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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😉


Meadows Campground Routt National Forest above Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Fine dry camping.

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.


From the plateau Echo Park Overlook on Harper’s Corner Road.


Iron Springs Overlook.  The Green and Yampa Rivers have cut canyons across the landscape which contribute to these magnificent views, this one having been cut by the Yampa River.

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.


Surprise! The Green River flows right next to the Green River Campground! To all the campers, we really recommend this park.  Dry camping with really good water out of the scattered hydrants.

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.


Petroglyphs are scratched into the desert varnish on the rocks, while Pictoglyphs are painted or drawn on the rock with natural dye paints.


These are considered of the Fremont Culture.

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!


This is Josie well into her life at Cub Creek.  Marti had a blast researching her life and intends to keep looking.  We do suggest you have a look for yourselves. Josie, her sister “Queen” Anne Bassett, oh and their mother, were really something, think Butch and Sundance…  Wikipedia…


Josie’s cabin has been partially restored although the inside is full of dirt… It is a lovely location for a home though.

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!


This dinosaur fossil bed was discovered in 1909 by Earl Douglass, a paleontologist working for the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburg.  The quarry contains eleven different species of dinosaurs and over the years they have supplied museums around the world.  Odd as it may sound this amazing wall of fossils is now considered repetitious.  While there are digs still very much being done in other locations of the monument this vast pile is no longer being excavated….the world has all of these guys it needs!

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!!!


Overlooking Echo Park from a different point of view.


Where’s Marti? Canyon Overlook.


Looks just like the Sunday funnies… sort of.  Enormous amounts of scholarship have been done on petroglyphs all over the southwest, but Ed wonders if it wasn’t just some bored prehistoric teenagers out for the afternoon.


Desert lizards, there are a number of them on this wall, but the big one is over six feet long.  He is so impressive that all the brochures have his picture, the lizard not Ed.


Marti finds this fascinating because it is so different from so many petroglyphs we have seen. Ed, on the other hand, thinks she looks like Sally from the Peanuts comic strip.


Pretty high up on this cliff wall, we saw packrat nets. Debris piles of everything from stones to mud, to any bit of this or that are built into the nest. The packrat uses urine which crystallizes as it dries holding everything together.  Some of the nests have been carbon-dated at 15,000 years old. Home is where the heart is…


Looking down on Whack-A-Mole Wheels on Cub Creek Road from the petroglyph cliff wall.


Hiking back up Josie’s box canyon, Marti had to climb up to the peek-a-boo hole in the rocks.  She needed a boost up as it was harder than it looked.


The box canyon right behind Josie’s cabin where she corralled her horses and livestock. Now that we know more about her, tucking things into box canyons might be something she learned from some rather nefarious friends! 🙂


The Green River that John Wesley Powell explored on his way to the Colorado River is just beautiful,  strong and clean.  It also in many places appears very green.  The mountain in the middle of the picture is Marti’s new favorite, Split Rock Mountain.


Ed just really liked this big-ass rock overhanging the Green River just up from the campground.


Bones, bones and more bones in the Quarry Hall.


Leaving the Green River Campground the next morning rain was on our horizon.  This was a good thing as it helped clean off the gobs of dead grasshoppers we had collected all the way across Nebraska on the front grille and bumper of the rig.