Dinosaur National Monument is a fossil bone quarry where visitors can see fossilized remains still fixed in the rocks. Petroglyphs show earlier human culture, and scenic views and river canyons provide opportunity for sightseeing and recreation.
Earl Douglass was a paleontologist working at Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1909, Douglass traveled to Utah to look for dinosaur fossils. Years before, he had nearly completed an entire Diplodocus skeleton from Wyoming. The Pennsylvania public loved it, so he was eager to find more fossils for Carnegie Museum. He and his workers excavated thousands of dinosaur fossils at Dinosaur National Monument beginning in 1909 while doing work for the museum. The site near Vernal, Utah, quickly gained worldwide renown for its paleontological research potential. President Woodrow Wilson established the fossil beds as a national monument in 1915. Besides dinosaurs, the site shows culture from past civilizations. Prior to the fourteenth-century, the Fremont people inhabited the region. They left ceramic artifacts, petroglyphs, and pictographs which visitors today can still see.
The Wall of Bones is perhaps the most interesting feature of Dinosaur National Monument. It is a cliff wall with more than 1,500 dinosaur fossils from the late Jurassic period still embedded in the rock. Guests are even permitted to touch the fossils themselves. Another feature is the Quarry Exhibit Hall, the location where Douglass first discovered multiple fossils in 1909. It has fossils, footprints, and exceptionally rare specimens like a fossilized juvenile Stegosaurus.
Dinosaur National Monument provides ample opportunity for sightseeing and recreation. Adventure-seekers can whitewater raft down the Green River and see the towering landmark Steamboat Rock while they appreciate the scenery of the canyons and valleys. They can choose private or commercial rafting trips, which can be as short as a day or as long as a week. Dinosaur National Monument was also made into an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. This limits light pollution to allow for better star-gazing. Visitors can camp at one of six different campgrounds, or choose to explore the wilderness to find their own camp site. Dinosaur National Monument contains many miles of hiking trails along rivers, through canyons, and across vast expanses. Picnic areas are available throughout the monument, as well as at the Quarry Visitor Center, Canyon Visitor Center, and the Josie Morris Ranch.