Rediscover Your Childhood Joys in Dinosaurland, Utah

Dinosaurland, or Vernal, Utah is the adult playground you didn’t realize you have been craving. Dinosaurs, counting stars, dancing, splashing in the water, and did we mention dinosaurs?
Prepared By:

Casey A.

Traveler, writer, editor

Dinosaurs. Splashing in the lake. Dancing without a care. Floaty toys and drawing on the wall. Counting the stars. That list brings a smile to your face and memories to the surface, doesn’t it? There might just be a place in Utah where you can relive these childhood delights, and we’re willing to let you in on the secret: Dinosaurland.

This story was created in partnership with Dinosaurland, Utah. All photos from Dinosaurland.

Dinosaurland, or Vernal, Utah is the adult playground you didn’t realize you have been craving all through 2020—and probably longer than that. This year is the time to make it happen and go enjoy some good, clean playtime. “How can I have all this pure, childlike fun without looking like a fool or being irresponsible?” you ask. Well, here’s your guide:

Dinosaurs!

Dinosaur fossil in Dinosaurland, Utah

Vernal is home to Dinosaur National Monument, where you can have a hands-on experience with prehistory. The national monument is over 200,000 acres of dinosaur fossils, footprints, and prehistoric sites that make for a veritable playground. Don’t miss the Wall of Bones, where you can actually touch the fossils where they rest in an ancient cliff-side. Walk along the footprints of a baby Stegosaurus at the Quarry Exhibit Hall. Then, stick around waaaaay past your bedtime to appreciate this International Dark Sky Park and all the stars you can’t see in many parts of the world.

Splashing and floaty water toys

Pack your adult floaty water toys like paddle boards and kayaks, and hit up the toy aisle for a squirt gun or two. Red Fleet State Park is the place for cliff jumping, kayaking, and SUP fun. Just a few miles from Vernal, this state park has hiking, boating, and areas for camping or picnicking, so make a day of it. Don’t forget your sunscreen.

Cliff jumping in Red Fleet State Park near Vernal, Utah

Or, level up to some whitewater rafting on the Green River, either on your own or with some adult supervision in the form of a guide. The Green offers wild, scream-inducing adventures and relaxing floats—whatever your inner child wants.

Carefree dancing

Every summer, the Dinosaurland community gathers to celebrate good music, local art, and the local river. The John Wesley Powell River Festival takes place the last weekend in July most years. Cut loose and dance to the live music like nobody’s watching. For more good-old-fashioned, fun, enter the cornhole tournament or the Dutch Oven cookoff.

Dinosaur peeking out behind flowers in Vernal, Utah aka Dinosaurland

Drawings on the wall

First, we didn’t say “draw on the wall.” You’ll have to bust out the crayons at home for that. But you can check out some pretty impressive—and ancient—wall art in a couple places. Petroglyphs and pictographs by the Fremont people, an ancient civilization predating the 14th century, can be found at Rainbow Park and Island Park. You can also check out more early wall art at McConkie Ranch, just north of Vernal. Just refrain from taking anything with you or adding your own marks.

Two hikers looking at petroglyphs at Smithsonian Butte, Dinosaurland, Utah

Plus, adult beverages

Don’t miss a drink and meal at Vernal Brewing and Dinosaur Brew Haus. Craft brews and well-made food are the adult version of a birthday party with cake AND a bouncy haus. Besides, how else are you going to fuel all your Dinosaurland fun?

Bartender pouring Vernal Brewing beers in Dinosaurland, Utah

Find more ideas for your trip to Dinosaurland in our four-day itinerary in the area.

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