Timpanogos Cave

Timpanogos Cave

Timpanogos Cave National Monument sits high in the Wasatch Mountains, on the north slope of Mt. Timpanogos. Timpanogos Cave is comprised of three limestone caverns connected by man-made tunnels. A short but strenuous hike of 1.5 miles is required to reach the cave, located 1,000 feet above the canyon floor. As visitors climb to the Timpanogos Cave entrance they are offered incredible views of American Fork Canyon. Temperatures inside the caves are about 45-degrees Fahrenheit, so a light jacket is advised.

Timpanogos Caves’ formations – stalactites, stalagmites, dripstone, and flowstone are the result of calcium carbonate and other minerals seeping into the groundwater of the cave. Timpanogos Cave National Monument is open mid-May to mid-Oct., (funding and weather permitting). Tickets must be purchased at the visitor center before hiking to the Timpanogos Cave. You may purchase tickets in advance or the “day of” with a credit card by calling the Timpanogos Cave National Monument on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Advance tickets may be wise for weekends and/or holidays.


Timpanogos Cave National Monument was established in 1922 to protect and provide public access to a series of exotic caves in American Fork Canyon. The interior of the caves is decorated with a colorful variety of dripstone, flowstone, and rimstone formed by minerals in the ground water that enters the caves.

The monument consists of three caves connected by manmade tunnels. Hansen Cave was the first to be discovered, in 1887, followed by Timpanogos Cave in 1915 and Middle Cave in 1921. During the 1890s Hansen Cave was stripped of most of its onyx and other mineral deposits by crews working for a Chicago onyx company. After the other two caves were discovered, local groups and the Forest Service were determined to protect them from the same fate. Designation of the site as a national monument provided the necessary protection.

A number of improvements have been made over the years to make the cave more accessible to the public. A trail was constructed and electric lights were installed in the cave in 1921, and a campground, parking area, and ranger’s residence were built in 1922. These facilities have been upgraded periodically, and new improvements were made as well, such as the installation in 1923 of a telephone system between the base and the cave entrance in order to better coordinate tour groups and guides. The three separate caves were joined by short tunnels in the 1930s, allowing a more efficient, one-way flow of visitors.

Though the cave originally was under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service from 1922 to 1934, and then the National Park Service from 1934 on, it was actually operated for twenty-four years by the Timpanogos Outdoor Committee, a group of local businessmen. Under this unique arrangement, the cave superintendent was not officially an employee of the government, although he wore an official uniform and lived in a house provided by the federal government. The committee operated the cave as a not-for-profit enterprise, using the proceeds from cave admissions to maintain and upgrade the site. In 1947 the National Park Service assumed complete control over the cave operation and has continued to manage it to the present. Timpanogos Cave National Monument continues to draw thousands of visitors each year during its months of operation–May through October.

Park Information

VISITATION: Over 100,000 visitors per year. The majority of people visit the caves between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Tours sizes are limited to 20 people per tour.

Timpanogos Cave National Monument
R.R. 3, Box 200
American Fork, UT 84003

Telephone: Visitor Center/Information: (801) 756-5238

OPERATING HOURS: The cave and cave trail are open from early May to November, weather permitting. The Visitor Center is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m

CLIMATE/CLOTHING: Warm jackets or sweaters are recommended for the cave, comfortable walking shoes, and drinking water.

DIRECTIONS: Exit I-15 North or South at Hwy. 92. Follow Hwy. 92 east 10 miles (16 km) to the national monument. The closest major airport is Salt Lake City International Airport, and is 45 minutes away by automobile.

FEES, COST, RATES: Cave tours are $6 for ages 16 and older, $5 for ages 6 to 16, and $3 for 5 and younger. Cave Tour price 1/2 off for Golden Age and Golden Access cardholders.

Cave tour tickets frequently sell out every day. Tickets may be purchased up to 30 days in advance by calling the Visitor Center at (801) 756-5238 and using your Mastercard or Visa. Tickets may also be purchased at the Visitor Center up to the day of the tour, if still available. Tickets only sold at Visitor Center.

$3 per car entrance fee to enter the canyon. Golden Eagle, Age and Access Passports are honored.

Programs/Activities: Hour long guided tours through the cave. The cave entrance is 1.5-mile walk from the Visitor Center. The trail rises 1,065 feet (324.6m). It will take an average of three hours to hike and tour the cave. 1/4 mile self-guided nature hike also available. Evening Programs every Friday, Saturday and Monday throughout the summer. Picnicking, fishing, exhibits and video program are also available. Jr. Ranger programs Saturday mornings. Special cave tours including Introduction to Caving are offered daily. Call Visitor Center for more information and locations.

Lodging and Camping Facilities: Camping is available in the surrounding Uinta National Forest. U.S. Forest Service campground information is available by calling (801)785-3563. A wide range of lodging is available in Salt Lake City and Provo, UT.

Food/Supplies: Snack bar and gift shop, located next to Visitor Center are open cave tour season. Groceries and gas available 6 miles away from park.

Accessibility: The Visitor Center, concessions, restrooms and drinking fountains are accessible. Video programs are close captioned. 5 Senses Nature Trail is accessible, but has some steep paved areas.

Bookstore: There are book sales at Visitor Center operated by Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, a nonprofit organization.

Many recreational opportunities available in the area including backpacking, day hikes, camping, fishing, skiing and scenic views and drives, rockclimbing, and horseback riding. Sundance Resort host Friday evening programs in partnership with national monument and Uinta National Forest.

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge is the world’s largest natural bridge. Carved from a fin of red Navajo sandstone, the bridge is 290 feet tall and 270 feet across – higher than the United States Capitol Building, and nearly as long as a football field! The span of Rainbow Bridge has undoubtedly inspired people throughout time–from the neighboring American Indian tribes who consider Rainbow Bridge sacred, to the 300,000 people from around the world who visit Rainbow Bridge National Monument each year.

Rainbow Bridge is considered sacred in Navajo culture as a symbol of deities responsible for creating clouds, rainbows and rain – the essence of life in the desert. Rising up at Forbidding Canyon at Lake Powell, the bridge can be reached by boat cruises offered daily from Halls Crossing, Bullfrog or Wahweap Marinas. Rainbow Bridge can also be reached by foot or by horseback from the Navajo Nation and requires a permit.

Please visit Rainbow Bridge National Monument in a spirit that honors and respects the cultures to whom it is sacred.


Rainbow Bridge National Monument consists of a 160-acre block of land surrounded almost entirely by the Navajo Indian Reservation. Its prime attraction is Rainbow Bridge, the largest, the most symmetrical, and arguably the most beautiful natural bridge in the world. Rising 290 feet above the streambed of Bridge Creek, the bridge is 32 feet thick at its narrowest and spans 270 feet. It consists entirely of salmon-pink Navajo sandstone.

Located on the northwest flank of 10,000-foot-high Navajo Mountain, Rainbow Bridge lies on the floor of a deep sandstone canyon, whose sheer cliffs rise as much as 1,000 feet. The setting was so spectacular that Zane Grey wrote a novel entitled Rainbow Bridge, in which the natural bridge takes on a mystical aspect. Former president Theodore Roosevelt, on a visit in 1913, wrote that he awakened several times in the moonlit night to gaze silently at the looming arch.

Although known to Navajos and Paiutes living in the area, the bridge was not formally discovered by white men until 14 August 1909 when two exploring expeditions, one headed by Dr. Byron Cummings, and one headed by William B. Douglass, joined forces. They were guided by two Paiutes, Nasja Begay and Jim Mike. John Wetherill, well-known professional guide and Indian trader, was also listed as a guide (although he had never been there). Their route to the bridge was around the east end of Navajo Mountain. Charles L. Bernheimer sponsored three expeditions to the bridge in the early 1920s. Participating were well-known guides Zeke Johnson and John Wetherill, and archaeologist Earl Morris. The Bernheimer groups opened up a new route through the rugged sandstone canyons west of Navajo Mountain.

President William Howard Taft set aside the bridge as a national monument in 1910. For many years it was one of the most isolated and hard-to-reach units of the National Park Service. However, in 1956 Congress passed an act authorizing the construction of Glen Canyon Dam. Suddenly Rainbow Bridge, which would be on the projected shoreline of the reservoir to be named Lake Powell, became controversial. The act decreed that barrier dams had to be built to keep the lake out of the monument, but the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in 1973 that since Congress had repeatedly refused to appropriate funds for these barrier dams, that special provision of the act pertaining to them had been abrogated.

Navajo Indians maintain that Rainbow Bridge figures prominently in their religion as a symbol of rainfall and fertility. The Navajos were unable to halt the rise of Lake Powell to the bridge, but the National Park Service agreed to prohibit “disrespectful” acts–such as swimming under the bridge.

Because of its proximity to Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge is today heavily visited during the warm months. During 1988 the monument received 238,307 recorded visitors.

A Bureau of Reclamation report dated 1985 stated that a ten-year study showed that the presence of Lake Powell had no effect on the stability of the bridge. The report continued, “Joint controlled rockfall was the predominant erosive process in forming the bridge. [This process is] actively continuing today and will eventually cause the destruction of the bridge.”

W.L. Rusho

Park Information

VISITATION: 300,000 per year. Highest May through September; lowest in January.

