Dinosaur National Monument…

Vernal Dinosaur KOA was home base for a little dinosaur expedition.  Nice place to spend a few days exploring.

Dinosaur National Monument is known for its dinosaur fossil beds.  These fossils are from the Jurassic period 150 million years ago.  In 1909 Earl Douglass, of Pittsburgh Carnegie Museum said “the best-looking dinosaur prospect I have ever seen” was in this area.  The jumbled bones of over 500 dinosaurs representing 10 species have been discovered here.  The park straddles the Colorado-Utah border on the edge of the Unita Basin.

There are several Visitor Centers, as in other National Parks.  Quarry Visitor Center is a wealth of information, great exhibits, and an interesting video about the area.  It’s the only Visitor Center in this area where you can take a shuttle to the Quarry Exhibit Hall.  This amazing building is around this great outside wall of bones with over 1,500 fossils embedded in the rock!  There is a small part of the wall that allows you to touch the 149 million-year-old fossils!

The Visitor Center has a 24 mile round-trip Auto Guidebook for the Cub Creek Road “Tour of the Tilted Rocks.”  The first stop is “Swelter Shelter” rightly named!  It is one of oldest known sites of human occupation.  Stone tools found here are up to 7,000 years old.  Little is known about these people but are referred to as the Desert Archaic culture.  The pictographs and petroglyphs on the walls date back 1,000 years to the people of the Fremont Culture.

The landscape is unique with eroded sandstone features and plenty of petroglyphs.

Josephine Bassett Morris is somewhat of a local legend.  She settled in the area in 1914 built several cabins the last one being constructed in 1935 as seen in the picture.  On the property she raised and butchered cattle, pigs and chickens.  Canned the harvest from her vegetable garden and fruit orchards.  The only source of heat was from wood burning in the fireplace, no electric, and her water came from a spring.  It was said she did some cattle rustling twice but was never convicted and was an alleged associate of outlaw Butch Cassidy.  In 1964, while feeding her horse she slipped and fell on some ice and suffered a broken hip.  She was able to drag herself into her house where friends found her days later.  On the way to the hospital she realized she probably would never see her homestead again.  That spring she passed away at age 90.

While traveling this country, we have often thought of those pioneer families that crossed rugged terrain, endured hardships, endless work, little conveniences, and challenges few of us encounter today.  Strong, relentless, resilient people.  Again, we are humbled!

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