Dinosaur National Monument

Rocky Mountain National Park Centennial Celebration June 13th-20th 2015
June 13, 2015
Rocky Mountain National Park Centennial Celebration June 21st-28th
June 19, 2015

Dating back to almost 10,000 years ago the cultural, scientific and historical attractions of Dinosaur National Monument are almost unmatched when it comes to the possibilities of discovery.  To this day, native rock art (petroglyphs and pictographs), dinosaur fossils, historic homesteads, rafting, camping and hiking are all big draws to Dinosaur National Monument. Tracing its roots all the way back to the Fremont people we have seen the exploration and settlement of the area span from nearly 200 A.D. well into present day.  Dinosaur offers a little bit of everything for the adventuresome explorers within your group!

One of the biggest draws to the area are the remaining petroglyphs and pictographs that were left behind by the Fremont people nearly 1,000 years ago, to allow us to understand their story now.  Many of these sites are still accessible within the monument, and it has allowed visitors to decipher for themselves the true meaning that these ancient peoples were trying to convey.  Archaeologists in the area have been able to identify and date structures used for housing, all the way back to 200 A.D.  However, the “fate of the Fremont culture is unclear” their history and their people had quite literally dropped off the pages of our history books!  Some have suggested that their lifestyle was effected either from drought, climate change, limited natural resources and more probable, the influence of other cultures within the area.  Some have believed that the Fremont people were simply assimilated into another tribe.  All archeological record of them has near vanished from 1200 A.D. on.

Flash forward to 1909, and we are met with one of the most important discoveries of Dinosaur National Monument; Earl Douglass was a paleontologist from the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh and was determined to find the discovery of his lifetime…and he did when he found “eight dinosaur tail bones protruding from a sandstone hill in the Utah desert.”   The discovery of the dinosaur quarry had achieved worldwide fame and in 1915 Dinosaur National Monument was “established to help protect and conserve that dinosaur quarry.”  The bones that Mr. Douglass had found on that hot August day, turned out to be one, if not the only, most complete Apatosaurus skeleton that has ever been discovered! You can find this discovery still located in the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, where it has lived since 1915.  Mr. Douglass played an essential role in “one of the most important fossil finds in North America” and his legacy it turns out is that his discovery of the quarry was one of the most productive of any Jurassic era quarry that has ever been found!

Homesteading had begun to ramp up around the turn of the nineteenth century, when there began to be a large influx of european settlers as well as fellow Americans making their way West from the eastern United States.  One of the most notable of all the homesteaders was Ms. Josie Bassett Morris. Josie is a woman far beyond her time, not only had she become a pioneer of the west but she had challenged traditional female roles within society; having been married five times and divorced four, as well as refusing to wear skirts, only wearing slacks, she was something of an anomaly for the time in which she lived.  Josie’s original homestead was in Cub Creek in 1913 where she had built her own cabin and survived off of the surrounding landscape for over 50 years! Living well into the 1950’s Josie was almost a relic of the past…not embracing technology she continued to live off of the land she had now called home. Passing away in May of 1964, her original cabin, and roughly five acres of her original acreage, still stand and can be visited today.

People from all over the country, regularly visit the unique and cherished space that is known today as Dinosaur National Monument.  Giving visitors a truly once in a lifetime experience you are able to play archeologist, historian, rafting guide and camper extraordinaire all within the surroundings of this 210,000 acre monument.  You do need to keep in mind however that the monument is spread across two states (Colorado and Utah), so you’ll want to make sure when planning your adventure you know right where to go.  You can make sure you are on the right path by reading below and following our suggestions for the places you “Gotta See” and especially the “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” sections!  Dinosaur National Monument is one of the few monuments that you are able to not only camp at, but that you can have your pop up camper rental at as well!  Located in the Northwestern part of Colorado, Dinosaur is about a 4.5 hour drive from Denver and a little over 3 hours from Salt Lake City.  Our Passenger Van as well as SUV rentals give you 150 miles per day (free!) which is something that you are not likely to find at any other rental company….the good news for you is that Dinosaur is less than 200 miles from where we sit at our shop!  Are you interested in white water rafting or kayaking? Dinosaur is definitely a place that you want on your list….skip the tent camping afterwards, you will want to reward your tired body with the relaxation and comfort of spending your trip in a pop up tent camper.   A combination rental would be an ideal way to experience the amazing camping, sightseeing and white water rafting that you could ever want!

“Gotta See It”–These are a few of the best spots to snap a photo, the best drives to take and things that you just…gotta see!  And remember, we at Adventure Camper Rentals would love to hear about your trip and see your photos posted to our Facebook page!

-Quarry Exhibit Hall-Located on the Utah side of the park, you are able to get up close and PERSONAL with some dinosaur bones that are still exposed within the rocks.  Covered by a modern building, you are provided a nice enironment in order to get up close in personal with dinos!