LOCATION: San Juan County, UT, immediately adjacent to Navajo Mountain and the Navajo Reservation.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument
P.O. Box 1507
Page, AZ 86040

(520) 608-6404

OPERATING HOURS, SEASONS: Dangling Rope Marina, the closest source of first aid, water, gas, and supplies, is open year-round. A ranger station there is staffed intermittently year-round. Rangers are at Rainbow Bridge daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, less frequently other times of the year.

CLIMATE, RECOMMENDED CLOTHING: Summers are extremely hot with little, if any, shade. Winters are moderately cold with night time lows often below freezing. Spring weather is highly variable with extended periods of strong winds. Fall is generally mild. Temperatures range from 110°F (43°C) in June & July to O°F (-18°C) in December & January. Although precipitation is generally less than 6 inches (15cm) annually, both heavy rains and flash flooding can occur. Recommend lightweight, light colored clothing in summer, including a hat. Layers of clothing are best other times of year.

DIRECTIONS: Public access to Rainbow Bridge is by boat across Lake Powell. Trips to the bridge may be made in private, rental, and tour boats. A courtesy dock is available for short-term docking while people make the 1/2 mile (.8km) walk to the bridge. By boat, it is approximately 50 miles (80km) from Wahweap, Bullfrog, or Halls Crossing to Rainbow Bridge. Some people backpack to Rainbow Bridge across Navajo Nation lands. A permit from the Navajo Nation is required. You may write to: Navajo Nation, Parks and Recreation Department, Box 9000, Window Rock, Arizona 86515.

TRANSPORTATION: If you do not have your own boat you may rent one from ARAMARK, the Glen Canyon NRA concessionaire, or take one of the boat tours from Wahweap, Bullfrog, or Halls Crossing Marinas to the bridge.

FEES, COSTS, RATES: There is no entrance fee to Rainbow Bridge, but fees are charged to enter Glen Canyon NRA. Commercial fees/rates are available upon request to ARAMARK (1-800-528-6154).


Visitor Center/Exhibits: There is a small ranger station at Dangling Rope Marina, approximately 10 miles (16km) south of Rainbow Bridge. Dangling Rope is accessible only by water. This ranger station is staffed by park personnel on an intermittent basis. There is also bulletin board information at Dangling Rope and outdoor exhibits at Rainbow Bridge.

Trails, Roads: There are no roadways. There is a short 1/2 mile (.8km) trail from the Rainbow Bridge courtesy dock to Rainbow Bridge (trail length varies due to fluctuating lake levels). Travel off-trail is not permitted in order to revegetate trampled areas.

Lodging and camping facilities:There are NO lodging or camping facilities at or near Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Lodging and camping facilities are available at some of the marinas within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Lake shore camping from boats is available within Glen Canyon NRA, but not within Rainbow Bridge National Monument boundaries.

Food/supplies: Basic supplies can be obtained at Dangling Rope Marina, approximately 10 miles (16km) south of Rainbow Bridge on Lake Powell. Accessible only by water, Dangling Rope has boat gas, limited groceries, water, boat pump out, and rest rooms. The courtesy dock at Rainbow Bridge has rest rooms only.

Other Concessions/NPS-Managed Visitor Facilities and Opportunities: The park’s concessionaire, ARAMARK, provides boat tours to Rainbow Bridge on a daily basis from May through September and intermittently other times of the year. Both half-day and full-day tours are available at Wahweap. Full-day tours only from Bullfrog and Halls Crossing. For further information, contact ARAMARK at (800) 528-6154.

Accessibility: Wheelchairs have access to the docks and facilities at Dangling Rope. They also have access along the courtesy dock at Rainbow Bridge to exhibits and a view of Rainbow Bridge. Assistance is required to go further along the paved trail.

RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES/PARK USE: Although Rainbow Bridge is immediately adjacent to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, it is a separate unit of the National Park System. Rainbow Bridge was declared a National Monument in 1910 and, as such, the range of permitted activities is smaller than for the recreation area. Visitors may take the trail from the courtesy dock to the viewing area for the bridge. We ask that visitors respect the religious significance of Rainbow Bridge to neighboring tribes and consider viewing Rainbow Bridge from the viewing area rather than walking up to or under the bridge (for more information about the religious significance of Rainbow Bridge click here). Traditional water-based recreation activities such as swimming, fishing, water skiing, etc. are not allowed anywhere within the monument.
RESERVATIONS/PERMITS: Special Use Permits are required for special activities or organizations wishing to utilize the area for official functions. A Film Permit is required for any commercial filming activities. For further information call (520) 608-6200. A hiking permit must be obtained from the Navajo Nation in order to backpack around Navajo Mountain to Rainbow Bridge. Call (520) 871-6647 or 4941 for further information.

BASIC VISIT RECOMMENDATIONS: Visitors should plan on a minimum of four hours to boat to the bridge, hike to the viewing area and return to their original destination. A minimum of six hours if they leave from the Hite area of Lake Powell. Boat tours are 1/2 day (Wahweap only) and full day (8 hours)

Pipe Springs

Pipe Springs National Monument

Pipe Springs National Monument is an oasis in the desert. With four springs in the immediate area and what used to be rich grasslands, Pipe Springs has long been inhabited. Ancestral Puebloans and Paiute Indians were the first people drawn to Pipe Springs National Monument by the water. Later, Mormon settlers, attracted by the water and grasslands– said to have grown “belly high to a horse”– called Pipe Spring National Monument home and established a ranching operation. In 1923, Pipe Spring was set aside as a National Monument to preserve this rich history. Today, visitors can tour the remains of this Mormon cattle ranch at Pipe Springs National Monument which was established in the late nineteenth century. A fully furnished historic fort, Winsor Castle at Pipe Springs, allows visitors to step back in time and relive Mormon pioneer life. For more Pipe Springs National Monument information be sure to get a Grand Circle Travel Packet!

Park Information

VISITATION: 55,000 visitors annually. Fall, winter, and spring are periods of lower visitation. These periods offer excellent opportunities for bird watching. Because summer months bring the greatest number of visitors, most demonstrations, walks, and talks are scheduled for that period.

LOCATION: Located on the Arizona Strip. The Arizona Strip is a 12,000 square mile area in northern Arizona, north of the Grand Canyon and south of the Utah border.
Pipe Spring National Monument
HC 65 Box 5
Fredonia, Arizona 84755

TELEPHONE: (520) 643-7105

OPERATING HOURS, SEASONS: Pipe Spring National Monument is on Mountain Standard Time all year.

Winter (October through May)
Monument and visitor center open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Winsor Castle tours 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the hour and the half hour.

Summer (May through September)
Monument and visitor center open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Winsor Castle tours 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., on the hour and the half hour.

Closed Christmas Day, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

CLIMATE, RECOMMENDED CLOTHING: Winter: daytime highs around 40° F (4° C), and night time lows near 20° F (-7° C). Occasional snow. Summer: daytime highs around 95° F (35° C) and night time lows near 60° F (16° C). Summer afternoons often bring sudden thundershowers so an umbrella or rain wear could be useful.

DIRECTIONS: Pipe Spring is 14 miles (23km) west of Fredonia, AZ, and 21 miles (34 km) southwest of Kanab, UT. From either, follow US 89A to AZ 389.

Pipe Spring is 44 miles (72 km) east of Hurricane, UT, where UT9 and UT 17 connect with UT 59. From Hurricane, follow UT59 to AZ 389.

Pipe Spring is 181 miles (291 km) east of Las Vegas, NV. Follow I-15 to UT 9 to UT 59 to AZ 389.

The nearest airport is in St. George, Utah, 52 miles (84km).

FEES, COSTS, RATES: Monument entrance fee is $2.00 per person for visitors 17 and older. Visitors 16 and under are admitted free. Golden Eagle, Golden Age and Golden Access Passports are accepted. At Pipe Spring National Monument, a walk-in rather than drive-in park, these passes cover only the card holder and his/her immediate family.


Visitor Center/Exhibits: The Visitor Center offers exhibits on pioneer lifestyle, the development and use of Pipe Spring by American Indian groups and Mormon settlers, and a short video providing an overview of the history of the area. Vehicles must park in the lot at the Visitor Center.

Trails, Roads: Pipe Spring is a walk-in park. From the visitor center, located near the parking lot, to the historic buildings is a 125 yard walk. In addition, there is a ½ mile loop trail offering impressive views of the Arizona Strip, Mt. Trumbull, the Kaibab plateau, and Kanab Creek Canyon.

Lodging and camping facilities: Camping, with full RV hookups and showers, is available ¼ mile north of the Monument at a campground on the Kaibab Paiute Reservation. Contact the Tribal Offices for more information at (520) 643-7245. Lodging is available in Fredonia, AZ (14 miles, 23 km) and Kanab, UT (21 miles, 34 km)

Food/supplies: Food service at the Monument is available at a café operated by the Kaibab Paiute Tribe. Food and gas are available at a gas station/convenience store, operated by the Kaibab Paiute Tribe, ½ mile from the Monument, just off AZ 389. Additional food services and grocery stores are available in Fredonia and Kanab.

