Dinosaur Quarry (Dinosaur National Monument, UT)

Quarry Exhibit Hall, Dinosaur National Monument, June 2022

Scenic hiking trails abound in the woefully underexplored canyons of Dinosaur National Monument, but it is the famed fossil quarry that gives this Utah/Colorado park its name. Here, in 1909, paleontologist Earl Douglass began what would become one of the most famous digs in the world, uncovering a massive trove of dinosaur skeletons along a hillside in the Morrison Formation outside Vernal, Utah. The “Carnegie Quarry”—named for the funder—soon revealed an incredible bounty of bones, including near-complete remains of Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, and others.

Today, the quarry is by far the most popular destination in Dinosaur National Monument. To visit, park at the Quarry Visitor Center and take the short shuttle bus (which runs regularly) to and from the Quarry Exhibit Hall. More ambitious travelers can hike the 1.2-mile Fossil Discovery Trail, which connects the Visitor Center and Exhibit Hall by way of an arcing path that cuts through several rock layers. Highlights of the hike include views of small petroglyphs, some dinosaur bone fragments, and ancient clam beds.

The Exhibit Hall itself is a feat of engineering: a covered, multi-level space built right up against a section of the hillside where visitors can gaze on the unordered remains of several dinosaurs. Apparent bone fragments can be seen, strewed this way and that—underscoring the challenge of organizing and cataloguing skeletons after time and erosion has scattered the fossils. While many of the best skeletons have been shipped off to various museums around the country, there are several that remain here, including an awesome nearly-full skeleton of a juvenile Camarasaurus and a large Allosaurus.

It is easy to spend several hours here, gazing upon the historic fossils, watching the video in the Visitor Center, and hiking the Fossil Discovery Trail. Pair this with a nearby hike or two to make for a full day in the Utah portion of Dinosaur National Monument.

Start of Fossil Discovery Trail
Femur bone
View from Fossil Discovery Trail, with Green River beyond
Approaching Stump Formation and Nugget sandstone
Morrison Formation along Fossil Discovery Trail
Carnegie Quarry at Quarry Exhibit Hall
Quarry Exhibit Hall
Long vertebrae
Allosaurus cast
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2 Responses to Dinosaur Quarry (Dinosaur National Monument, UT)

  1. Pingback: Mitten Park Trail (Dinosaur National Monument, CO) | Live and Let Hike

  2. Pingback: Mitten Park Trail (Dinosaur National Monument, CO) | Live and Let Hike

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