The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of adventure in and around Dinosaur National Monument. The dinosaur remains may be 150 million-ish years old, but there is other (more recent history) here too. Here are some happenings in absolutely no particular order…
Magmasaurus Magic Volcano.
We actually purchased this in Montana, but figured our Magmasurus should be born from an erupting volcano in Utah. After three weeks, the head is a bit crooked and the sorry Magmasurus looks smashed inside her plastic cylinder. She remains the centerpiece of our table. The tail never grew. We still can’t decide on a name. This is an extremely worthwhile purchase.
The Dinosaur Quarry.
This is an obvious and necessary stop. See the impressive wall of dinosaur bones! A huge chunk of bones were excavated and sent to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh (back in the day). But plenty remain…it is quite a rare and exciting experience to walk into a building sheltering a wall of bones. The interpretive rangers and park volunteers are super smart and informative. Don’t forget to see the Allosaurus skull! You can even touch the bones in some areas.
If you walk down the Fossil Discovery Trail from the Quarry there is the Morrison Formation. (My dad walked past the entire wall of fossils and missed all of them). Take your time and you may see a vertebrae and femur along with many other bone fragments. There are apparently 10 different species of dinosaur just in this area!
I don’t even know. You are looking at dinosaur bones. That is just cool. There are also lizards.
Josie Bassett Morris cabin.
Josie’s family homesteaded in Browns Park (just outside the monument). Josie grew up in the Wild West, and her family hosted outlaws such as Butch Cassidy. As an adult, Josie built her own cabin in Cub Creek and made a life.
She grew vegetables, tended chickens, and owned a successful cattle business (and was previously accused of cattle rustling—twice). She divorced four husbands and pretty much did her own thing during a time when women really didn’t do their own thing. Josie’s cabin stands today, along with the original fencing and chicken coop. The cabin is at the end of the road—a red dirt road that is impassable when wet. I can’t imagine living there in minus 20-degree winters and 100-degree summers!
Box Canyon and Hog Canyon are two short hikes from the cabin–the canyons that Josie used to pen her animals. Box Canyon is eerily quiet, other than echoed words and dove calls (presumably a dove, but I’m not strong in my bird sound recognition).
(Info. on Josie from park literature and placards at the cabin). There are several books dedicated to Josie’s misadventures…one titled Dinosaurs and Moonshine: Tales of Josie Morris Bassett and Jensen’s Other Unique History and Folklore. (Hell of a title).
(See more on petroglyphs and the Fremont Culture in the post Dinosaur: First Impressions). There are some incredibly beautiful and detailed petroglyphs throughout Dinosaur Nat’l Monument. Unfortunately there is some deal of graffiti and gunshot holes included (P.S. If you did that, you are an asshole). But, that said, the lizards are mostly unscathed other than from weathering over the last 1,000 years. There is one section of rock with 7 lizards crawling.
Jurassic Park III.
We watched this in the visitor’s center, which seemed really quite perfect. I was terrified to walk home in the dark. Also, don’t watch that.
(To be continued…a weird petroglyph ranch, Mary Poppins, and dinosaur tracks!)