Finding Utah

Quarry at Dinosaur National Monument

The quarry at Dinosaur National Monument in the late 90s before Benjamin was born. The building began to sink, and it was closed to rebuild it when we went back there in 2012 so Benjamin has never seen the quarry,

While searching for slot canyons, I find Road Trip Ryan‘s very nice travel site. In addition to an extensive list of slot canyons, each with a page of descriptions, directions, and maps (and a handy page on the canyon rating system), Ryan also has all this great information for petroglyphs, Indian ruins, hot springs, caves, ghost towns, and other geological oddities out west, mostly in Utah. It will take a while to get through all of it. I had already been looking at some petroglyph sites, so those are especially exciting to find.

Ryan says on his ghost town page, “Utah’s West Desert is a barren place, far more populated by wild horses and coyotes than people.” Wait… wild horses? There are wild horses in Utah? A little searching on that finds the BLM’s Utah Herd Management Areas and the Wild Horse Tourist site. We will need to find these horses. We’ve gone looking for wild horses before with a tiny bit of success on Shackleford Banks.

Wild horse in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Wild horse in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Another find at Ryan’s site is the Burpee Dinosaur Quarry. We love us some dinosaurs! Turns out there’s a museum too, the Burpee Museum of Natural History; looks cool, it is associated with the quarry, and I mark it on the map, but it turns out to be up near Chicago. I guess that’s for another trip. While I’m looking around Hanksville, Utah for the quarry, I spot the Mars Desert Research Station. So, I mark that too. I’m having trouble finding the quarry. Google doesn’t even know where it is. I find more articles and see that they have had tours every summer, but I see nothing on a tour schedule for this summer, just instructions to go to the Bureau of Land Management there in Hanksville if you want a tour. I do find current prices for getting to actually dig up dinosaur bones out of the quarry. It costs over a thousand dollars for a week, and you don’t get to keep them, of course.

While I’m trying to find information on the Burpee Quarry north of Hanksville, I discover another, maybe better dinosaur quarry to the south of Hanksville, the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, which is so cool that it’s also called the Jurassic National Monument. In this quarry has been found the densest concentration of Jurassic-aged dinosaur bones in the world. Their site doesn’t have hours; they still show “Closed for the season”. That’s something you encounter when you plan a vacation in the winter. But it does say that it’s only $5 for admission.

While marking these places on the map, I notice that I’ve already marked some other places around Hanksville, a couple of slot canyons and Goblin Valley State Park. And can’t forget that Martian research station. It’s looking like a pretty interesting area.

Then I find the Utah Geological Survey’s Fossil Guide! They have a list of rock collecting sites where you can pick up some wild geodes, chunks of agate, petrified wood, obsidian, quartz, and other neat rocks. And that’s just the beginning! Their site is really nice; they have an interactive map with tabs for dinosaur trackways, museums, and fossil quarries. In addition to the Cleveland-Lloyd quarry, they also list the quarry at Dinosaur National Monument on the border of Utah and Colorado, where I had already planned for us to go on this trip. Terry and I have been there before, but before we could take Benjamin there, the building began to sink. When we took Benjamin out west to see dinosaurs, we did go to Dinosaur, Colorado, but he didn’t get to see the quarry. So, we need to go there again.

A bunch of their dinosaur trackways also mention petroglyphs! I had no idea there were so many. So, now I have Ryan’s lists of places to go through as well as the Utah Geological Survey’s lists. I have to carefully go through that list of museums. We’ve been to several museums up in that area, and while it wouldn’t be the worst thing if we went back to one we had been to before, I want to look back over our previous trips and see exactly where we’ve been.

So I have a lot of places to mark on the map. And find those wild horses!

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