Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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Exploring the canyon part of Dinosaur National Monument

I got a fairly early start, and was back on the road before 8am. My primary destination for the day was the "canyon" part of Dinosaur National Monument.

I entered the park via Harpers Corner Drive, which I followed to its end. On the way, I encountered deer, sheep, and what might have been a bobcat - unfortunately, it disappeared into the shrubs so fast that I couldn't get a second look.

I briefly debated doing Harpers Corner Trail, but then decided against inflicting further strain on my knees. Instead, I backtracked around six miles, and headed east on Echo Park Road. This was an unpaved dirt road that began with several sharp switchbacks and some loose rock, but then quickly turned tame.

Driving the unpaved Echo Park Road in Dinosaur National Monument The descent into the canyon contrasted the green of shrubs and smallish trees with yellow/beige smooth sandstone rocks. Further on in the valley, the dominant view would be that of small green shrubs that were in contrast with the light brown earth.

While crossing Pool Creek (mere inches deep), I met up with a park ranger in some big SUV. He had his window down, and we both stopped. In the short conversation that ensued, he warned me of road work ahead, and ended it by telling me to "take it slow", that is, drive slow. I really hadn't been speeding before, and there wasn't really any way he could have seen me approach anyway, so I guess this was just a general advice they gave everyone.

I briefly stopped at the Jack & Rial Chaw Ranch, that was used from around 1910 to the 1970's. What remains now is one main building and two adjacent sheds, as well as a horse wagon.

Further ahead there was some road work going on - they were blading the road surface, which explains why much of the ride was so smooth. While I waited for the road work to clear enough for me to get past, I took more pictures at a small shed, with an old plow lying up front. It had obviously seen better times, but looked really scenic; surrounded by red rock, in an environment where farming didn't immediately came to mind.

Steamboat Rock in Dinosaur National Monument As I got closer to Steamboat Rock, near the confluence of Green and Yampa Rivers, the side walls around be approached and got rockier and steeper. I parked near the river, and looked for a place where I could get through the trees lining it, and get a better view. I found a place, and took two handheld panoramas.

Pretty soon, I was on my way back. I stopped at Whispering Cave, then at the Petroglyphs - they were on a rock face about 35 feet from the canyon floor. Maybe the canyon floor was still higher up and not eroded as much when they were created.

Dinosaur National Monument - Fossil Bone Quarry

The Fossil Bone Quarry only makes up a very small part of the national monument, and yet it inspired the name. But I quickly found that I didn't care much for the building with the few fossilized bones. Maybe because it's not much more than a glorified information panel, and I am not interested in watching information panels when I can find more than enough information on the internet before or after my trip, and instead spend the time outside.

I was in and out in less than half an hour, which includes time spent waiting for the bus shuttle (although I could have walked) between the car parking and the quarry building.

On the road again... heading into Wyoming

Meanwhile, the sky had started to get cloudy again, and it looked like rain might pour down any second. I decided to head into Wyoming, towards Yellowstone.

I briefly stopped at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, but the cloud cover dulled the colours and wasn't conductive to photo-taking, so I soon headed on. A few miles later, I listened to a NPR radio report on the performances of American athletes at the Olympic Games - back at home people would refer to or ask me if I had seen particular events, and I would invariably answer that I was in the American desert and didn't have any TV access.

I took Highway 191/373 into Wyoming, fueled up at Rock Springs, WY; and then spent the next couple of hours driving north on Highway 191. Since the time between deciding to take go on this US trip and embarking on the plane was so short, I hadn't had time to do much travel planning. As such, I would drive through most of Southern Wyoming without stopping. I didn't know enough about the area to make any detours, and there were no obvious sights, so I just pressed on.

Sunset at my campsite for the night Shortly after sunset, I saw a sign pointing towards a BLM campground on my right. Up until then, I hadn't seen any obvious camping spots, and was weary about heading on towards Jackson, WY; because all reports I had read indicated that the relative popularity of Grand Teton and Yellowstone meant that many surrounding camping spots would fill up. I didn't really want to take that chance, so I turned off the highway, and into the campground.

After a brief chat with the caretaker, I settled down on what was a pretty nice campground - spacious and small, and pretty cheap.

I took a few pictures of the bright red after-sunset sky, and pretty soon dozed off.

Miles driven: 401mi (645km)

Motel/Hotel Accommodation: Warren Bridge campground (Near Pinedale, Wyoming): $6