Return to Dinosaur National Monument
Saturday & Sunday, October 15 – 16, 2011
I’ve wanted to get back to Dinosaur National Monument most of the year to re-photograph some of my favorite petroglyphs and visit some new ones. I had to be patient while the Fossil Bone Quarry was being rebuilt because Amanda really wanted to check out the dinosaur bones. At the end of September the Quarry finally reopened and we were looking forward to getting back up there. Since I was was in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah for the first week in October we had to wait until the third weekend in October to finally spend a weekend there.
On Saturday morning we left early and drove right to the park.
Our very first destination was the newly rebuilt Fossil Bone Quarry. It has never been open when we’ve been to the park before, so this was our first time there.
Close-up of a dinosaur skull.
A rock wall full of dinosaur bones.
A closer look as some of the bones and plates from a Stegosaurus.
After checking out the Quarry, we continued on down the Tour of the Tilted Rocks. Our next stop was the Swelter Shelter, which was named that by researchers who excavated it in the heat of summer. It is one of the Monument’s oldest known sites of human occupation with projectile points found here that may date from as long ago as 4,000 to 7,000 BC. There are many faint petroglyphs and pictographs here that date back to the Fremont Culture about 1,000 years ago.
More petroglyphs found in the Swelter Shelter.
View from the Swelter Shelter
We followed the road past Split Mountain to Cub Creek where we visited some more petroglyphs. This large anthropomorph was in the first area we stopped at.
Higher up there were more figures pecked into the sandstone.
I’d seen plenty of photos of these lizard petroglyphs before and was glad to finally visit them and take a few photos.
A closer look at the largest lizard.
I knew these lizards were pretty large, but was still surprised to see just how large they were in person. Here’s a photo with me taken for some scale.
This disappearing flute player was also much larger than I thought it would be.
This guy has some pretty large hands.
Continuing down the road to the Josie Morris Cabin.
After checking out the Josie Morris Cabin again, I took the short hike into Box Canyon.
On the way back I stopped to photograph a few more petroglyph panels in better lighting. If you look closely in the middle of this panel near the top you can find three bighorn sheep petroglyphs that appear to be standing up on their back legs.
After some dinner back in Vernal we drove up towards Island Park to catch the sunset. The petroglyphs around McKee Springs are some of my favorites and I wanted to get some better photos of them in the nice late afternoon light. The sky was very nice this evening and I’m very happy with the photos I took. Have a look for yourself…
The shadows were getting pretty long by the time I came back down from the petroglyphs to the Jeep.
I had just enough time to finish driving to the Island Park Overlook and setup for a sunset photo over the Green River. The Cottonwoods down in Island Park were just starting to change colors.
When the sun was finally down we drove back to Vernal and checked into our hotel for the evening. After a good nights sleep we were back on the road and planning on re-visiting some sites on the Colorado side of Dinosaur National Monument before heading home.
A few photos from our drive to Echo Park.
Here’s a small cabin near Pool Creek that we passed along the way.
Amanda wanted to take a photo of the Picasso Face and here’s what she came up with.
A closer photo that I took.
We stopped by the Pool Creek Petroglyphs so that I could get some better photos. The last time I was here my photos didn’t turn out so great. These are much better.
These petroglyphs are very unique because they are drilled instead of pecked. You don’t see that very often in rock art.
A closer look.
Of course we stopped in Whispering Cave.
We finally reached Echo Park.
Pool Creek enters the Green River.
Steamboat Rock reflected in the Green River.
Parked at the boat launch. One day I need to raft the Yampa River!
Leaving Echo Park.
On our way back out of the park I spotted this lone Cottonwood tree that really stuck out to me.
Driving home towards Douglas Pass in the Book Cliffs I stopped to photograph a few fall colors. These yellow trees were really catching the light and glowing bright.
Looking down on Highway 139 from Douglass Pass.
We had another awesome weekend in Dinosaur National Monument and can’t wait to go back. It always seems like we have a great time when we head up there…there’s just so much cool stuff to see and photograph. It’s certainly one of our favorite areas to explore!