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THE CANYONLANDS

ATTRACTIONS NEAR MOAB, UTAH

Moab, Utah

Its spectacular setting and the mountain bike have put Moab on the map. Once a sleepy former Uranium-boomtown, it’s now the largest, most recognizable, and most cosmopolitan town in southeastern Utah. Make your first stop the Moab  Information Center at Main and Center Streets. This multi-agency visitor facility in the center of town is a wealth of information from weather and road conditions to lodging, outfitters, and every other type of service for travelers you can think of. Great book and gift shop, too.  www.discovermoab.com 

Moab Museum

Introduce yourself to the geology and human history of Utah’s canyon country and the Colorado Plateau at the Moab Museum, a Small Museum with Big Stories. The exhibit experience features profiles of the region’s indigenous peoples, Euro-American exploration and settlement, ranching and mining, the Cold War uranium boom, and the rise of adventure-based tourism. Artifacts, historic photographs, and oral histories bring these stories to life, while a large-scale relief map and marine fossils focus on the region’s ancient geology and life forms that are millions of years old. Special exhibits highlight the people, events, and contemporary dynamics in Moab and southeastern Utah. Open Tuesday – Saturday; hours vary by season. 118 E Center Street, one block east of the Moab Information Center. (435) 259-7985. www.moabmuseum.org.

Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail  

Spot fossil bone fragments of Allosaurus, Camptosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Camarasaurus on this self-guided walking tour. Remnants of a 1800s copper mill can be seen on the south side of the canyon.   15 miles north of Moab on Hwy. 191, turn left at intersection just north of marker 141; the trailhead is two miles past railroad tracks. Dirt road inaccessible when wet.

Trail brochure available at Moab BLM Field Office, 82 East Dogwood, Moab. 435-259-2100; http://www.utah.com/playgrounds/mill_canyon.htm 

Poison Spider Tracks Site  

The prints of a dozen different carnivorous dinosaurs of various sizes are preserved on this slope along  State Scenic Byway 279 paralleling the west side of the Colorado River. Individual Grallator tracks are also scattered on several slabs on the slope. See some of the tracks through a roadside viewing tube or make the moderate scramble up the cliff face for a better view. Watch for petroglyph sites along the road, too.

At Mile 6 on State Scenic Byway 279 (three miles north of Moab), known locally as the Potash Road.

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Dinosaur Stomping Grounds

A gradual up-hill 1.7-mile hike is required (3.4 miles round trip). The pedestrian trail parallels a mountain bike trail then branches off, follow rock cairns to the Jurassic age track site. There is a net elevation gain of 459 feet.

How to Get There:
From Moab, go north on US 191 for 23 miles. Turn right 3/4 mile past milepost 148. Cross the railroad tracks and follow the main road for 1 mile. Take the right fork (left fork goes to the Copper Ridge Dinosaur Trackside) and continue for just over half a mile to the North Klondike Mountain Biking Trailhead parking area. The trail departs from here. A high clearance vehicle is recommended.

Bull Canyon Overlook 

The Bull Canyon Overlook site is northeast of Moab. It features the tracks of at least one theropod (meat-eating dinosaur). Stride length measurements at the site indicate one or more dinosaurs moving at different speeds, this makes Bull Canyon Overlook unique. These tracks are located in the late Jurassic Entrada Sandstone. The United States Forest Service (USFS) is in the process of placing interpretive signs in the area, and parking is less than 100 yards from the site.

How to Get There:
From Moab, go north on US Hwy 191 for 2.5 miles to the intersection of UT-128 (River Road). Turn right and head east 15.5 miles. At the La Sal Loop Road intersection (turn to Castle Valley) turn right and continue 10.7 miles. Continue on this road (FR207), do not follow the La Sal Loop Road signs when they turn right (southwest). Continue 5.4 miles passing the signs for Fisher Mesa. Approximately ½ mile beyond the Fisher Mesa turn park in the lot on the left (northeast) just before the road turns to dirt
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Edge of the Cedars Museum and State Park  

The Edge of the Cedars State Park preserves and interprets the remains of an ancient Pueblo Indian village. Take a short trail around the ruin and descend into a reconstructed ceremonial kiva. The adjacent museum houses an excellent collection of Anasazi pottery and other exceptional artifacts.   Museum open daily; hours vary with season. 600 West 400 North on the west side of Blanding, Utah.

Fee. 435-678-2228,  http://www.utah.com/stateparks/edge_of_cedars.htm 

Dinosaur Museum, Butler Wash Dinosaur Track Site

Just south of Blanding puts an emphasis on feathered reptiles and the many recent discoveries in China linking dinosaurs to birds. Superb life-size models abound. Particularly entertaining is the History Hall of Hollywood Dinosaurs featuring posters and memorabilia from dozens of famous and not-so-famous dinosaur movies and other pop culture representations such as comic books, toys,  and models.  

Open Monday-Saturday, April 15 – October 15. 754 S. 200  West, Blanding. Fee. 435-678-3454; http://www.dinosaurmuseum.org