Other Concessions/NPS-Managed Visitor Facilities and Opportunities: Zion Natural History Association operates a bookstore and gift shop featuring books on American Indian and pioneer history and American Indian and pioneer crafts.

Under an agreement with Grand Canyon National Park, Pipe Spring can issue last minute back – country permits to a limited number of sites/trails for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon only. Success in obtaining a permit is dependent upon available campsite space. Fees are charged for Grand Canyon back-country permits

Accessibility: The Visitor Center and gift shop are accessible to wheelchairs. An accessible restroom is located near the Visitor Center. Paved sidewalks lead to all the historic structures and the orchard. Interiors of the historic structures are not wheelchair accessible. The Visitor Center is located 100 yards from the historic structures. All visitors must park their vehicles in the parking lot at the Visitor Center. Pets must be leashed while on Monument grounds.

Pipe Spring has three historic buildings open to the public year round. Winsor Castle (the Fort) is accessible only by ranger guided tour. These tours are offered every half hour on the hour and the half hour. The East and West Cabins can be visited by self guided tour. Monument grounds include a garden, orchard, longhorn cattle corral (complete with longhorns), horse corral, other farm livestock and a ½ mile loop trail offering impressive views of the Arizona Strip. These can be visited by self guided tour. During the summer months, ranger guided walks, talks and demonstrations of pioneer lifestyle are offered daily in the cooler morning hours.

Tour and school group reservations can be made by calling (520) 643-7105 at least two weeks prior to the date of intended visit to Pipe Spring.

Allow at least one hour to visit Pipe Spring National Monument leaving ½ hour for the Fort tour and ½ hour to tour the grounds. If you choose to hike the ½ mile loop trail or attend a ranger guided walk, talk or demonstration (summer months only), allow another half hour for your visit. Be aware that Monument livestock can be found freely wandering grounds. These animals are for viewing only. They are not tame, so please use caution and keep a safe distance to ensure your safety. Be aware that there are rattlesnakes and other desert wildlife in the area. Use caution and common sense to guarantee your safety.

Photo Gallery

Natural Bridges

Natural Bridges National Monument

Photo Credit: https://500px.com/photo/7846648/natural-bridges-utah-by-kismetphotos

Only in Natural Bridges National Monument, are natural stream-carved bridges situated in such close proximity. Three of the 10 natural stone bridges in the world are in Natural Bridges National Monument and they are three of the largest! A nine mile loop drive takes visitors past immense Sipapu, massive Kachina, and delicate Owachomo bridges. Trails lead down to each bridge or they may be viewed from overlooks a short distance from parking areas. The loop drive connects pullouts, overlooks and trailheads. Moderate to difficult trails, some with metal stairs or wooden ladders, provide closer access to each bridge. A longer trail follows the stream bed beneath all three bridges.

Natural Bridges National Monument, the first National Park Service unit established in Utah, encompasses 7,636.49 acres. Natural Bridges National Monument is a pinyon and juniper covered mesa that is bisected by deep canyons, exposing the Permian Age Cedar Mesa Sandstone. Where meandering streams cut through sandstone walls, three large natural bridges formed.

At an elevation of 6,500 feet above sea level, Natural Bridges National Monument is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. Plants at Natural Bridges range from the fragile cryptobiotic soil crusts to remnant stands of douglas fir and ponderosa pine. Natural Bridges National Monument includes hanging gardens in moist canyon seep springs, large cottonwoods on the canyon floors, and a wide array of flowering plants in the spring. Animals in Natural Bridges Monument range from a variety of lizards, toads, and an occasional rattlesnake, to peregrine falcons, mountain lions, bobcat and black bear.

These relatively abundant resources in Natural Bridges National Monument made this an ideal home for ancient people as well. Over 200 archaeological sites are known in Natural Bridge National Monument, including cliff dwellings of early Puebloan people, mesa top habitations, and remnants of corrals left by more recent cowboys.

Natural Bridges National Monument is 42 miles west of Blanding. The visitor center and primitive campground are open year-round. Natural Bridges facilities are solar powered and the large solar array is accessible to visitors.


Natural Bridges National Monument is located adjacent to Utah Highway 95 about forty miles west of Blanding. Its chief attractions are three immense water-carved natural bridges through necks and ridges of rock. They are Sipapu Natural Bridge, 220 feet in height and spanning 268 feet; Kachina Bridge, 210 feet high, with a span of 206 feet; and Owachomo Natural Bridge, 106 feet high, with a span of 180 feet.

A paved loop road circles the three bridges; from the road short trails extend to each of the bridges. Visitors may also walk a nine-mile circular trail, which for many years was the only access route. A National Park Service visitors center now offers information, maps, and souvenirs. The elevation at the visitors center is 6,505 feet.

Also found within the deep canyons are a number of small prehistoric cliff dwellings and storage rooms built by the Anasazi and then abandoned around A.D. 1100. When first visited by white men during the early 1880s, the land was sparsely occupied by Ute Indians. Cass Hite, a prospector who wandered into the area in 1883, was the first non-Indian to report the existence of what he termed “three whoppin’ natural bridges.”

Beginning about 1900, the bridges were often visited and popularized by authors, photographers, and painters who were guided into the canyons by local ranchers. In 1904 the National Geographic magazine sponsored an expedition to the area. By 1908 the bridges were sufficiently well-known for President Theodore Roosevelt to set aside the area as a national monument. The first dirt road was extended to the monument in 1928. Zeke Johnson, a well-liked canyon country guide and famous story teller, was monument superintendent in the 1940s.

The visitors center features a solar-power generating system that was designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was the world’s largest at the time of its inauguration in 1980.

W.L. Rusho

Park Information

LOCATION: San Juan County, Utah
Natural Bridges National Monument
P.O. Box 1
Lake Powell, UT 84533

(435) 692-1234

OPERATING HOURS, SEASONS: The Monument is open every day of the year. The nine mile scenic drive is open every day from early morning until about 30 minutes past sunset.

Summer: highs 85 to 95 degrees, lows 50 to 60 degrees, thunderstorms possible.
Fall: highs, 60 to 75 degrees, lows 40 to 50 degrees, usually mild, snow late fall.
Winter: highs 40 to 50 degrees, lows 0 to 30 degrees, snow likely.
Spring: highs 50 to 70 degrees, lows 20 to 40 degrees, usually mild, snow possible until May.

Clothing needs can be varied throughout the year. Mild winter days may make hiking in light clothing possible, but below zero temperatures are not unusual in the winter. Rain is a possibility at any time, but especially in spring and late summer, so rain gear is recommended.

From the north/east: take Highway 191 to Blanding, Utah. Travel west 35 miles on Utah Highway 95, then north 4 miles on Utah Highway 275, which ends at the Monument.
From the north/west: take Highway 95 east from Hanksville, Utah, 93 miles to Highway 275, then 4 miles north to the Monument.
From the south: take Highway 163 to Mexican Hat, Utah. Travel north on Highway 261, 38 miles to Highway 95. Turn west on Highway 95, proceed 1.5 miles to Highway 275, then north 4 miles to the Monument.

TRANSPORTATION: There is no public transportation to or from Natural Bridges. Commercial air service is available to Moab, Utah; Cortez, Durango, and Grand Junction, Colorado; Farmington, New Mexico; and Flagstaff, Arizona. Bus service is available in Durango, Colorado; Flagstaff, Arizona; and Grand Junction, Colorado. Amtrak serves Green River, Utah, located about 175 miles from Natural Bridges, but there is no connecting public transportation from the train station.

FEES, COSTS, RATES: $6.00 per vehicle and $3.00 per individual. Golden Eagle, Age, and Access passes accepted and available. Annual passes for Natural Bridges, Canyonlands, Arches and Hovenweep are accepted and available for $25.00.


Visitor Center/Exhibits: Visitor center has exhibits, an audiovisual program, books, maps and videos for sale. Rangers are on duty to answer questions and collect entry fees. Informal interpretive programs may be given on the patio during peak season. Rest rooms and water are available 24 hours a day.

Trails, Roads: The nine mile long Bridge View Drive is a one-way scenic loop starting and ending near the visitor center. Overlooks for each of the three bridges and one cliff dwelling are reached by short walks from parking areas along the drive. A trailhead for each bridge is also located along the drive, as is a small picnic area. The road is plowed in the winter.

An 8.2 mile loop trail connects all three bridges. It follows the canyon bottom stream for most of its length, then exits the canyon and returns via the relatively flat mesa top. Hiking time varies from four to six hours. The 8.2 mile loop can be split into two shorter loops, each taking in two of the three bridges. Each requires three to four hours, and ranges from five to six miles in length, depending on the loop taken.

Hikers with less time may simply hike one of the short trails down to a bridge and back to the trail head.

Round trip mileage’s are:
Sipapu: 1.2 miles, 500 foot elevation change, 1 hour
Kachina: 1.5 miles, 400 foot elevation change, 1.25 hours
Owachomo: .4 miles 180 foot elevation change, .5 hours
Horsecollar Ruin: A .6 mile round trip trail leads from a trailhead on the Bridge View Drive to an overlook of Horsecollar Ruin, an early Puebloan site. The hike is relatively flat and takes about 30 minutes.

