Justin & I have a goal of visiting all the national parks. Which, on a side note, has increased to 61!! So now we are at 46/61 (still close). But I digress.
National Parks are just one of the types of units in the National Park System. There are also National Monuments, National Historic Sites, National Recreation Areas, etc. These add up to 418. (Another side note, we know someone who is currently on a 3-year continuous journey to visit them all & will complete his goal this April! But I digress again.)
After we visit all 61 National Parks, we will start tallying how many of the 418 National Park Units we’ve been to. The point is, we definitely don’t skip them.
This past week, we were in the midst of our work for Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in between Subaru Winterfest weekend events at ski resorts. In route from one ski area to the next, we knew we needed to hunker down to get some work done, but we also knew we wanted to explore a new place.
Enter Dinosaur National Monument!
On the border of Colorado and Utah, this is as gigantic as the dinosaurs that once roamed here. It is most known for being one of the richest dinosaur fossil beds. Way back in the day when dinosaurs were dying off due to drought, they did so near a river’s edge. Sediment covered the jumbled bones and when the rains returned, they moved together and gathered more. Minerals filled in, entombing the dinosaur bones in stone. Erosion happened and exposed them in 1909. (Another side note, I think I explained that so well, I should be a paleontologist!).
Finding any dinosaur bones would be exciting, but finding TEN species in one area was the jackpot. Dinosaur National Monument was quickly established in 1915, preserving all the history. In fact, there is a great big exhibit hall enclosing the “Morrison Formation,” a sandstone wall two stories high full of 1500 fossilized skulls, femur and tails.
Beyond the dinosaurs, other ancient Native American life existed in this historic area, as evidenced by petroglyphs and pictographs.
Most of the park roads were closed because of the snow, so we used our human power to get to the preserved cabin of Josie Bassett Morris. This woman lived in the middle of nowhere, on her own, for 50 out of her 90 years (she died in 1964). Basically my heroine.
We had wanted to visit Dinosaur National Monument for awhile. And it exceeded our expectations!!! In terms of parks that appeal to kids, this one is spot on.
The best part was that we were there during the off season. Justin & I often visit NPS units during off seasons purposely. It may mean that parts of the park are closed. But it also means less crowds!! Dinosaur can see up to 1500 people/day in the height of the summer. In contrast, we were the ONLY 2 PEOPLE in the park!