Where else but Western Colorado and Eastern Utah do RV travelers have the chance to explore prehistoric America while enjoying outstanding outdoor recreation? The Dinosaur Diamond, five hundred miles of scenery, ancient history and outdoor play, is a fantastic family RV vacation destination.
Discovering the Dinosaur Diamond
The enormous area covering portions of two states can make the Dinosaur Diamond drive seem daunting. Fortunately, DinosaurDiamond.org has put together four helpful maps to keep your vacation on track. Here’s the basic route shown on those maps:
- From the East, start your vacation at Grand Junction, CO, four hours from Denver on I-70. Then it’s time to head northwest just twelve miles to the town of Fruita, CO, where Colorado National Monument is waiting to amaze you. Even if you only have time to hike one of the many trails at the monument, the tall mesas and sweeping red rock canyons might just reveal rare wildlife such as golden eagles and carnivorous collared lizards!
- Colorado’s Dinosaur Diamond Scenic and Historic Byway then turns north on Hwy 139 toward Dinosaur National Monument by way of Douglas Pass. Although the Discovery Center is closed for remodeling until September 2011, there is plenty to do at this Monument to America’s prehistoric past. Hike the half-mile Fossil Discovery Trail that leads along an exposed rock face where dinosaur bones, smaller fossils and rock layers formed over millennia tell the story of this extraordinary valley. Campgrounds on both the Utah and Colorado side of the Monument accommodate RVs, so why not spend the night and then spend the next morning river rafting through Dinosaur’s awesome canyons?
- Have extra time in your vacation itinerary? Head north on Hwy 191 at Vernal, UT to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. RV campgrounds near Flaming Gorge ensure you’ll have a scenic home base among splendidly red and green canyons. Float, fish or hike the Green River all the way to Wyoming, if you’re so inclined; there are hundreds of thousands of beautiful acres to be explored.
- Once you’re back on US-40, continue your scenic drive southwest through the towns of Roosevelt and Duchesne, Utah, and take time to visit Starvation State Park, where a reservoir filled with walleye and a very nice campground welcome weary RVers.
- Ready to find more of the dinosaurs that give this scenic drive its name? The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry is a working site where more than twelve thousand dinosaur bones have been recovered. Come to the visitor center to see fascinating skeletal reconstructions and scientific exhibits spanning fifty years’ excavation.
- Once you’ve finished dinosaur hunting, swing back east on I-70 to the town of Green River, Utah in the gorgeous Gunnison Valley. Get a history lesson on Green River exploration at John Wesley Powell River History Museum, and then if you’re game for some canyon paddling, use this handy guide to the Green River to plan your trip.
- We’re not finished finding natural treasure and we’ve saved some of the best for last! Arches National Park, that startlingly beautiful collection of windswept arches and rock towers, sits between I-70 and Moab, Utah. There’s a campground on-site at Arches for RVers, so make reservations for your trip. Hike the trails, go rock climbing or enjoy the park’s two scenic drives. Don’t miss the chance to see this natural wonder as you finish driving the Dinosaur Diamond.
There you have it, a quick sketch of the amazing variety of natural, historic and recreational attractions to be found along Colorado and Utah’s Dinosaur Diamond. Pack the RV for an epic journey; you won’t want to miss a single mile of this remarkable byway.