Gates of Lodore, Dinosaur Nat Monument, Colorado

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Dinosaur National Monument

Top choice in Northern Colorado

Straddling the Utah-Colorado state line, Dinosaur National Monument protects one of North America's largest dinosaur fossil beds, discovered here in 1909. Though both states' sections are beautiful, Utah has the bones. Don't miss the Quarry Exhibit, which is an enclosed, partially excavated wall of rock with more than 1600 bones protruding – quite the sight to see.

In summer, hours may be slightly extended and you will have to take a shuttle to see the quarry; out of season you may be required to wait until a ranger-led caravan of cars is scheduled to drive up. From below the quarry parking lot, follow the Fossil Discovery Trail, a 2.4 mile round trip, to see a few more giant femurs and such sticking out of the rock. The ranger-led interpretive hikes are highly recommended. Plus there's easily accessible Native American rock art to see on the Utah side.

In Colorado, the Canyon Area is at a higher elevation – with some stunning overlooks – but it's closed due to snow until late spring. Both sections have numerous hiking trails, interpretive driving tours (brochures for sale), Green or Yampa river access and campgrounds ($8 to $15 per campsite). The Quarry portion of the park is 7 miles north of Jensen, UT, on Hwy 149. The Canyon Area is roughly 30 miles east, outside Dinosaur, CO.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Northern Colorado attractions

1. Quarry Exhibit Hall

7.75 MILES

The Utah side of the monument provides the only opportunity to see dinosaur remains and it's quite an impressive sight with some 1500 bones of various…

2. Fossil Discovery Trail

9.72 MILES

This short interpretive trail is excellent for families as it's only 2.4 miles round-trip and you can reach out and touch the bones of dinosaurs…

3. Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall

10.66 MILES

The indoor highlight of the national monument, the dinosaur quarry wall shows off some 1500 dinosaur bones – you can see everything from allosaurus to…

4. Red Fleet State Park

17.02 MILES

Twelve miles northeast of Vernal, Red Fleet State Park offers boating on a 650-acre reservoir, camping and an easy hike to a series of fossilized dinosaur…

6. McConkie Ranch Petroglyphs

25.74 MILES

Worth the drive, the McConkie Ranch Petroglyphs sit 10 miles northeast of Vernal. The 800-year-old Fremont Indian petroglyphs require some rock scrambling…