Best place to see dinosaur fossils in the US: Vernal

Vernal, a rural town located in northeastern Utah, may be one of the top places to visit in The West. There's good reason to believe so. People travel from across the globe to its copacetic setting, that's home to ancient history and outdoor activities. Fossils dating back more than 100 million years, Native American petroglyphs, rafting and biking, are just some of the attractive aspects of Vernal.
Prepared By:
This story has been created in partnership with Visit Dinosaurland, Utah.

Biking Vernal in the Wild West

Biking is, no doubt, one of the top reasons to visit Vernal. Three highly-rated trail complexes act as a magnet to bikers across the globe. Take the McCoy Flats, for example. Just ten minutes outside of Vernal, 40 miles of interconnecting, well-signed routes meander through a stunning desert landscape. The visuals are evocative of true wild-west movie scenes, like those from The Three Burials, or Once Upon a Time in the West. You can pick from a profusion of trails in the McCoy Complex alone, with routes catered for beginners, intermediates, and advanced riders alike. The same goes for the Lapoint and Red Fleet complexes, also within a stone’s throw from Vernal.

Secluded river sessions – with a splash of adrenaline

Biking aside, rafting trips are another key reason to visit Vernal. Three companies offer downstream adventures on either the Green River, or Yampa River. You can also signup for hiking excursions. The locally owned company, Dinosaur River Expeditions, might be your first stop. They have a 5-star rating on both TripAdvisor and Google Reviews, with 98% of TripAdvisor visitors rating their service as excellent.

On these raft trips, you’ll meander your way around ancient mesa formations, experiencing the finest scenery in The West. It’s a chance to disconnect, and immerse yourself in true nature – with a splash of adrenaline on top. Other companies you should reach out to are Adrift Rafting, and OARS, both of which offer exceptional rafting and quality service.

Dinosaur National Monument, 20 minutes from Vernal

Dinosaur National Monument is another global magnet for Vernal. It is perhaps the most alluring aspect of the destination. Some 200,000 acres of land preserve evidence of an impressive time in Earth’s history. It’s hard to imagine animals, 70 ft in length, roaming in abundance across the US – but the evidence shows it to be true. The Quarry Exhibition, within the monument, allows visitors to view approximately 1,500 fossils, presented in a comfortable and relaxing setting. A beautiful 80 ft mural tells the story of the Morrison region during the Late Jurassic, and to top it off, you can touch fossils dating back 149 million years.
Dinosaur National Monument’s fossils exhibit across the globe because of their unparalleled quality. It owes the success to its topography. The region’s lowest point sits at around 5,000 ft, while it’s highest point, at 9,000 ft. This dichotomy allowed a diverse ecosystem to flourish – and for Dinosaur National Monument to boast of all its fossils. The park is open year round, and is a mere $20 to enter. It’s a place of profuse natural beauty and incredible intrigue, and is well worth visiting.

To conclude

Vernal is home to a lot of exciting, interesting attractions. You can do all the outdoor activities you want, be it biking or hiking, and you can immerse yourself in deep history, ranging between 149 million years ago, to 100 years ago. It has it all, so check in there on your visit to The West.

Other Places & Experiences

Hidden Gems & Road Trip Tips

Subcribe to get road trip ideas & travel tips for your next great American adventure.

Find out the location of the hidden gem pictured below in our next newsletter!

Photo courtesy of @Ronakp967 via Instagram.


Thank you for signing up for the "Best Kept Road Trip Secrets" newsletter coming to your inbox soon!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share Your Adventure