Dinosaurland

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So far we’d seen lots of nature and some farming but between Colorado National Monument and our next destination Dinosaur National Monument we were very definitely in mining country. It wasn’t clear what was being mined – we think natural gas in some places and we also saw oil pumps along with miles of pipes and powerlines. When we got to the ‘Welcome Centre’ near the park we were told that we had better book accommodation straight away as everything was very busy with “all the oil work that is going on”.

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The visitor centre at the park was okay but the main event is a cliff face of dinosaur bones which are still in-situ and protected by a large glass building. Due to traffic congestion you can only get there by taking a short shuttle ride. I wasn’t expecting to be that excited about the exhibit but you walk in (after a long walk up a wheelchair accessible ramp) and are suddenly facing an huge wall of enormous bones – it is breathtaking. After gazing in wonder at this massive collection of fossils, which are the result of a large number of dinosaurs who died in a riverbed during a drought and were later washed up here (like a log jam of bones), you go down to the bottom of the cliff where you are allowed to touch quite a few of the bones – which is pretty special.

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We walked back from the exhibit via the fossil discovery trail and saw fossils, petrogylphs and a striped whipsnake! We did a bit more exploring and stayed in a ‘Kabin’ at a campground in Vernal which was a nice break from sleeping in the van. Next day we were off to Flaming Gorge where we saw an otter – very cool! We stayed at Dripping Springs campground which is in 19,000 acres of park that was burnt in 2002. The amount of damage caused by fires here is astonishing. There are fires raging in about 5 nearby states and the air is very hazy with smoke.

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Oh dear… Next stop Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks – bear country!

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About Julia Bradshaw

Historian and writer living in Hokitika, New Zealand. Special interests are the goldrushes, the West Coast of New Zealand, crime and the stories of women and Chinese on the goldfields. Also keen on tramping (hiking) and involved in the Mt Brown Hut Community Project.
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