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CASTLE COUNTRY

PRICE TO CANYONLANDS, UTAH 

Price, Utah

Just a few miles south provides most services travelers could want and some world-class paleontology stops. 

Utah State University  Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum

This place has some real prehistoric monsters: impressively mounted skeletons of unique local dinosaurs such as gnarled nodosaurs and the Utahraptor stand with Allosaurus, Utah’s state fossil.  Ice age animals are dominated by the world’s best Columbian Mammoth, standing over archaeological exhibits representing one of the finest collections in the country.  That includes info on Paleoindian and Fremont cultures, artifacts such as the famous Fremont figurines, reproductions of rock art from the nearby Nine Mile Canyon, and the stuff of daily life in prehistoric Utah. This museum sits in the center of thousands of prehistoric sites, so seldom will you find as close a link with exhibits in their original geographic setting.  The CEU Prehistoric Museum has impressive displays of world-renowned specimens, a gallery for rotating exhibits and minerals, real ‘living fossils’ including an alligator and other Mesozoic-age reptiles, and an extensive children’s area for hands-on fun.  Open seven days April-September; closed Sunday OctoberMarch; hours differ by season; 155 East Main Street, Price.  

Admission fee. 435-613-5060 or 800-817-9949;  http://museum.ceu.edu/index.htm

 Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry

A phenomenal deposit of dinosaur bones resulting from a still-unexplained phenomenon, the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry NNL is an opportunity for folks to see fossilized bones still in the ground and some of the challenges faced by paleontologists working to understand the story of Life on Earth.  The friendly and knowledgeable staff at this BLM managed site are there to help visitors see what paleontologists see and follow the methods scientists use to try and unravel this puzzle hidden since the Age of Dinosaurs.  The newly renovated facilities include 20 new exhibits at the visitor center and new viewing platforms and exhibit down in the quarry building.  Walking the trails or lunching in the picnic area or photographing the multicolored rocks and slopes of the surrounding uplands and badlands are other commonly enjoyed activities at this semi-remote site.    Quarry open mid-March through October; days and times vary with season. Hwy. 10 south from Price to Cleveland/Elmo turnoff; then follow signs. Price BLM Field Office, 435- 636-3600 or www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/price/recreation/quarry.html.   Fee.

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Green River, Utah

Green River is a kind of “last chance” fuel stop and jumping-off point for attractions in all directions. Fuel up, stop for lunch and stretch your legs on the bank of the Green River that runs along the town’s main street.

John Wesley Powell River History Museum  

Located on the banks of the Green River, this museum celebrates one of the country’s most courageous explorers, recounting Powell’s epic voyages down the Green River and through the largely unexplored Grand Canyon – all in small wooden boats. Exhibits tell the story of later river runners, the development and improvement of river craft, and contemporary river recreation. The adjacent art gallery features local southwestern artists.  A film of Powell’s exploits is shown regularly in the large auditorium.  

Open year ‘round; hours differ by season. 1765 East Main Street, Green River. Fee. 435-564-3427; http://www.jwprhm.com/
 

Helper, Utah

Buried Treasure

In the Western Mining and Railroad Museum, low-fidelity, muffled jazz, and blues drift through the old Helper Hotel wing. It’s all here: major events such as the United Mine room, Castlegate Mine explosion room and personal mining items such as lanterns, lamps and bird cages. Butch Cassidy even makes an appearance.

When we visited, then-museum director James Boyd walked us through the town’s history, from the Denver & Rio Grande survey that turned up abundant reserves of coal to the arrival of narrow gauge, standard gauge (gauge refers to the spacing of the rails) and the intertwined growth of the mines and railyard. Drawing on the momentum of America’s third wave of immigration in the 1890s, agents of the mines successfully recruited workers in Europe and Asia such that Helper became a vibrant melting pot in the heart of Utah.

Boyd adds, “Of course, there were also a number of Hispanics who followed a mining route up from New Mexico into Colorado to Utah and most of them had become citizens in the Gadsden Purchase back in the 1850s. I asked a Hispanic [visitor to the museum] once where he came from and he said ‘I’m an American. I’ve always been here. My family goes back to the 1600s.’”

For more information go to https://www.visitutah.com/articles/a-walking-tour-of-helper-utah/

 
 

Museum of the San Rafael  

This small museum in Castle Dale, Utah, is full of Indian artifacts; bobcat, desert bighorn sheep, and other local wildlife specimens in their natural habitat and, dinosaurs! Impressive mounted specimens of Chasmosaurus and Albertosaurus face off against each other in a central gallery. The sound effects are up to you. Across the street is the Pioneer Museum giving a glimpse into 19th-century life in central Utah.   Both museums on 96 North 100 East in Castle Dale.  435-381-5252; www.museumsanrafael.org