When Ed and I set out on this adventure in our beloved Whack-A-Mole Wheels home we had only one destination on our itinerary, the southeastern parts of Utah that we had not been able to explore in 2018 due to the emergency eye surgery in Provo. I had mapped out our route through Medicine Bow (the Scotts Bluff visit being a last second whim) and then a stop at Dinosaur National Monument before heading south for Arches, Canyonlands, etc. As we came along west, I decided not to bother with Dinosaur….then I decided what the heck let’s go….then I decided nah, let’s skip it. The morning we headed out from dry camping north of Steamboat Springs (another last second whim visit) south on pretty RT 13 and then west on RT 64 for Rangley CO. I said to Ed, “What the heck, it’s still early and we’re practically there, let’s go to Dinosaur.” Decisive ain’t I😉
While I had done a little reading about Dinosaur National Monument, it turns out I had not quite got the details correct. I knew that there were two separate entrances about 26 miles apart. The first, with the most land area in Colorado, and the second smaller area in Utah. A couple of miles east of the tiny town of Dinosaur, off US Route 40, I knew that the Colorado entrance, Harper’s Corner Rd, went about 30 some miles in and was an in & out road,( you drive in then back out on the same road). I knew that the road actually went from Colorado into Utah and back into Colorado. I knew that just getting into the monument required driving a number of miles on a dedicated park service road. I also “knew” the famous quarry wall exhibit was back in on Harper’s Corner Rd. We pulled in, skipping the visitor center. The road starts to climb at once and up and up we drove enjoying the expanding view and the lack of other cars. At the top the good paved road mostly runs near the rim of the plateau where overlooks afford wonderful views across the surrounding mountains, and deep canyons.
I kept telling Ed, “I don’t know where the fossil wall place is, I know it’s supposed to be back a ways. I’m not sure where? At least it’s a beautiful drive!” Then we arrive at the end of the road! We park and get out nodding hello to the handful of other folks. One gentleman, asks me if I know where the fossil quarry place is, and I allow as I thought it was here but clearly not. We walk a short way out a path and decide against taking it as it heads down hill and what goes down, has to come up. 😊 We laugh with the guy I spoke with earlier about our joint mistake, but agree it was worth the drive. I started to get a sneaky feeling about my goof. Ed and I notice another family and wander over to ask if they knew what the deal was and yup, I really blew it. The quarry is on the Utah entrance side!! We all laugh and chatted about the beauty of the place and our confusion. This man also told us about Green River Campground over in the Utah part where there were a good number of first come, first serve dry camping spots. Taking our time to stop at the overlooks we skipped coming in, we headed back out for Jensen UT where RT 149 is the road into Dinosaur National Monument (Utah side) and the campground.
The next morning we drove out RT 149/Club Creek Rd to where the pavement stops. Here the dirt road forks and we proceeded left on Josie Ranch. Just a short ways down we pulled over to look at the first set of Fremont Culture petroglyphs. Further down the road there’s another pull out where we stopped to make the short climb up to the more extensive collection of petroglyphs.
Continuing down the road we arrive at Josie’s ranch. Josephine (Josie) Bassett Morris was born January 17, 1874, in Arkansas. Involved with Butch Cassidy, as well as several other outlaws Josie was married four times, divorcing (and perhaps poisoning one) all her husbands. Josie moved to homestead here on Cub Creek in 1913. With the help of her son Crawford McKnight (father husband #2) she built a log cabin and lived here, ranching (cattle rustling) by herself for the next 50 years! Sustaining a broken hip when a horse knocked her down, Josie finally had to leave her home and died a few months later at age 90!
Finally, after all the fun we’d already had at Dinosaur National Monument, we drove over to the visitor center (Utah) and took the required shuttle up to see the world famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry!
I am sooooo glad I woke up and changed my mind! Fascinating on so many levels and we both agree, put Dinosaur National Monument on your MVL (Must Visit List) and SEE IT ALL!!!