Lodging and camping facilities: There is no lodging in the park. Lodging is available in Fry Canyon, Blanding, Bluff, Mexican Hat, and Monticello, Utah. Contact the San Juan County Travel Council at 1-800-574-4386 for further information on lodging, dining, and area attractions.

The Monuments 13 site campground is open year-round, but it is not cleared of snow in the winter. The fee is $10 per night. No reservations are accepted and there is no group site available. Wood fires are permitted, but no wood gathering is allowed inside the Monument. Vehicles over 26 feet long are not allowed in the campground. All sites fill by early afternoon from early March through late October. Rangers at the visitor center can give directions to nearby alternative camping areas.

Food/supplies: None are available at the Monument.

Accessibility: The visitor center and rest rooms are accessible to all persons. The campground has no designated site for disabled persons but has several sites and one rest room accessible. The three bridge overlook trails are accessible via a concrete sidewalk, however the sidewalk to the Kachina Bridge viewpoint may not be accessible with a standard wheelchair, due to its slope.

RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES/PARK USE: Spring, summer and fall: evening ranger programs may be presented in the campground amphitheater, one or more nights each week with varying schedules and topics. Guided walks and visitor center patio talks may be offered. Winter: due to limited staffing and visitation, no special programs are presented during the winter months. A ten minute video program is shown at the visitor center throughout the year.

A Junior Ranger Program is available, with an eight page Kids Newspaper full of stories, puzzles, games, and activities. Badges are awarded to children who finish the required number of activities for their age group.
BASIC VISIT RECOMMENDATIONS: Plan to spend at least two to three hours to see the bridges and hike to at least one. Bring all required food, gasoline, and other supplies with you, as none is available at the Monument. Pets and bikes are not permitted on any trail or off-road area. Plan accordingly. Arrive by noon to claim a campsite for the night.


Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument Is unique towers grouped in six well preserved ruin villages, remind many visitors of European castles. Interestingly, these ancient structures straddling the Utah-Colorado border were built about the same time as medieval fortresses. The largest and most accessible of the Hovenweep ruins is Square Tower, where several structures are located.

Hovenweep National Monument protects some of the finest examples of ancient stone architecture in the southwest. The inhabitants of Hovenweep National Monument were part of the large farming culture which occupied the Four Corners region of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona from about 500 B.C. until nearly A.D. 1300. These peoples that inhabited Hovenweep National Monument also constructed the cliff dwellings in nearby Mesa Verde National Park. The Hovenweep National Monument is noted for its solitude, clear skies and undeveloped, natural character.

There is a system of loop trails at the Square Tower Unit and ranger-guided tours throughout the day. Hovenweep National Monument is 20 miles north of Aneth via a paved road. There is a 30-site campground and a new visitor center.


Located astride the southeastern Utah/southwestern Colorado border, Hovenweep National Monument is comprised of six ruin clusters–four in Colorado, two in Utah–all of which are perched on the canyon rims and along the drainage of the area. The name, derived from the Ute language and meaning “deserted valley,” was first used when William H. Jackson visited the site in 1874.

Anasazi occupation started between A.D. 250-450 (Basketmaker II) and continued to around A.D. 1300 (Pueblo III). The people of Hovenweep were culturally similar to those living at Mesa Verde; they adopted a corn, beans, and squash-based agriculture; constructed square, oval, circular, and D-shaped towers; manufactured and traded related pottery types; and built kivas and houses of identical construction. The earliest agricultural activities centered on the mesa tops where the Anasazi employed dry farming techniques. Starting in the early 1200s, the use of canyon bottoms, springs, and seeps became prevalent, suggesting a shift to more permanent water sources.

The most prominent feature of Hovenweep is its towers, which are divided into two general types. The first type is the isolated tower located on boulders or mesa edges, often found in pairs, and lighted by portholes and small windows. The second consists of integrated towers associated with room blocks or kiva clusters. Archaeologists disagree about the use of these buildings, variously suggesting that they possibly served as lookouts, signal towers, defense posts, celestial observatories, granaries, habitations, and/or ceremonial structures. Recent studies have shown that at least three ruins have small windows or portholes that align with the solstices and equinoxes. Another study showed that each tower could be seen by at least two other towers or ruins, which suggests that they might have served as signal stations, although many of the structures appear to have had a variety of functions. Most were built around A.D. 1230, just seventy years before the general Anasazi abandonment of the Four Corners region.

Robert S. McPherson

Park Information

VISITATION: Annual visitation is 28,000.

LOCATION: Hovenweep National Monument is located in southeastern Utah, just north and west of Cortez, Colorado.
Hovenweep National Monument
McElmo Route
Cortez, CO 81321 (US Mail)

(970) 749-0510 (Cellular)
(435) 459-4344 (within Utah)

OPERATING HOURS, SEASONS: Hovenweep is open year-round. The Ranger Station is open from 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., seven days a week. The Ranger Station is closed winter holidays.

CLIMATE, RECOMMENDED CLOTHING: Summer highs may exceed 100 Degrees Fahrenheit, with lows in the 60’s. Fall and Spring temperatures are milder, with highs in the 70’s and 80’s. Winter temperatures range from highs in the 40’s and 50’s to lows well below freezing. Snow is usually light to moderate. Biting Pinon Gnats are common in late May.

From Cortez, Colorado: Travel on US Highway 160 south 4 miles, then head west on County Road “G” (airport roadway) 41 miles (one hour travel time).

From Blanding or Bluff, Utah: Turn east off of US Highway 191 on Utah State 262 to the Hatch Trading Post. Follow the Hovenweep signs 16 additional miles (one hour travel time).

TRANSPORTATION: No commercial transportation is available. Most visitors arrive by private vehicle. Visitors are advised to call for road conditions during winter and stormy weather. Utah travel information is available from the Utah Travel Council.

FEES, COSTS, RATES: $6.00 per passenger vehicle or $3.00 per person. Commercial fees are collected. Please call for more information.


Ranger Station: The ranger station contains limited exhibits and educational information for visitors. There is a bookstore specializing in materials on the culture and natural history of the area. A video is available for those not able to take the walking tour of the sites. Picnic tables are available at the Ranger Station Area. Due to the high cost of garbage removal, visitors are required to pack out their own garbage.

Trails: Hiking trails are available at each of the cultural sites and walking tours are possible with self-guiding trail guides. Special tours are also lead by the park staff (inquire at the ranger station). The trail system at Hovenweep is primitive and lightly maintained. Trails range in length from a 1/2 mile loop to an 8 mile route that connects two of the site groups.Two trails originate at the Ranger station and offer visitors the opportunity to view nearby archeological sites: one is a two mile trail that takes about 1.5 hours and has an elevation change of 150 feet; the second trail is shorter and easier. Contact the monument or ask at the ranger station for more information. Hiking is limited to established trails only

Services and Supplies: There are no services at Hovenweep. Information on restaurants, lodging and other visitor needs is available from the Mesa Verde Country Web Site. Gasoline and limited grocery items are available in most of the towns near Hovenweep.

Photography: Hovenweep is a paradise for photographers. The rich colors of the sandstone glow in the crisp sunlight against a sky so blue it seems almost unreal. The buildings cling to the canyon rims, offering themselves for close-ups or cross-canyon shots that will reward even the most amateur picture-taker. And the night sky at Hovenweep is a treasure all its own, with air so clear and free of light-pollution that the Milky Way stretches from horizon to horizon in a jeweled rainbow, a spectacle seen only at a few select places on the planet.

Camping: There is a small campground near the ranger station which is open seasonally on a first-come, first-served basis. The sites are designed for tent camping, though a few sites will accommodate RV’s 25 feet or less in length. The fee is $10.00 per night. Flush toilets and running water are available.

Accessibility: The Ranger Station and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. Trails are uneven and primitive. Some trails can be negotiated with assistance and rough terrain chairs.

Spring and fall are the most ideal seasons to visit. Plan at least 1 or 2 hours to visit the Ranger Station and Square Tower Group area trails and archeological sites.

Grand Staircase

Grand Staircase

Welcome to Grand Staircase National Monument. In September of 1996, Grand Staircase National Monument was created, which at 1.7 million acres, dominates any map of southern Utah. It is unique in that it is the first monument to be adminstered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), rather than the National Park Service.

Grand Staircase National Monument is a geologic sampler, with a huge variety of formations, features and world-class paleontological sites. President Clinton’s proclamation said, “The…Monument’s vast and austere landscape embraces a spectacular array of scientific and historic resources. This high, rugged, and remote region, where bold plateaus and multi-hued cliffs run for distances that defy human perspective, was the last place in the continental United States to be mapped.”

The Grand Staircase National Monument is a geological formation spanning eons of time. There are three major sections in the Grand Staircase which include the Escalante Canyons, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Paria River. Any one of these sections in the Grand Staircase taken alone is larger than most national parks. The gateway cities for the Grand Staircase National Monument are Escalante, Boulder, and Kanab. For more Grand Staircase information be sure to get a Grand Circle Travel Packet!

While you are visiting the Grand Staircase, take some time to look at the diversity of animals and wildlife.

