I know that the traditional image of dinosaurs is as being an interest that children outgrow, but I have to admit that I’ve never outgrown my interest in dinosaurs. So when I was looking at routes between Salt Lake City and Yellowstone and saw Dinosaur National Monument on there, I knew that we had to visit it.
In 1908 a group of paleontologists had found the femur of a Diplodocus near Vernal, Utah. Most of the bones had already been removed from that area, but farther on, they found a line of Apatosaurus tail bones. This area became the Carnegie Quarry. I cannot find any definitive answers regarding how many dinosaurs have been found there, but the tail bones they found were part of an entire Apatosaurus which is now on display in the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh.
Alex and I arrived relatively early that morning, driving through the rain from our hotel in Vernal to the Jensen entrance to the park. We nosed around in the Visitor’s Center for a while and then took the tram up to the Quarry Exhibit Hall, which encloses what is left of the original Carnegie Quarry. And there’s really not much left of the quarry. There’s a diagram showing that the current Quarry Exhibit Hall area is about a quarter of the size of the original wall. If you take it in three dimensions, it’s an even smaller proportion than that.
Alex and I spent quite some time looking at the bones in the wall. I took lots of pictures and asked two women working there what I should make sure to photograph. The one who answered me said that she liked an area that was mostly spines.
There is also a spot where visitors can touch one of the bones in the wall. Of course Alex and I had to touch it, because why pass up an opportunity like that?
About a thousand years ago, this area was also home to the Fremont, a Native American people. The Fremont left their mark on the region as well (though more intentionally than the dinosaurs did). Some of the rocks of the park have petroglyphs and pictographs. Petroglyphs are designs carved into the rock and pictographs are designs painted on to the rock.
We had to hit the road if we wanted to spend any more time in Salt Lake City, so we only went to the closest section of petroglyphs, in what is known as the “Swelter Shelter.” I had seen pictures of the drawings of humans out by McKee Springs, but the road out there is dangerous when it’s raining, so we opted not to go out that far. Maybe someday, though.