Summer Travel Quest #18

Touch a Dinosaur Bone in the Wild

Lay your hands on a 149 million-year-old piece of history at Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument
by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher
An award-winning travel writer and family vacations expert, Suzanne is always up for a summer road trip.

Besides offering one of the world’s largest collections of mounted dinosaurs, Utah is a trove of discovery sites.

The world’s most famous dinosaur fossil quarry is Dinosaur National Monument, where budding paleontologists can marvel at the nearly 1,500 bones and fossils still embedded in the rock face quarry wall and, in some places, actually touch the bones. From May through September, park rangers offer daily guided fossil discovery trail hikes.

INSIDER TIP

Leave time to check out the monument’s many petroglyphs depicting human and animal figures from thousands of years ago. Though lesser known than the fossil beds, they offer another fascinating window to Utah’s ancient history.

The Quarry Exhibit Hall overlooks the site where many of the specimens in philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s collection were first discovered, in 1909. Six years later, President Woodrow Wilson designated the area Dinosaur National Monument, and in 1938, the then-80-acre monument was expanded to cover a vast tract of 200,000 acres in Utah and Colorado.

Even today Dinosaur National Monument is an ongoing dig full of new discoveries. In 2010, a team of paleontologists discovered the remains of a previously unknown plant-eating dinosaur, abydosaurus mcintoshi, in the park’s 105-million-year-old Cedar Mountain Formation. The find included the only complete sauropod skull in the Western Hemisphere dating from the last 80 million years of the Age of Dinosaurs.

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An award-winning travel writer and family vacations expert, Suzanne is always up for a summer road trip.

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MORE SUMMER TRAVEL QUESTS

16) Sleep in an Authentic Victorian Railroad Car

17) Walk the Longest Pier on the West Coast

18) Touch a Dinosaur Bone in the Wild

19) Find the Perfect Hawaiian Shirt

20) Drink in an Ice Vault

>> All 99 Summer Travel Quests

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Use the hashtag #99SummerQuests to share your own summer travels, and follow along with us at @MapQuest and Instagram.

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