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Just over the Utah state line on U.S. Highway 40 is Musket Shot Springs, a roadside rest and interpretive site managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The site overlooks an area traveled by the Dominguez-Escalante Expedition in 1776. Legend says the thirsty travelers came upon two springs at the base of these mountains. The springs were just a musket shot apart, hence the name.

Vernal, Utah

It couldn’t be better located for the visitor.  In Vernal, you’re at the base of the Uinta Mountains and have easy access to Dinosaur National Monument, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, and numerous state and local parks. Your biggest problem will be deciding where to go first!

Dinosaur National Monument – Quarry Side  

The Utah side of this park is where the dinosaurs are! The Visitor Center at the west entrance is closed for repairs, so the temporary Visitor Center provides information on the park’s features, including tours to a dinosaur quarry site, rock art sites, and scenic overlooks. Dinosaur National Monument is just as famous for dramatic canyon scenery as for dinosaur fossils, so be sure to look up from your fossil hunting to take in the views. Drive along Cub Creek Road for more spectacular vistas, roadside petroglyph sites, and a stop at the historic cabin of early homesteader, Josie Bassett Morris. Camp beside the Green River.  Open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day; hours vary by season.

West on Highway 40 to Jensen, Utah, then Hwy.149 to the western entrance. Fee Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. 435-781-7700; dino/index.htm

Utah Field House of Natural History State Park  

This museum, park, and education facility is a premier attraction along the Dinosaur Diamond. Where else can you stroll through a Dinosaur Garden (kind of like a prehistoric zoo) complete with the swamp, lake, waterfall, 20-foot tall Tyrannosaurus with six-inch knifelike teeth, ferocious meat-eating Coelophysis, and then enjoy a nice picnic lunch? The exhibits and interactive displays of dinosaur fossils, fluorescent minerals, and Native American artifacts are so much fun you won’t even realize you’re absorbing over two billion years of earth history.  

Closed major holidays; hours differ by season. Downtown  Vernal at 496 E Main Street.435-789-3799, http://stateparks.

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