Dinosaur Monument – Vernal Utah

We survived over 200 days and the rumors are true…..  I (Shannon) drove over 75 miles of the trip to get here.  The only hiccup – Dave didn’t teach me about how to stop.  So I might have overshot the rest stop by a few feet (or 50).  But hey it is a start!

We found some boondocking (dry camping, no hookups on public land) for our first night.  Our location south of town was a little buggy (on a marshy section of the Green River).  The ground here is ripe with oil and we actually parked on natural asphalt.  I didn’t even know that was a thing.

Per Wikipedia –

Large amounts of asphalt occur in concentrated form in nature. Naturally occurring deposits of asphalt/bitumen are formed from the remains of ancient, microscopic algae (diatoms) and other once-living things. These remains were deposited in the mud on the bottom of the ocean or lake where the organisms lived. Under the heat (above 50 °C) and pressure of burial deep in the earth, the remains were transformed into materials such as asphalt/bitumen, kerogen, or petroleum. Much smaller heavy oil or bitumen deposits  occur in the Uinta Basin in Utah, US.

Natural asphalt - it's a real thing!

Natural asphalt – it’s a real thing!









Bugs and traffic drove us away from that site and over to Green River Campground inside the national park.  Green River Campground keeps 2/3 of the 80 sites open for first come, first serve.  With the holiday over, the mass exodus of travelers left us with a wide open campground and plenty to choose from.

Our site sits right on the river and we go down in the evenings to enjoy a cocktail on the banks of the river.  Oh yeah, this is Utah — ah just a nice glass of water with ice:-)

Relaxing by the Green (but really muddy brown) River

Relaxing by the Green (but really muddy brown) River


Greenriver Campground
















We toured the dinosaur quarry (very impressive) and did a few interpretive walks. Did you know that most of the dinosaur bones located around the country (including Smithsonian, Chicago, New York, Pennsylvania) are all from this very excavation site?  And they were found because a Stegosaurus spine was sticking up out of the top of a hill.  Now that I have been here and see what the fossils look like – I can’t tell you if I would have even recognized it as anything more than rocks.  Dinosaurs are cool and you don’t have to be a kid to appreciate this park.

IMG_3756 IMG_3754















We also went to an old homestead cabin belonging to Josie Bassett Morris.  Dave swears we aren’t related to her.  But I saw pictures and she was a stubborn willful woman who homesteaded by herself, ran her ranch and did everything from building her house to running her cattle and raising chickens.  I think that is very ‘Bassett – like’.  Very impressive and a beautiful area.  She had rerouted a stream to water her cattle and gardens.  So it is a nice oasis in the desert surrounding by red cliffs.











Josie Bassett Morris House







Along the way we hiked through tons of petroglyphs.  Some as big as 6 feet across and looking like aliens.  Seriously — those aliens have been to Utah too!  It’s not just area 51…


Of course, we made it to the local brewery – Vernal Brewing.  Great food and so-so beer.  Just down the street from the local BLM office.  So we have even more information on boondocking locations.



We have a few more hikes and tourist attractions to see here and then off to Park City as we continue our trek back to Bend.

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