There is an amazing hike in eastern Utah that is technically in Dinosaur National Monument, although an admission fee is not required. We did this hike in the Fall, and the colors were stunning yellows mixed with late summer greens. We had such an amazing time on this easy hike! Jones Hole Trail has so many things to offer. There are petroglyphs, animals, a beautiful creek, and the small Ely Creek Falls where you stand right next to the water.
The trail starts at the bottom of the Jones Hole Fish Hatchery, which is worth a visit, too. The path winds around the bottom of the fish hatchery on the outside. Then, the trail follows the creek gently downhill. The water is clear, and our boys even spotted a few fish swimming right up close to the bank. We took dozens of pictures because there were so many beautiful spots along the way. Though the trail had a few spots that were a bit muddy, we were always able to avoid the mud with a short detour.
About a mile into the hike, right after crossing the bridge, there is a short side trail that turns off to the right. In a very short distance there are some nice petroglyphs. As with all antiquities, please look, but leave no trace. Make sure to walk along the mountainside and find all the amazing petroglyphs in the Deluge Shelter. This short trail parallels the main trail for only about a hundred yards before rejoining the main trail.
A little farther on there is a trail junction and some primitive camping sites. (The sites are just past the junction, so go back if reach them.) We saw four bighorn sheep right in the campground, so keep your eyes open and be alert. Turn up the trail to the right, and it is only a short distance to Ely Creek Falls. There is a sign at this junction to help you find your way.
The waterfall itself is only about 15 feet high. Our boys quickly climbed to the top and stuck their arms in to try to stop the water. They didn’t have a chance, but they had fun trying. This is a perfect waterfall for taking pictures because you can get right up close and feel the spray on your face.
Jones Hole Trail continues all the way down to the Green River, and is an 8.0 mile roundtrip hike. By hiking out to just Ely Creek Falls, we hiked 2.25 one way, so about 4.5 miles roundtrip. The trail is flat and easy and beautiful.
We loved this hike: it is a manageable distance, there is a lot to see, and it is mostly flat. Ely Creek Falls was our favorite hike on our visit to eastern Utah.