s me.
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  • Clark

    I think it would be really interesting to visit a place like this. I didn’t know that there is such a museum, housing real fossils of dinosaurs. I thought these bones have all crumbled to dust a long time ago.

    I have always enjoyed reading about dinosaurs in fiction, and it would be cool to see real fossils of them.

    • NJKuhr

      Is it really cool to see it and interesting fact, they encourage you to touch the fossils but not the plaster molds made of them. The molds themselves are more fragile but the fossils are perfectly safe and you can touch and inspect them all you like. 

  • Christine

    I would love to visit Utah and see the dinosaurs. I have seen some fossils and skeletons in museums, but it doesn’t compare to what this site has to offer. Interesting story how these fossils ended up here. I love reading about those things. I’m sure that I could spend all day there. How long does one usualy need to see the fossils? Is it a big site? With the pass for 7 days, is that enough to see all that the park has to offer? 

    • NJKuhr

      Oh, ya. The quarry needs a day to itself for sure but if you’re coming here I’d suggest staying a week. There’s a lot to offer. We have so much. The wall itself wouldn’t take too long, an hour or so if you read everything, but there are several hiking areas, rivers that have some of the best floating and fishing in the world, more petroglyphs and pictographs than you can see in a year. Rent paddle boards and explore the reservoir at Red Fleet to see preserved dinosaur tracks left in the rock along the cliff side. It’s very outdoorsy. I’ve got a second article about Red Canyon overlook you may want to check out, and if you like westerns Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid used to hang out around here. Bring a metal detector and search for hidden bank loot. Horses, kayaking. The Uintah basin is amazing, and there are more things to do here than you could fit in a month. 

  • Nuttanee

    There is something about Dinosaurs that I am mesmerized with. I might have started from Jurassic Park. Anyways, thanks for sharing about Dinosaur Quarry with is and all the tips. I would love to visit Utah soon after this pandemic is over with. I am also opened for camping as well. During what time of the year is best to visit?

    • NJKuhr

      It depends on your cold tolerance. All year round is beautiful for different reasons and most of the monument and outdoor activities are still open even in winter. The snow changes this place. Some of the deep country stuff will be closed due to snow but my favorite time of the year is May or September. July through August is our summer months and it can get 80-90 degrees F which isn’t horrible but this is considered high desert so it’s a more draining heat and the fish aren’t’ as active if you enjoy fishing. 

  • Mike

    Hello there! Dinosaurs have been and always will be one of my greatest fascinations! During kindergarten, I was already knowing the names of about 10 dinosaurs and I was like the “dinosaur guy” in class. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to go to a museum. I was also not aware that there were outdoor exhibits to visit. Perhaps when I am more free, I would definitely like to pay a visit to the places you suggested and I get a “Jurassic Park” vibe after reading this article. All of that combined with camping sounds like a great trip to happen one day. Thanks for this!

    • NJKuhr

      This are is such a hidden treasure, the natural history museum in town is worth a visit as well and if you enjoy hiking and fishing we have more of that than you could do in a year. Check out the Uintah county, between dinosaurs, western bank robbers, and rock formations you will get a lot out of this small eastern Utah town.

  • William

    Who doesn’t LOVE dinosaurs?!?! The museum sounds like an absolute treasure to visit let alone the other attractions in the valley. I really appreciate the fact that you provided accommodation and direction information in your post. So many times travel blogs omit that information and make planning a trip that much more difficult. I have an uncle who is both a “Jurassic Park” nut and an incessant stargazer who would love visiting. But, he uses a walker and travels to places like this in a motorhome. Could you recommend a place where he could park his motorhome and get access to the dinosaur museum while still being able to set up his telescope for a unique view of the night sky?

    • NJKuhr

      Absolutely, I am so glad you asked. Right at the park entrance is an RV park that has all the hook ups, there is also an RV park closer to town with grocery and gas stations close at hand, it also has a putput golf course, a pool, atv, and canam rentals if you’d like something that will take you all over the mountains without having to worry about getting stuck or not having access. The Quarry is very walker and wheelchair friendly and the staff would be thrilled to answer any question you have. He can touch the fossils too, if he’d like. The paleontology students there are very interactive with guests and he can dig for fossils himself at the natural history museum in town. The top of the monument is easy to access, I recommend a short drive up to the Echo park overlook for the best night sky views, and it’s drivable. There’s spots with firepits big enough for RV’s up there but without hookups. But he’ll be very comfortable driving an RV there. The area is covered in public land where he can park his RV for free so he only has to pay for the RV park on nights he wants to hook up to electricity or empty his brown water. I’m totally blowing up your feed and should probably turn this into another article. Thanks for the idea. 

