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Dinosaur Bones & Petroglyphs

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.

Dinosaur National Monument by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

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.

Dinosaur Quarry by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Close-up of a dinosaur skull.

Dinosaur Skull by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A rock wall full of dinosaur bones.

Dino Bones by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look as some of the bones and plates from a Stegosaurus.

Bones & Plates by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

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.

Swelter Shelter by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

More petroglyphs found in the Swelter Shelter.

Swelter Shelter Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

View from the Swelter Shelter

Swelter Shelter Man by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

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.

Cub Creek Anthropomorph by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Higher up there were more figures pecked into the sandstone.

Upper Cub Creek Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I’d seen plenty of photos of these lizard petroglyphs before and was glad to finally visit them and take a few photos.

Wall of Lizards by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look at the largest lizard.

Big Lizard by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

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.

Lizards & Me by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This disappearing flute player was also much larger than I thought it would be.

Flute Player by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This guy has some pretty large hands.

Big Hands by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Continuing down the road to the Josie Morris Cabin.

Tour of Tilted Rocks by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After checking out the Josie Morris Cabin again, I took the short hike into Box Canyon.

Box Canyon Trail by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

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.

Standing Sheep by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Broken Man by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

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…

McKee Buffalo Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

McKee Guards by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Over Split Mountain by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

McKee Sentinel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

McKee Sun Shield Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Warrior Shield by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Cat Man by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The shadows were getting pretty long by the time I came back down from the petroglyphs to the Jeep.

Island Park Road by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

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.

Island Park by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

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.

Echo Park Road by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Grass, Clouds & Sky by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

To Echo Park by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s a small cabin near Pool Creek that we passed along the way.

Pool Creek Cabin by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Amanda wanted to take a photo of the Picasso Face and here’s what she came up with.

Framed Picasso Face by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer photo that I took.

Picasso Face by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

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.

Small Dotted Anthropomorph by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

These petroglyphs are very unique because they are drilled instead of pecked. You don’t see that very often in rock art.

Pool Creek Warrior by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look.

Pool Creek Petroglyph Detail by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Of course we stopped in Whispering Cave.

Whispering Cave by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We finally reached Echo Park.

Echo Park by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Pool Creek enters the Green River.

Pool Creek by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Steamboat Rock reflected in the Green River.

Steamboat Reflection by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Parked at the boat launch. One day I need to raft the Yampa River!

Jeep and the Green by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Leaving Echo Park.

Leaving Echo Park by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

On our way back out of the park I spotted this lone Cottonwood tree that really stuck out to me.

Lone Cottonwood by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

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.

Green & Gold by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Looking down on Highway 139 from Douglass Pass.

Book Cliffs Highway by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

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!

>> Dinosaur Bones & Petroglyphs Photo Gallery

One Comment

  1. Melany
    Melany July 5, 2014

    I enjoyed reading your trip report from Dinosaur National Monument. I found it via Google search for Island Park Road. I’m heading there later this month, and I’m hoping you can give me some “must see” spots. On the day we arrive, I plan to hit the museum in town, check into the hotel, then hit Island Park Rd to McKee for evening photos and sunset – probably night photos as well. Do you remember what part of the day is best for shooting various petroglyph areas? I see that late afternoon is best for Mckee (PERFECT!) but what about the others? I love night photography, and I’m fascinated by petroglyphs, any idea where I can set up to use them in the foreground for a milky way shot? I think it’d be cool to light paint that scene!
    Thanks for this blog, and your info.

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