National Parks/Monuments Utah State Parks

Things to do in Vernal

The quarry at Dinosaur National Park lets you touch this fossil

The quarry at Dinosaur National Park lets you touch this fossil

Last year we went to Vernal for Spring Break. Of course, we put a lot of time into coming up with family friendly adventures and then blogging about each of those outings. Recently, a friend ask us, “Is there anything fun to do in Vernal?” We decided to create this summary post for anyone searching for information on Vernal. Here are the highlights of our trip. For a full description, click on each link:

Dinosaur National Monument: This is the main reason people go to Vernal. They’ve reopened the quarry, which has hundreds of fossils all in one place. There are also several hikes, petroglyphs, and a historical cabin to visit at Dinosaur NP.

Ouray National Wildlife Refuge: As big time birders who’d rather spend the day looking at Sandhill Cranes than the beach (unless the cranes happen to be on the beach) we find ourselves stopping at many NWRs. Birds weren’t the main highlight of Ouray, though. We really liked the lazy porcupines hanging from the trees. Just west and south of Vernal, Ouray is a great place to view rabbits, birds, small rodents, and of course, porcupines.

Utah Fieldhouse of Natural History Museum: Located right in Vernal, this museum is what you probably remember from visiting Vernal as a kid. Large dinosaurs inhabit the gardens outside, and inside there are fossils and displays. No trip to Vernal is complete without a stop at this museum.

John Jarvie Historical Ranch: A long way from civilization, this ranch is hidden way up near “3 corners” (where Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado meet). Turn of the century cabins and artifacts look the way they did over 100 years ago in this untouched gem that once served as a busy river-crossing. This one is for the truly adventurous!

Red Fleet/Steinaker State Park: Most people go to these twin parks for the water activities, but we highly recommend a hike. One of the best hikes we’ve done takes you through beautiful scenery down to the edge of the lake. A huge slab of rock is imprinted with hundreds of dinosaur footprints. When we get back to Vernal, this hike will be on the top of our list to do again.

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