  • Jude

    Eastern Utah is definitely home to some of the best Ancient petroglyphs and pictographs. I remember reading this online. Its a great tourist destination especially for people that will love some world-class fishing and hunting, as well as kayaking, river rafting and hiking. I definitely will visit Eastern Utah and will not mind camping there for two weeks. I hope I’ll be able to complete my tour of the facility.

    • NJKuhr

      I hope you do. We’re very proud of our dinosaurs but if you’re interested in more, everyone place in town has a brochure table, we have a list of 14 day trips you can do all within 1-2 hour drive from main street. There’s a lot to do without the crowds you get from some of the big 5 national parks southern utah has. 

  • yvonnebray

    Hi, I absolutely love your site. I want to go to Utah and see the Dinosaur museum. Brilliant piece of work. 

    You have covered your topic well that it makes one want to see the fossils. I have to admit I have no experience in this area but your post has encouraged me to want to see them here in Australia and when I am in America I would love to visit Utah and see them. 

    During school holidays children and parents can participate in the dig.

    I also loved how you autographed your images. I thought this was a wonderful idea but when I got down to the bottom of your page to fill in the comments part, I noticed or couldn’t find where to fill in a response. 

    Overall page is fantastic, well done.

    • NJKuhr

      I hadn’t realized there wasn’t a comments section thank you for telling me. I hope you do get to the United States though I’m not sure how you would pick just one destination but if it helps Utah is the third most photographed state after Alaska and Hawaii. It’s not the most well known but we kind of like that. I’ll figure out how to get comments on my posts through the site itself, thanks for pointing that out. I completely missed it. 

  • LineCowley

    It is reassuring that a new dinosaur monument was built after the first one was declared unsafe. The quarry certainly sounds unique and very interesting that the fossils collected at the bottom of the river that dried up. Amazing that fossils from this site took fourteen years to excavate and are also exhibited elsewhere. 

    Anyone interested in dinosaurs would enjoy visiting the dinosaur monument

    • NJKuhr

      I think so too. This place is so unique and has such an interesting history. It’s very interactive too for kids and enthusiasts.

  • Angel

    According to those pictures, I feel like I am watching the movie Jurassic Park all over again. However, I do wonder how they can tell the age of the fossil though after many years of it being preserved through the rocks down under the earth’s surface below and how it is dug out by palentologists. 

    • NJKuhr

      That’s a great question, a lot of the information comes from carbon dating. They carbon dated the fossils themselves as well as the different levels of sedimentary rock they were found in but it’s a great idea for another article. 

  • Cogito

    Very interesting article. After month of staying home due to covid even readying about places you can visit is refreshing. It seems as a perfect destination to go with family. Not only contact with nature but also dinosaurs fossils. Who didn’t watch Jurassic park and is not fascinated with dinosaurs? This is one of things which fascinate both young and elders. Looking forward to visit park in more normal times.

    • NJKuhr

      I hope you do, this area is amazing and great for kids. We have a lot of activities that are easy to access but unique and special. It’s well worth a visit. 


    The Quarry Exhibit Hall permits guests to see the mass of roughly 1,500 dinosaur bones in a restored, agreeable space. Here, you can look at the remaining parts of various types of dinosaurs including Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodocus, and Stegosaurus alongside a few others. Shows, including a 80-foot long painting, uncover the account of these creatures and numerous others that lived in the Morrison climate during the late Jurassic. There are even a few spots where you can contact genuine 149 million year old dinosaur fossils!

    • NJKuhr

      All true, they do encourage you to touch the fossils. It’s crazy the molds of the fossils are more fragile then the fossils themselves. 

  • LearnToEarn Admin

    This is certainly a very interesting place to visit. What intrigued me is the fact that you can camp for free and enjoy the natural surroundings. Hiking is a great way to see the outdoors because you get to see it up close and you can touch and feel the rocks and different grasses. My favourite is the fact that you can see so much of the galaxy in the night sky after sunset. How awesome is that? A photographer’s delight!

    • NJKuhr

      it really is a photographers heaven. We’re very proud of out public land and are very protective of it but still want to share it with others to enjoy as well. 

  • Samir El Fath

    The site looks easy on the eye, simple to navigate.
    the topic is interesting to me, and the visuals are really good.
    the only thing that I would say might need modification, is the list of tags at the bottom of the page, in my opinion, they don’t need to be visible to the visitor, especially that when the visitor clicks on any of them they go to the same page.

    overall, really good.

    • NJKuhr

      I don’t know how to hide the tags at the bottom, it’s something that’s bothered me for a while but I’m not sure how to remove them. I was just thinking about that as I was editing the article.

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