Plus, there are thousands and thousands of Native American petroglyphs and pictographs around, and as the landscapes change, more and more are discovered. It’s a seemingly endless landscape with so much left to uncover. It is truly remarkable.
I spent a week roadtripping and rafting through Dinosaurland and Dinosaur National Monument over the Fourth of July holiday week in 2022. I learned a ton about the country’s makeup and the rich history of the rocks around me, I did things I’ve never done before, and I spent a week by myself being constantly blown away by the scenery.
My trip started with Dinosaur River Expeditions. We spent four incredible days rafting down The Green River through Dinosaur National Monument.
More than half of Dinosaur National Monument is only accessible by raft. I was unbelievably fortunate to have been able to join one of the few charters that gets to enter The Gates of Lodore each day.
Words can never describe how humbling the landscape is with its thousand-foot-high canyon walls, raging white water rapids, and relentless sun. It was a journey unlike anything I’ve ever been on, and the guides did everything for us including cooking our food and rowing our boats. It was awesome!
Read and see more from this indescribable four-day white water river charter with Dinosaur River Expeditions here.
Back in Vernal:
The Vernal Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo:
Vernal, Utah, is a relatively small town. I don’t know the actual population, but when the Fourth of July and the rodeo were in town on back-to- back weekends, the town didn’t feel so tiny anymore.
For the Fourth of July, the town shuts down its downtown to assemble stages for bands and tents and tables for local vendors. It's a true hometown throwdown!
Every year on the second full weekend of July, Vernal hosts its annual rodeo, The Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo. In 2022, that weekend was conveniently right after The Fourth of July, so the town stayed buzzing. The rodeo is a classic show with bull riding, barrel racing, calf roping, and all the pageantry you could imagine - rodeo clowns included.
The Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo was my first ever rodeo, and I had an absolute blast going by myself plus tickets were only $15.
See more from the rodeo at minute 5:30 in my YouTube video below:
While in Vernal, I learned about a lot of things nearby that I wasn’t originally planning to see. One of those was Bling Frog Ranch. During my river expedition, a guide told me that the infamous Skinwalker Ranch was located close to Vernal. My jaw dropped. One of the most paranormal sites in the world was just miles down the road from my hotel. I knew I had to go.
He told me it had been rebranded to be “Bling Frog Ranch”, so I booked a tour as soon as I was back in cell service. The guide, unfortunately, had given me some false information. Blind Frog Ranch was real, and they do tours, but it’s not Skinwalker Ranch. In fact, it's 40 miles from it by road.
Blind Frog Ranch has had “other-worldly” things happen here, but the tour guide from BFR said himself, “Skinwalker Ranch is like the dark energy, and this is more healing”. I wanted the darkness. I was prepared for crazy government conspiracies and wacky stuff, but got a very calm tour much more based around the Discovery+ Television show instead.
It was entertaining and fun, because there were some mega TV-show fans on the tour who knew every place we went and saw. For the price, I wouldn’t recommend it to those who haven’t seen the show, but it was fun.
The next morning, I left Vernal to go search for petroglyphs and pictographs. Another place I learned about while in Vernal was Nine Mile Canyon. It is one of the world’s largest collections of ancient Native American artwork also known as “The World’s Longest Art Gallery”.
It is a 40-mile canyon full of artwork from a thousand years ago. The Fremont Indians left tens of thousands of pieces of artwork along the rock walls in this stretch. They show fascinating scenes of owls, snakes, buffalo, portals, rivers, and so much more.
Before sunset I quickly made it to Fantasy Canyon to fly my drone and take some photos. It is a very small area, the entire hike is only a half-mile, so it was easy to walk around and shoot all my content in under two-hours.
My final day, I finally went back to Dinosaur National Monument. It was time to see, from the top, what I had seen from the river a few days earlier.
I started at The Wall of Bones and worked my way through the Utah side stopping at every scenic viewpoint along the roadside. Then, I circled back into Colorado to enter from the other side of Dinosaur National Monument to hike at Harpers Corner.
Harpers Corner could not have been a more special viewpoint for my final moments inside the monument. I stood there and admired the swirly rocks below and watched the water for rafters as I stood there in sheer awe at the beauty of it all.
See more from my day inside Dinosaur National Monument in my video below and in my detailed blog post here!
In those final moments inside Dinosaur National Monument, I reflected on a sign I had seen in the visitors’ center which said the park, “has the most complete geological record of any National Park Service Site,” and it made me think about other places I have been like The Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. Truthfully, I don’t think they even compare to Dinosaur National Monument.
I ended this trip feeling amazing, inquisitive, and sheerly dumbfounded. I had never felt like this about another place. Dinosaurland, USA, you stole my heart. I will be back to do some more exploring. You can count on that!
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read.