Photo Gallery


Dinosaur National Monument

Welcome to Dinosaur National Monument. The largest quarry of Jurassic Period dinosaur bones ever discovered is the source of the 200,000 acre Dinosaur National Monument’s name. Dinosaur National Monument had its beginnings In 1909, twenty miles east of Vernal, when paleontologist Earl Douglass discovered a 200-foot long sandbar of sorts which was layered with prehistoric plant and animal fossils. About 350 million tons of fossils, including full skeletons and remains of some dinosaur species that were previously unknown, were excavated at Dinosaur National Monument by Douglass and his crew.

Today, a year-round visitor center built over the quarry protects over 2,000 dinosaur bones left exposed in the sandstone wall at Dinosaur National Monument. Beyond the quarry, Dinosaur National Monument stretches east into Colorado. In both the Utah and Colorado portions of Dinosaur National Monument, there are mapped hikes through mountains, plateaus, deserts, scenic drives, and the whitewater thrills of the Green and Yampa Rivers.


The quarry site at what is now Dinosaur National Monument was discovered in 1909 by Earl Douglass, a paleontologist from the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Douglass, whose specialty was fossil mammals, had been working in the Uinta Basin of northeastern Utah since 1907, collecting 40- million-year-old mammal fossils from the Eocene Uinta Formation. In hopes of finding dinosaur skeletons for display at the Carnegie Museum, Douglass was sent north by museum director Dr. W.J. Holland to the flanks of the Uinta Mountains, where uplift had exposed rocks from the age of dinosaurs. Among the layers of rocks exposed here is a rock unit or formation known as the.

The Morrison Formation originated approximately 150 million years ago as floodplain deposits. It was widespread, covering the area that is now Colorado, Wyoming, eastern Utah, northern New Mexico, parts of Montana and South Dakota, and the panhandle of Oklahoma. These sediments were deposited under conditions favorable for the burial and preservation of skeletal remains. Most of the Jurassic-age dinosaurs known from North America come from the Morrison Formation. This rock unit is named after Morrison, Colorado, a small town west of Denver where the first major discovery of Morrison dinosaurs was made in 1877.

The “dinosaur rush” that followed was fueled by a rivalry between E.D. Cope of Philadelphia and O.C. Marsh from Yale University, two famous paleontologists who competed to discover and name the most dinosaurs. Numerous sites, mostly in Colorado (Morrison, Canon City) and Wyoming (Como Bluff, Bone Cabin Quarry, Howe Quarry) yielded abundant remains of Jurassic dinosaurs during the closing decades of the nineteenth century. Utah, however, remained out of the picture, until Douglass’ fateful discovery in August of 1909. Along a hogback (a ridge formed from steeply tilted strata) near Split Mountain, Douglass found a series of eight large vertebrae (backbones) weathering out of a resistant sandstone layer of Morrison Formation. These vertebrae were from the tail of the sauropod dinosaur Apatosaurus, and would prove to be part one of the most complete skeletons of Apatosaurus ever discovered. More importantly, this site would also prove to be probably the most prolific dinosaur quarry of the Morrison Formation.

Douglass conducted excavations at the site, known as the Carnegie Quarry, for about the next fifteen years. Most of these collections were made for the Carnegie Museum, but the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Utah also received material from the site. Dynamite was often needed to blast through the overlying rock layers, and over 350 tons of fossil material was shipped back to the Carnegie Museum. Among the important specimens collected during this period are a number of nearly complete skeletons, including those on display at the Carnegie Museum. The juvenile Camarasaurus is the most complete sauropod ever found. A cast of this spectacular specimen has been returned to Dinosaur National Monument to be exhibited at the Quarry Visitor Center.

The dinosaurs that have been excavated from the site include the plant-eating sauropods Apatosaurus (also known as Brontosaurus), Camarasaurus, Diplodocus, and Barosaurus; the meat-eating theropods Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Torvosaurus; and the plant-eating ornithischians Camptosaurus, Dryosaurus, and Stegosaurus. In addition to the dinosaurs, the quarry has yielded the remains of two kinds of crocodiles, two kinds of turtles, a frog, freshwater clams (Unio), and fossil plant material.

The quarry site was declared a National Monument in 1915. During the 1930’s, a WPA (Works Progress Administration) project expanded the quarry face, but no new fossils were exposed or excavated. The monument boundaries were expanded in 1938 from the original 80-acre tract surrounding the dinosaur quarry in Utah, to its present extent of over 200,000 acres in Utah and Colorado, encompassing the spectacular canyons of the Green and Yampa Rivers. In addition to its dinosaurs, the National Park Service manages and protects a variety of other natural and cultural resources within these expanded boundaries.

The Yampa River is the last major tributary of the entire Upper Colorado River Drainage that has not been dammed, and the river system is home to a number of endangered fish species, including the Colorado squawfish and humpback chub. For visitors to the monument, only the dinosaur quarry itself exceeds whitewater rafting in popularity. the scenery, geology, and the plants and animals that make up the natural environment or ecosystem, are also important resources.

Paleontological resources are not restricted to the quarry site. Other Morrison Formation sites have yielded the remains of a variety of plants and animals, including frogs, salamanders, and mammals and have given scientists a better picture of the total Morrison ecosystem. Fossils have been found in many of the other formations exposed in the monument as well. Cultural resources include Paleo-Indian sites that indicate the area was inhabited as early as 7,000 B.C. Abundant rock art and other archaeological sites are derived from the Fremont Indians, who inhabited the area approximately 1,000 years ago. Historic sites include the Ruple Ranch in Island Park, the Josie Morris Cabin near the dinosaur quarry, and Pool Ranch in Echo Park.

In 1953 Dr. Theodore “Doc” White was hired as Dinosaur National Monument’s first paleontologist. With his staff of fossil preparators, the permanent quarry exhibit that visitors see today was created. The visitors center, completed in 1958, was built with the quarry face as one wall. Nearly 2,000 bones are exposed in place on the quarry face inside the visitors center. In addition to enclosing the dinosaur quarry, the visitor center also houses a preparation laboratory, research facilities, a bookstore, and additional exhibits about the monument and its dinosaurs.

Current park paleontologist Dan Chure has directed the monument’s scientific programs since 1979. For more than twenty years, fossil preparators Jim Adams and Tobe Wilkins were almost as permanent a part of the quarry exhibit as the dinosaurs themselves as they worked to expose the fossil bones in place. During this period the only specimens to be removed from the quarry were those whose scientific importance warranted detailed examination, such as the baby Stegosaurus bones excavated in 1977. In recent years the focus of work has moved away from the cliff face and turned to other sites in the monument. Preparators may be seen on the cliff face during the busy summer months, but more often their work involves excavation and preparation of material from other Morrison sites. These may be other dinosaur sites, yielding important data not found at the main quarry, such as the recent discovery of an embryonic Camptosaurus; however, at least as important are new discoveries of other taxa such as frogs, salamanders, mammals, and plant fossils that give scientists a better understanding of the total Morrison ecosystem.

Martha Hayden

Park Information

VISITATION: Most people visit the monument in June, July, and August. One of the charms of Dinosaur National Monument is its uncrowded and easy going atmosphere. The best weather is in September and early October.

LOCATION: Dinosaur National Monument is located in northwest Colorado and northeast Utah, straddling the border of these states. About two-thirds of the park is in Colorado. Dinosaur is 210,000 acres in size; plenty of room for you to find solitude, magnificent scenery, hike a wild landscape, and renew your relationship with nature.
4545 E. Highway 40
Dinosaur, CO 81610-9724

OPERATING HOURS: Open 24 hours a day, year-round
Headquarters Visitor Center: Open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and is closed on federal holidays during fall, winter, and spring months. Open 8 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on weekends during summer.
Trails, auto tours, campgrounds, and backcountry areas are open all the time except when limited by weather conditions.

CLIMATE & RECOMMENDED CLOTHING: Dinosaur’s climate is semiarid. In the summer it is hot (95 degrees), but the evenings are cool (lower 50s). During the summer, occasional afternoon thunderstorms occur. Elevations within the park vary between 4500 and 9000 feet. Thus, a hot summer day can be pleasantly cool at Harpers Corner, which is at a higher elevation. During winter, most moisture falls as snow and temperatures are often cold.
The arid, often hot summer climate means you should always carry and drink water. During summer it is wise to wear broad-brimmed hat and carry sun screen.

Visitors should wear clothing appropriate for the season and activity in which they are participating. A good strategy is to wear clothing in layers. Suitable footwear for hiking in rough terrain is important.

DIRECTIONS: Locate and travel to U.S. Highway 40.
Monument Headquarters and Visitor Center is 1 mile east of Dinosaur, Colorado, just off US 40. This is the center for information on the canyon country of the park. There are no dinosaur bones in this area.

TRANSPORTATION: There are no transportation services to the park such as a taxi or bus. You must have your own transportation. For private river runners vehicle and passenger shuttle service is available from Wilkins Bus lines (435) 789-2476 and River Runners Transport (435) 781-1120.

FEES, COSTS & RATES: The park entrance fee is $10.00 per vehicle. Special fees for commercial tours and buses apply. Phone (435) 789-8277 for an educational group entrance fee waiver or more detailed information.

Camping fees vary depending on the season and facilities. Be prepared to pay from $6.00 to $12.00 per night. Rates for the reservation-only group campsites at Split Mountain group campground are higher. For more information on campgrounds see the Camping Facilities section.