-Harpers CornerLocated on the Colorado side, this is a great vantage point for following the kayaks and rafters as they make their way down the river like little ants marching through the lawn.  You’ll be treated beautiful vistas (great place to snap a photo) and the feeling of awe as you sit 2,000 feet above all the action.

-Rainbow Park and Island Park-Looking for more of a wild west experience? You are going to want to visit the far northwestern corner of the monument.  Here is where you are going to be able to view the beautiful Fremont petroglyphs (McKee Springs) as well as watch thousands of acres open up into those beautiful wide open spaces


“Not All Who Wander Are Lost”–The best trails, campgrounds, and all the little details you need to know to have the time of your life in Dinosaur National Monument.

Best Trails/Rafting Areas

  • Gates of LodoreLocated at the northern tip of the monument, this area is the best spot to not only enjoy scenic views but it is also a great place to put-in as well as to enjoy the hiking trails near by.  You can sign up to go on a mulit-day rafting trip that takes you on a 45-mile trek along the Green River.  As for hiking, the Gates of Lodore trail itself is a short trip that is 1.5 miles round trip; rated easy this hike will treat you to scenic views once you reach your destination at the entrance of the Lodore Canyon.
  • Echo ParkLocated in the “heart of Dinosaur’s canyon country” echo park is a beauty to behold! This is where the Yampa River flows into the Green River and winds around Dinosaur’s most well known landmark, Steamboat Rock.  Here you will find petroglyphs, homesteading history as well a a great place to picnic and put in if you plan on getting out on the river.  There are no established trails in the Echo Park area but there are a significant amount of routes that you could walk along to explore the surrounding area including Mitten Park or Jenny Lind Rock.  **You should not hike in this area unless you are experienced with a map and compass**
  • Fossil Discovery TrailLocated at the Quarry Exhibit Hall visitors to this trail will experience a 2.4 mile roundtrip hike that is moderate with some steep, uneven sectiosn and rocky areas.
  • Jones Hole Trail–Located on the Jones Hole Fish Hatchery, this hike is a bit of a trek to get to….47 miles north of the Quarry Visitor Center.  The paved road is kept plowed during the winter and is open year round.  Being an 8.5 mile roundtrip hike this trail is not for the light hearted!
  • River Rafting and Boating–Many find the lure of the Green and Yampa Rivers in the monument to be more than they can handle…especially if they are active kayakers or rafters! You can either sign up for a Commercial Guided Trip or a Private Trip both however, require a permit as well as advanced reservations. Keep in mind if you are planning on going solo: The Green River has multiple challenging Class III and Class IV rapids, as well the Yampa River sports many Class III and Class IV rapids and both are only recommended to serious boaters.


Campgrounds-Dinosaur National Monument is a great place to bring a pop up tent camper, getting you off the hot ground, you are treated with a little bit more cover than you would be tent camping.  There are six different campgrounds and over 120 sites to choose from! Three campgrounds are located on the Utah side and three are located on the Colorado side.


-Green River (4795 feet)Reservable from May-September and First-Come-First-Serve during the off season.  Located only five miles from the famous dinosaur quarry, Green River Campground is the most convenient of all campsites.  There are 72 sites that accommodate both tents and campers and they run $12/site/night; there are no hookups however, there are restrooms with flush toilets available.

-Split Mountain (4800 feet)Showing its age, the Split Mountain towers over the campground and you are instantly brought back to a time many thousands of years ago.  You are centrally located close to the dinosaur quarry as well as the Split Mountain Boat Ramp where you can disembark from the Green River.  Open to tents and campers this site is $25/night/site and offers no hookups.  There are water and flush toilets available from April through early October.

-Rainbow Park (4960 feet)This is a first come, first served campground that is located about 28 miles from the Quarry Visitor Center.  Conveniently located on the Green River, the boat ramp is just a hop skip and a jump away at the head of Split Mountain Canyon.   This site is for tent camping only and has 4 sites available.  There are no hookups, however you do have access to site picnic tables and campfire rings.

-Gates of Lodore (5356 feet)All sites are first come first serve, however, the campground rarely gets filled up! Located right at the Green River boat ramp at the head of Lodore Canyon.  This is a great spot to camp at if you plan on doing hiking, boating and any sort of exploring.  You will be amongst the “river rats” as this is a favorite spot for rafters.  There are 19 sites total, some are lucky enough to be shady.  You are treated to running water, restrooms, picnic tables and campfire rings; unfortunately there are no showers or hookups.  The sites are $8/night/site.


  • Nitty Gritty Details
    • The Monument is open year round
    • Entrance pass is $10
    • Annual Pass is $20


Remember!! Adventure Camper Rentals offers you a 20% discount if you book two reservations within the same year…Why not visit the same place twice or keep the adventure rolling somewhere new!  Adventure Camper Rentals is your source for affordable vacations….one memory at a time.

*Information pulled from the National Park Service, personal experience, and great stories*

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