With all the trips that I've done in the past few years this one had me the most nervous/apprehensive as to if I should even go. Why, I don't know.
With in the past year I've seen a few trip reports on Dinosaur National Monument on the Utah/Colorado border and some of the surrounding areas. I had been to this area as a little kid while on vacation but we never stop into the park itself only at the visitors center (my mother had to tell me this since I had to memory of it, only after did I remember). So this past Labor Day I decided to pack up and head out of dodge to areas less visited. The original plan was to leave Friday night and camp some where once I got out but after working a full day and still needing to pack I decided against it and just to leave early in the morning. Early in the morning as in 4am. Unfortunately, for me I tend to wake up early when I have things planned the following day, so up at 3am I was (energy drink #1).
After finishing some quick last minute packing (cooler and some miscellaneous items) I was out the door on my way. Only, to get sick about 45 minutes into it (won't go into details) which made for a long drive into Vernal (energy drink #2 was consumed in Roosevelt). After, making into Vernal and filling up with gas+5 gallon jerry can. I was office to Visitor Center on the Utah side to grab a map of the area and to check the road conditions. I think I came off a little smug when the ranger was telling me about the road conditions when the area was wet and of the rocky trail on Yampa Bench Road. Only later would I understand what she meant about the wet roads (see day #2).
So after that I was headed on out to the first stop along the way “Watson, Utah” or what is left of it but not without a stop or two.
Along the “Old Bonanza Highway”
Ignatio Stage Stop/White River Crossing
The stop over would be to the old town site of “Watson, Utah” (ran into vehicle #1 on the way out here, some oil worker I'm assuming)
One of the few remaining structures at the site.
The two other remaining structures
Just past the Evacuation Creek crossing there are tow more structures. I just caught them out of the corner of my eye and had to back up to investigate some (vehicle #2 past me here).
Next on stop on trip was the old mining site of “Rainbow”
After I Rainbow I continued to follow the road on over to the “Three Mile Canyon” cutoff that would eventually take me to my next stop of “Dragon”.
As luck would have it when I reached the road that lead down to “Dragon” I ended up missing the sign on the right hand side of the road and ended up 6 miles away on the Colorado border. Opps! Time to turn around.
Town site of “Dragon, Utah”
Building/Ruin #2 – I found it interesting that they just milled the one side of the long and smooth side for the interior of the building while leaving the bark and the unfinished edge on the outside.
This photo just kind of seems a little creepy to me
Other buildings/ruins that once were
After tooling around here for a bit and trying not to get a nail in the foot (make sure your tetanus shot is up-to-date)I headed down the canyon to explore some more. Once you reach the old cemetery you have to turn around as the road enters private property.
As I was leaving the canyon I noticed a few other structures along the left hand side of the road that required some further investigation.
Old foundation – Building/Ruin #4
After my stop in Dragon it was time to head on up to the visitor center on the Colorado side of the park.
About two to three miles past this photo you run into a short sandy section of the road. I though I'd be smart and try to avoid the ruts in the sand created by other vehicles but low and behold I ended up sinking into the sand a but while at speed and ended up jumping my 4runner. Opps! The landing was such that it shot washer fluid out of the nozzles (never had this happen before). So I got out to check for damage only to find none. Whew! Grab a few photos before heading back out.
When I reached Colorado I stopped at the Welcome Center to check out the maps of the area over there (which they have a ton of) and to grab another energy drink (#3) since that 3am wake up was wearing on me. The ladies at the welcome center looked a little bored.
Made one other stop at the Visitor Center for a quick rest and to check in with my family before heading on in to the park.
After a brief little stop (photo above) I decided to go ahead and head into camp for the night since seeing a number of vehicles entering the park while at the visitor center.
Camp for the night would be down in Echo Park down by the Yampa River. The campground normally has a fee but at this time of the year the fee is waived. Sweet!
The road down into Echo Park that I'd eventually take.
A few shots on the way down
Once I reached the campground I did a quick drive around to a camping spot since most of the 22 sites were already full. So I quickly set up my tent to claim my spot, then headed back up the road to complete the auto tour portion of the route and to do a little hiking.
Island Park over look was the first stop. There's a hiking trail here that is a couple of miles long but due to the time of day and being tried I passed on it.
Iron Springs Bench Overlook was next
Followed by Echo Park Overlook
Can you spot the road in this picture??
Yep, there it is. That's the route down to camp.
The last stop on the trip was Harper's Corner (end of the road anyways). I'd recommend taking the short hike at the end (mile in and a mile out)to get a good view of the surrounding area. The Geology here is crazy.
Couple of random photo's.
After the hike I was worn out even more so and hungry (you can only live off from Cheez-its and granola bars for so long). So I headed back into camp for the night with a stop or two along the way.
Can you spot the face?
I don't remember the name of this cabin
I probable spent about 15 minutes or so trying to figure out how this piece of equipment worked.
Camp for the night