Earlier in the year we were looking for a weekend spot that we could go that we hadn’t been to previously. There are a lot of great Federal and State campgrounds throughout the state so there was no shortage of options. We ended up picking the Green River Campground in Dinosaur National Monument.
The campground is located right along the Green River and is tucked away below the main road. Several Cottonwood trees are located throughout the campground offering the chance of shade at different times of day. While we were here the temperatures were fairly mild, but much farther into the summer and this place would be on fire.
After getting camp setup and exploring a bit we had some dinner and headed out on the River Trail that leaves from the north end of the campground and travels north to the Split Mountain campground. It was a great hike to do in the late afternoon/evening as the majority of the trail is shaded by the mountain that you are hiking along. The trail offers some great views of the Green River and the awesome Split Mountain area. At the half way (turn-around) point you get to the abandoned section of the Split Rock campground. Round trip the hike was about 3.2 mile and well worth the time.
On Saturday we headed over to the Visitor Center for a Ranger lead hike on the Fossil Discovery trail (they do them daily at 10am). Ranger Jim lead us down the trail from the Quarry back to the Visitor Center over the course about about 90 minutes. Ranger Jim did a great job of explaining how things were millions of years ago and then taking you through the various layers of time showing and explaining the changes. The content and visuals were defiantly geared to an older audience as it is really hard to grasp just how long ago millions and billions of years is, however Ranger Jim did a good job at calling out the kid by name and asking them questions along the way. By far the highlight was seeing some of the exposed fossils, most notably a vertebra (pictured below). This trail can be hiked without a ranger but I would highly recommend doing it with a Ranger as they can point out many items that you will likely miss if you go it alone.
After a morning of hiking and time travel we were quite hungry and headed into Vernal to find a place for lunch. We decided on the Plaza Mexicana restaurant and were very happy with the choice. It was a bit higher price then we typically like to spend for lunch but the food was VERY good (I would almost drive back just for the chicken). After finishing up lunch it was back to the Visitor Center and then up to the Quarry to explore the bone wall. While there we finished up our Jr Ranger and Jr Paleontologist books and headed back to the visitor center to be sworn in and collect our (yes adults can be Jr Rangers too) badges.
We finished up the day by hitting a few stops on the auto tour and checking out some of the local petroglyphs which frequently include a lizard figure that is apparently not common outside this area.
On Sunday we packed up and headed back into Vernal to check out the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum. The museum was worth the visit and we enjoyed looking through the indoor exhibits and then strolling through he outdoor garden. The museum has a lot of hands on, which is great for the younger crowd and we ended up spending about an hour checking everything out. I would not say that it is a must see but if you have the time or are looking for some air conditioning it is a good way to kill some time.