Fees and noncommercial river permits are required for private white water river trips on the Green and Yampa rivers within the park. For information on fees, equipment and experience requirements, and how to apply for the permit lottery, call (970) 374-2468.

Visitor Center/Exhibits: Headquarters Visitor Center contains exhibits on what to do, river canyons, and human history of the park. There is a 10-minute orientation slide program and book store.

Trails, Roads: Desert Voices Nature Trail is near the Dinosaur Quarry. It is 1 1/2 miles long and is moderately difficult. The trail is an introduction to issues and management of Dinosaur N.M. and has trail signs for kids, written and illustrated by kids.

Sound of Silence Route is near the Dinosaur Quarry. It is 3 miles long and difficult to hike. You will learn to find low impact hiking routes in the backcountry and how to hike safely. This is a great route to experience silence.

Cold Desert Trail located at Monument Headquarters. It is 1/2 mile long and an easy walk. The trail is an introduction to flora and fauna of the desert shrub community.

Plug Hat Trail is along the Harpers Corner Road. It is 1/4 mile in length and an easy walk. The trail is an introduction to flora and fauna of the pinion and juniper forest community and offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.

Harpers Corner Trail is at the end of Harpers Corner Road. It is 1 1/2 miles in length and moderately difficult. The trail is an introduction to dramatic geologic features and leads to breathtaking views of the canyons of the Green and Yampa rivers.

Gates of Lodore Trail is at the end of the campground road at the Gates of Lodore. It is 1 mile in length and an easy walk. The trail offers spectacular views of the river gorge and introduces you to some of the plants and geology of the area.

Lodging and camping facilities: There is no lodging in Dinosaur National Monument. There is, however, camping. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Green River Campground ($12 per night) usually does not fill up during the summer. Limit of stay is 14 days. Vehicles or trailers in excess of 35 feet are prohibited. No RV hookups. Water is turned off in the fall to prevent freeze-up and is turned on in the spring. When water is not available, a camping fee is not charged. Green River Campground has one wheelchair accessible site.

Groups can reserve a group campsite at the Split Mountain Group Campground in the spring and summer months. The group campground contains four sites, water, and modern restrooms. Sites are available only by reservation (fee required). Phone (435) 789-8277 for information and to make a reservation.

Food/supplies: No food, beverage or other supplies are available within the monument. Full services are available in Vernal, Utah and Craig and Rangely, Colorado. Limited supplies and services are available in Dinosaur, Browns Park and Maybell, Colorado, and Jensen, Utah.

Other Concessions/NPS-Managed Visitor Facilities and Opportunities:
The nonprofit Dinosaur Nature Association operates bookstores at Monument Headquarters. To order materials or a catalog phone (800) 845-DINO. We recommend you review the following information before you visit:

Park approved commercial river concessionaires provide one day and multi-day white water river trips down the Green and Yampa rivers. River trips are one of the best ways to experience the monument.

Accessibility: The Monument Headquarters Visitor Center is fully accessible. Primitive accessible toilet facilities are available at Lodore Campground and at the end of Harpers Corner Road. A fully accessible campsite is located at Green River Campground. There is an accessible trail at the Plug Hat picnic area.

RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES & PARK USE: The resources of Dinosaur are so varied and numerous that there is something here to interest and surprise almost anyone. Activities range from bird watching, photography, sightseeing and fishing to general sloth and lollygagging; from sight seeing by car to walking, backpacking, and white water river running.
For commercial concession river trips: Reservations are strongly recommended, walk-ins for day trips are often available.

The following activities require a permit:

Private noncommercial river permit phone (970) 374-2468.
Backcountry camping and horse packing permit phone (970) 374-3000.
Research collecting permit phone (970) 374-3000.
Special events permit phone (970) 374-3000.
Commercial photography or filming permit phone (435) 789-2115 ex 4002.
Commercial activity permit phone (970) 374-3019.
On arrival at Dinosaur you will be disappointed if you do not allow a full day to a week for your visit. Drive the Tour of the Tilted Rocks auto tour which begins near the Quarry. The drive takes 1 to 2 hours and will allow you to begin to appreciate the beauty of the park. To see rugged and spectacular canyon landscapes drive the Journey Through Time auto tour which begins at Monument Headquarters and takes 2 to 4 hours to complete.

Explore for hidden surprises in the Deerlodge area. After the middle of July, the Deerlodge Campground is one of the quietest places in the park. Angling for catfish, visiting the many historic cabins in the area, and hiking into Disappointment Draw are activities to soothe the soul.

Become absorbed by the alternating sun and shadow, calm and wind of Steamboat Rock in Echo Park. Ponder the ancients or a fat trout in Jones Hole. Adventure out the mysteries and unsurpassed views of the primitive Yampa Bench Road.

Spend the night at the Gates of Lodore Campground in Browns Park, a quiet, little-used campground. Lodore and Browns Park are remote areas, often overlooked by visitors. The imposing red, vertical rocks of Lodore Canyon loom on the horizon of the gentle Browns Park valley. Tucked away aloof, and hidden, are petroglyphs, historic copper mine coke ovens, an historic cemetery, a swinging bridge over Green River, Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge, and the reconstructed historic Jarvie Ranch which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Jones Hole canyon, originally cleft by a geologic fault, is today caressed by a crystal clear, spring-fed creek. A well placed artificial lure or fly could bring a battle (special fishing regulations apply and a Utah license is required). Jones Hole is one of the prettiest spots in the park. A fish hatchery, petroglyphs, waterfall and more await. This is a great place for a family to spend the day.


When you are in the backcountry you are on your own, and that requires some skill and thoughtful planning. Backcountry camping requires a permit, which can be obtained at any park ranger station. Much of the terrain in Dinosaur is rugged. Sandstone breaks easily, and the sand grains can act like ball bearings under boots. Watch your step near cliff edges.

SELECT A CAMPSITE: We like to imagine ourselves traveling through virgin country, and the sight of an obviously used camp destroys that vision. Tent trenches, fire scars on boulders, fire circles, and litter are some of the ways a campsite becomes ghetto-like. Don’t contribute to the problem. Select a campsite well away from developed areas, at least 1/4 mile from roads or cultural sites. During the summer camping in the inner river canyons is restricted. All of the Cub Creek area, and all of Jones Hole Creek except the established site at Ely Creek, are closed to camping.

WATER: Use biodegradable soap, and use it away from water sources. With the exception of the Green and Yampa rivers, never bathe or wash clothes or dishes in a water source. Carry at least 1 gallon of water per person per day in the summer. Water is scarce in some areas of the park. All untreated water should be considered polluted by the microscopic organism Giardia, which causes diarrhea, cramps, and other unpleasant symptoms. The most certain method to treat water is to boil it for 3 to 5 minutes. Chemical disinfectants are not considered effective. Filtering systems must remove particles as small as one micron in diameter to be effective.

WASTE: If you carry it in, carry it out, including cigarette butts and organic material. Apple cores and orange peels do not add anything to the desert environment, they attract skunks and insects, and make wildlife into pests. Eating and food preparation areas are particular concern. Pick up and properly dispose of all scraps you have dropped. Pack out litter that inconsiderate other visitors have left
Human waste decomposes very slowly in the desert and is a major cause of waterborne diseases. In areas without toilets, bury human waste by digging a 6-inch deep hole at least 300 feet from water and frequently used areas. Carry out your toilet paper in ziploc bags. Animals and erosion soon expose toilet paper, giving some areas a toilet-paper-bloom appearance. Burning toilet paper has started wildfires–Do Not Burn It.

FIRE: The remains of fires last for many years. River campgrounds have received enough abuse to require river runners to use fire pans and carry out charcoal. Indeed, firewood gathering and campfires are restricted in some areas at some times. If you build a fire, collect only down and dead wood. Build a small fire, and locate it away from burnable material. Never leave a fire unattended. Trees grow extremely slowly here, and in some areas use has exceeded the available down wood. Jones Hole and Ely Creek are examples of this. For that reason fires are prohibited at the Ely Creek Campsite. Fire charcoal is unsightly. Carry out the residue of your fire to leave your site as if no one had ever camped there.

PETS: Pets can harass wildlife, bite or disturb other visitors, and contribute to the degradation of the backcountry. Pets are not allowed in the backcountry of Dinosaur.

ATTITUDE: We have reports of well-meaning visitors killing snakes near camp. A look at heavily used sites will disclose branches broken from trees and shrubs for fires. Damage and vandalism to archaeological sites and rock art panels continue. Fish entrails and orange peels are common in some places. Some trails show the mark or erosion from heavy use and short cutting switchbacks. How can we reduce or eliminate such impacts? Proper care of the backcountry starts with attitude. Treat the backcountry with respect. Let us know ways you discover to reduce impacts on the park. Perhaps if we follow these rules we can preserve the backcountry in a pristine manner without undue additional regulation.


What? Where? How? Why?

Who wants to know about dinosaurs? Everyone does–especially kids! And Dinosaur National Monument is a great place to learn about dinosaurs:

Q: What kinds of dinosaurs have you found at Dinosaur National Monument?
A: We’ve found Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Camarasaurus, Barosaurus, Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Stegosaurus, Camptosaurus and Dryosaurus.

Q: Why don’t you have Tyrannosaurus Rex?
A: T-rex lived during a different time, during the Cretaceous Period, millions of years after our dinosaurs. Our dinosaurs are almost twice as old!

Q: How many dinosaur bones have you found?
A: At 34 tons, Apatosaurus is the heaviest. Diplodocus is the longest at 85 ft.

Q: How many dinosaur bones have you found?
A: You can see over 1,600 individual bones in the Dinosaur Quarry, but we’ve found hundreds more, as well as several complete skeletons which are on exhibit in museums around the country.

Q: Where did you find the bones?
A: In a place where a river buried the dinosaurs with sand and mud after they died. This burial is what helped preserve the bones as fossils.

Q: Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?
A: We are still not sure. Some scientists think the dinosaurs may have died out because of a large asteroid that hit the earth causing a dusty cloud that blocked out the sun for months. Without enough sunlight a lot of plants and animals-including all the dinosaurs–died.

Q: Are there any dinosaurs living today
A: No, but birds may be related to them. Look closely at a bird foot or footprint and compare it to one from a dinosaur like Allosaurus.

Dinosaurs of a Different Color: No one knows what color dinosaurs were; fossils do not tell us about color of a dinosaur’s skin. We do know that animals living today have colors and patterns that help them hide, attract mates, or warn other animals to stay away. Some have spots, stripes and even bright colors. It is likely that dinosaurs had some bright colors and patterns too. Allosaurus was a large meat-eating dinosaur that once lived here.

Baby Dinosaurs: Fossils from baby dinosaurs are not found very often. Their bones were small and easily broken up. A few have been discovered here at Dinosaur National Monument, however, including a young Stegosaurus the size of a large dog. We have also found bones of a baby Diplodocus which can still be seen on the Quarry wall. Not long ago the tiny skeleton of a Camptosaurus was carefully uncovered. Its small size indicates that this little dinosaur was still inside the egg when it was fossilized. This Camptosaurus embryo, which as an adult could have grown up to 50 feet long, was small enough to fit in the palm of your hand!

Teeth Tell the Tale: The best way to know what a dinosaur ate is from looking at its teeth. Meat-eaters had sharp teeth for cutting and tearing flesh. Plant-eaters needed teeth that could nip off tough leaves and branches.

Living in an Ecosystem: Dinosaurs were just one member of something called an ecosystem that existed 150 million years ago. An ecosystem is an area made up of plants and animals, as well as non-living parts such as sun, soil, and water. Think about the ecosystem you live in. What does it include?

You might have thought of trees, rivers, insects, flowers, rocks, birds or many other things. These are what make up the ecosystem you depend on to live.

A Dinosaur Ecosystem: Dinosaurs were part of an ecosystem that is now extinct-that means it no longer exists. Ecosystems can change over time, and the one the dinosaurs lived in is gone. Fortunately, pieces of that ecosystem, called fossils, are buried in the rocks along with dinosaur bones. Paleontologists at Dinosaur National Monument look for these fossils to learn more about the world the dinosaurs lived in. So far, they have found the remains of frogs, turtles, salamanders, mammals, fish, trees, ferns, snails, and clams- as well as dinosaurs. From these clues, we think the ecosystem of this area was flat, dry and warm, with a wide river winding across the land. One of the reasons we try and learn more about the dinosaurs and how they lived is because the better we understand ecosystems of the past, the better we understand our own ecosystem.

The Web of Life: Animals and plants in an ecosystem help support each other by providing what each needs to live. This is called the web of life. It means all things are connected-just like the strands of a spiders web. Light from the sun and minerals from the soil enable plants to make food. Plants are food for plant-eating animals, and plant-eaters are food for meat-eaters. Some animals eat both plants and meat.

Taking Care of Barosaurus: Did you know that even dinosaurs need protection? That’s right, mighty Barosaurus needs your help! One way that you and your family are helping to protect the dinosaurs is through national parks like Dinosaur National Monument. Part of our job is to take care of the bones and other fossils which are found here so we can learn everything we can from them. That’s why visitors are not allowed to collect a fossil if they find one. Fossils are also protected by law so kids like you can see them-right here-right where the dinosaurs lived!

How to Find Out More: The Dinosaur Nature Association sells books, posters and videos about dinosaurs at the visitors center in DInosaur National Monument. For a free catalog listing informational products on dinosaurs and other resources of the monument, write to the Dinosaur Nature Association at 1291 E. Highway 40, Vernal, Ut 84078, or phone toll-free, 1-800-845-DINO.

Rock Art

As you travel around the Colorado Plateau, you have a great opportunity to discover and learn about the ancient cultures of the region. In the Dinosaur National Monument area, you will find evidence of a group of Native Americans we call the Fremont people, who lived here about 1,000 years ago. The Fremont were not the only early dwellers here; archaeological evidence indicates human occupancy as far back as 8,000 years ago. However, it was the Fremont who left the most visible reminders of their presence, in the form of their rock art.

Fremont rock art includes both pictographs (designs created by applying pigment to the rock surface) and petroglyphs (designs chipped or carved into the rock). Pictographs are relatively rare here, perhaps because they are more easily weathered. Most of the rock art in the monument is in the form of petroglyphs, usually found on smooth sandstone cliffs darkened by desert varnish (a naturally-formed stain of iron and manganese oxides).

The style and content of Fremont rock art vary throughout the region. In the Uinta Basin, in which most of Dinosaur National Monument lies, the “Classic Vernal Style” predominates. It is characterized by well-executed anthropomorphous (human-like figures), zoomorphs (animal-like figures), and abstract designs. The anthropomorphs typically have trapezoidal bodies, which may or may not include arms, legs, fingers, and toes. They are often elaborately decorated with designs suggesting headdresses, earrings, and necklaces, and they may hold shields or other objects. The zoomorphs include recognizable bighorn sheep, birds, snakes, and lizards, as well as more abstract animal-like shapes. Purely abstract or geometric designs, such as circles, spirals, and various combinations of lines, are common.

Among petroglyphs, most designs are outlines, but some are completely pecked to form solid figures, and a few consist of small holes in closely-spaced rows. Some petroglyphs show traces of pigment, and it its possible that many designs originally included both carved and painted areas.

Why did the Fremont create this rock art, and what did it mean? The designs may have served some ceremonial or religious purpose, been related to hunting activities, identified clans, or simply have been artistic expression-or perhaps all or none of these. Some people have attempted to interpret the rock art by comparing it with symbols used by more recent Indians, but basically, no one knows what its true purpose or meaning was.

ROCK ART IS VERY FRAGILE-DO NOT TOUCH IT. Years of weathering and erosion have taken some toll, but far less than the damage from thousands of people touching the soft sandstone. Your fingers leave oils, abrade the rock, and are the most significant factor in destroying petroglyphs. If you want to record rock art, photograph it (cloudy days or indirect light is best) or sketch it. DO NOT TRACE OR MAKE RUBBINGS, OR PUT CHALK ON THE ROCK. If you see someone touching rock art ask them to stop, or tell a ranger.

The Fremont People: Archaeologist first studied and named the Fremont culture along the Fremont River in south-central Utah, and have since traced it through much of the Green and Colorado River drainage’s. The lifestyle of the Fremont people varied considerably throughout that area, reflecting the diverse environments that they inhabited. In general, they lived in small bands or family groups, grew crops to supplement native foods, and did not build large permanent dwellings.

The Fremont People lived in a large portion of what is now Dinosaur National Monument, but few actual house remains are found here. Known dwelling places ranged from natural shelters (such as rock overhangs or shallow caves)to small “villages” in open areas. Probably the most advanced Fremont structure was the pithouse: a shallow, usually circular pit in the ground, into which wooden poles were set to support the mud-and-branch-covered upper walls and roof. It is likely that many dwelling sites were occupied only seasonally, as the people moved into and out of an area according to the availability of water and food.

Like other early people, the Fremont relied heavily on native plant foods, such as pinyon nuts, berries, and cactus fruits, and on wild game, including mule deer, bighorn sheep, smaller mammals, and birds. However, they also grew corn, beans, and squash, sometimes using irrigation techniques. This horticulture gave them, at least seasonally, a more settled life than a purely hunting-and-gathering existence, which in turn may have given them the time needed to create their elaborate rock art.

In the Dinosaur National Monument area, archaeological evidence of the Fremont dates form about 200 A.D. to about 1300 AD Both the origin and the fate of the Fremont culture are the subject of ongoing debate, and the culture’s “disappearance” is especially provocative and controversial. Recent theories suggest that the Fremont did not simply vanish, but that the people’s lifestyle may have changed form the pattern it had held for some centuries. Such a change might have resulted from drought or other climatic factors, dwindling natural resources, or the influence of other cultures, such as neighboring shoshonean people. Whatever the case, it is difficult to trace the Fremont as a distinct culture in the archaeological record after about 200 A.D.-but the Fremont rock art survives as a vivid reminder of these ancient people.

Rock Art in the Monument: The most easily accessible rock art sites in the monument are along Cub Creek, a few miles east of the dinosaur Quarry. Petroglyph panels in this are feature a variety of typical Fremont Designs, but are distinguished by several large lizards figures, not common at other sites.

Other sites are more remote. At McKee Spring, near Island Park, are some of the finest large anthropomorphic designs in the area, as well as many other figures. The Jones Hole trail passes pictographs and petroglyphs at the Deluge Shelter. There are several sites around Echo Park, including a panel of dot-pattern designs above Pool Creek.

BE CAREFUL AROUND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES. Rocky slopes below cliffs are often unstable, so watch your step, and don’t try to climb steep or exposed ledges. Watch out for occasional snakes or scorpions, and parents, keep an eye on your children.

Treat these places as fragile, irreplaceable museums. You would not touch the art of great masters…treat rock art with the same respect. Ponder it, enjoy it. Watch where you place your hands and feet. You may destroy an important page in the record of the past. DON”T BE A THIEF OF TIME.

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Cedar Breaks

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Welcome to Cedar Breaks National Monument. Cedar Breaks National Monument is situated at an elevation of 10,000 feet, and surrounded by Dixie National Forest. The main feature of Cedar Breaks is a huge natural amphitheater – a sort of mini Bryce Canyon – which plunges 2,000 feet into geologic history in the multicolored layers of the Markagunt Plateau. Inside this colorful bowl are hundreds of limestone formations. The pillars, columns, hoodoos and other oddities here seem particularly vivid because they are concentrated in a small area, and the surrounding alpine vegetation is lush and green. Millions of years of sedimentation, uplift and erosion have created a deep canyon of rock walls, fins, spires and columns that make up Cedar Breaks. These formations in Cedar Breaks National Monument span some three miles.

Cedar Breaks National Monument is 23 miles east of Cedar City and three miles south of the resort town, Brian Head. Cedar Breaks National Monument is open from late May to mid October. The campground is open mid-June to mid-Sept. Cedar Breaks is a premier cross-country skiing and snowmobiling destination in the winter with access from Brian Head Resort.

The rim of Cedar Breaks National Monument is forested with islands of Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir and aspen; separated by broad meadows of brilliant summertime wildflowers.


Cedar Breaks National Monument comprises 6,154 acres, and is an outstanding geological, scientific, and scenic area. Called a “Breaks” because of its abrupt, broken, and deeply eroded canyon, it is a 3.8-mile-long and 2.5-mile-wide amphitheater containing numerous ridges, cliffs, and spires eroded some 2,000 feet below the 10,300- to 10,500-foot elevation of the canyon. Iron and manganese oxide impurities produce an amazing variety of colors in the limestone cliffs that constantly change with the angle of the sun’s rays. In the meadows bordering the six-mile-long rim drive, colorful wildflowers in season provide another resplendent attraction. Additionally, there are fine stands of bristlecone pine trees (Pinus aristala), the oldest of which is more than 1,600 years old.

Located on the Markagunt Plateau, Cedar Breaks can be reached via Utah Highway 14 from U. S. Highway 89, or from Interstate 15 at Cedar City. Highway 143 runs to the area from Parowan and County Road 38 from Panguitch. About 500,000 people visit Cedar Breaks annually.

When Mormon pioneers settled Parowan on 13 January 1851 they built a wagon road to bring timber from the mountains. It eventually extended south to Cedar Breaks. However, the pioneers were somewhat indifferent to the scenery, for eroded canyons were interruptions to travel. Full development of the area’s tourist potential awaited automobile roads, campsites, and an organized, concerted promotional effort. After World War I, road funds became available under the Shakleford Act. Residents of Iron and Kane Counties applied for construction of a road from Highway 89 to Cedar City. Construction of the Cedar-Long Valley Road began in 1920 and was completed in 1923. A three-mile spur provided access for visitors to Cedar Breaks.

Meanwhile, in 1919, S.A. Halterman took the first auto to Cedar Breaks via the old wagon road in Parowan Canyon. By 1921 improvements to this route allowed Halterman to begin taking visitors to the Breaks on weekly trips. In 1923 the Union Pacific railroad built a thirty-three-mile-long branch line to the area from Lund; it reached Cedar City 17 June 1923. Utah Parks, a subsidiary of Union Pacific, soon built a lodge and cabins at the Breaks. They subsequently were removed in 1972.

In 1919 a movement began to transfer Cedar Breaks from the Dixie National Forest to the newly created National Park Service. Meanwhile, the Forest Service made many improvements, including the rim road, campgrounds, and toilet facilities. On 22 August 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Cedar Breaks a national monument, and it has since been managed by the National Park Service.

Wayne K. Hinton

Park Information

VISITATION: Highest in July and August; lowest in January and February (visitor facilities closed from mid-October through late May).

LOCATION: 23 miles east of Cedar City, Utah
ADDRESS: Cedar Breaks National Monument
2390 West Highway 56, Suite #11
Cedar City, Utah 84720-4151

OPERATING HOURS: From early June to early September, the visitor center is open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. From Labor Day until mid-October, it is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. All visitor facilities are CLOSED during the winter season (mid-October through late May).

CLIMATE: All visitor facilities and the scenic rim drive are located over 10,000 feet above sea level. In summer, daytime highs are cool, with temperatures in the upper 50’s to upper 60’s. Overnight lows during the summer are in the upper 30’s to lower 50’s. Subfreezing temperatures, snow and high winds can occur at any time of the year. Afternoon thunderstorms are common through July and August. Winter visitors who enter the park via skis or snowmobiles, must be prepared for extreme winter conditions. Visitors should bring a jacket and comfortable walking shoes or sturdy hiking boots, if planning to hike on either of the park’s two hiking trails.

PARK PROFILE: A huge natural amphitheater has been eroded out of the variegated Pink Cliffs (Claron Formation) near Cedar City, Utah. Millions of years of sedimentation, uplift and erosion have created a deep canyon of rock walls, fins, spires and columns, that spans some three miles, and is over 2,000 feet deep. The rim of the canyon is over 10,000 feet above sea level, and is forested with islands of Englemann spruce, subalpine fir and aspen; separated by broad meadows of brilliant summertime wild flowers.

DIRECTIONS: Visitors traveling south on I-15, exit at Parowan, then take Utah Highway 143 east, to Cedar Breaks National Monument. Visitors traveling north, on I-15 exit at Cedar City, then take Utah Highway 14 east for 18 miles, then Utah Highway 148 north, 4 miles to Cedar Breaks National Monument. Visitors traveling north/south on U.S. Highway 89, can take either Utah Highway 143 from Panguitch to Cedar Breaks, or Utah Highway 14 west, to Utah Highway 148, and north to Cedar Breaks National Monument.

FEES, COST, RATES: Entrance fee for a single, noncommercial, private vehicle is $4.00 for a seven-day permit. Entrance fee for pedestrians and bicyclists is $2.00 per person, for a seven-day permit. Commercial vehicle entrance fees are $100 for buses (26 or more seats) and $40 for vans (7-25 seats). Entrance fees for commercial sedans (1-6 seats) are a flat rate of $25 plus $2 per passenger.


ACCESSIBILITY: The visitor center, comfort stations, overlooks, picnic area and campground are wheelchair accessible.

CAMPING: Thirty site campground, no group sites. Limit eight persons per site. It has a picnic area.

FOOD & SUPPLIES: No food or supplies are available within the park. The nearby towns of Brian Head, Cedar City, Parowan, Duck Creek Village and Panguitch have stores and restaurants.

Programs: Geology talks given during the summer, Monday through Friday at 10:00 a.m., and daily at 2:30 p.m., at the Point Supreme Overlook. Join a Cedar Breaks ranger to learn about the basic geologic story of the Cedar Breaks amphitheater. During inclement weather, this presentation will be held inside the visitor center.

Guided nature walks given during the summer, Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 a.m., weather and trail conditions permitting. Meet at the Spectra Point trailhead in the visitor center parking lot. This two mile round trip hike will take you along the rim of the geologic amphitheater to a stand of Bristlecone pines, one of the world’s longest living tree species. A ranger will lead the hike out to Spectra Point, and along the way you will learn more of the geology of the park and the plant and animal life of Cedar Breaks. This is a moderately strenuous hike at elevations of 10,500 feet. It is NOT recommended for persons with cardiac or pulmonary health problems. Bring adequate footwear for hiking, and something to protect you from the cool winds.

Evening campfire programs given each evening during the summer through Labor Day, at the campground amphitheater (in case of rain, the programs will be held inside the visitor center). Dress warmly and bring a flashlight. Times and subjects vary throughout the week, so stop by the visitor center or call (801) 586-9451 to check on what program will be presented at the time of your visit.

Sightseeing includes magnificent vistas to the west, across the Escalante desert, into Nevada. Visibility exceeds 100 miles at times. Watchable wildlife is abundant. Hiking trails offer a closer look at the park. Picnicking and camping is permitted in designated locations.

ADJACENT VISITOR ATTRACTIONS: The park is surrounded on all sides by the Dixie National Forest and to the west by the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness Area. Brian Head Resort is located three miles north of the park, and during the summer the Utah Shakespearean Festival is held in Cedar City. Fishing opportunities are at nearby Navajo Lake (11 miles), Duck Creek (15 miles), or Panguitch Lake (13 miles). Several national and state parks are within a 100-mile radius of the park, including Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Iron Mission State Park, Snow Canyon State Park, and Quail Lake State Park.

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