19 Utah Dinosaur Sites The Whole Family Will Love

We finally made it outside of California! And where else to go with two little dinosaur lovers than the state with the most complete record of prehistoric life on the planet: Utah! Utah is full of dinosaur sites that will impress everyone in the family, from beautiful hikes with dinosaur trackways to hands-on museum exhibitions perfect for little dino lovers. The state is a wonderland for science and adventure-loving kids.

We started planning this trip before the first COVID lockdowns began, and ended up planning three versions of it before finally going. And in the meantime, I did a LOT of research on Utah and its dinosaur sites. There was way more that we wanted to see and do than could fit into our week-long dinosaur road trip.

The following are some of the highlights of our Utah story. We give you the details on the sites that we loved, and the sites that are on the top of our next Utah dinosaur road trip list.

Things are changing fast – make sure to double-check what’s open before your trip. And be sure to follow all local guidelines to keep yourself and others safe!

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THE BEST DINOSAUR ATTRACTIONS IN UTAH

I hope this post helps you gain ideas and inspiration for your own Utah dinosaur road trip. The dinosaur sites that follow are here on the post map for reference. The locations are sorted into the following regions: West Desert (yellow), Wasatch Range (green), Northeast (blue), Southeast (orange), South Central (pink), Southwest (red), and Central (light blue).

At the end of the post, I also include the itinerary for our own Utah dinosaur sites road trip. For variety, we did a lot of non-dino-related things too. Whenever we take a big trip like this, we make sure everyone picks an activity or destination along the way. Looking back at my notes, we somehow barely scratched the surface of this awesome state! But we made some unforgettable memories and hope to return someday in the not too distant future!

IN THIS POST

NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM OF UTAH

I still can’t believe that we ran out of time, and didn’t get to explore Salt Lake City. When we return, a stop at the Utah State Museum of Natural History will be at the top of our list! It’s one of the best Utah dinosaur sites for an overview of the state’s amazing paleontological finds.

As the state’s museum of natural history, this museum provides an overview of the entire state’s awe-inspiring landscape. Their new building is in the foothills of the Wasatch Range. Its 163,000 square feet provides plenty of room to display the state’s natural wonders and provides a working lab for researchers.

For dinosaur-lovers, there are over 30 full dinosaur skeletons on display and an expansive display of 14 Ceratopsian dinosaur skulls. One of the most interesting exhibits focuses on the Lythronax argestes, a new species of tyrannosaur discovered in Southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Paleontologists believe this “Gore King” is a close cousin of T-Rex. At 80 million years old, it is the oldest tyrannosaurid that has been discovered to date.

If you have young kids, make sure to check out the “Our Backyard” exhibit. Kids love this discovery area where they can see live insects, snakes, and other backyard animals. They can even get their hands wet in the pond and stream zone.

GEORGE S. ECCLES DINOSAUR PARK

Running from the dinosaurs at Eccles Dinosaur Park

The last park we visited on our trip was George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park in Ogden. The park is part of a complex that also includes the Elizabeth Dee Shaw Stewart Museum of Paleontology and the Ogden Natural History Museum. Admission tickets include entrance to all three.

As you enter through the Museum of Paleontology, the Museum sets a fun tone with a set of animatronic dinosaurs. Fittingly for our family (and I’m sure many others), the scene is of kid favorites: Triceratops and T-Rex.

As you descend into the main gallery, you get an overview of an impressive scene anchored by a huge T-Rex skeleton. Most of the fossils on display here are cast replicas, but their size and scale still give visitors a thrill. The museum also features a paleontology lab where visitors can spy on scientists at work and a sandbox for dino discoveries.

The outdoor Dinosaur Park is what drew us here. After a week of museums, we were happy to wander through the park. More than 100 dinosaur sculptures are featured. The size and scale are based on actual fossil skeletons, and they are brought to life with robotics, artistic details, and even a sound system.

Besides wandering through the dinosaur scenes, the boys enjoyed playing in the playground and spying on the ducks and swans. It’s a beautiful park in and of itself, and they enjoyed having time to run around and burn off some energy.

BYU MUSEUM OF PALEONTOLOGY

Before the BYU Museum of Paleontology opened, the university’s Earth Science Museum stored over 120 tons of unprepared fossils under the university football stadium! The collection was given 5,000 square feet of space so the fossils could be properly stored and displayed as a new Museum of Paleontology. 

The Museum was founded to feature the fossils collected by Dr. James A. Jensen and his teams. It is a part of the university system, with labs and hands-on learning opportunities for BYU students.

Though smaller than many of the state’s other museums, the BYU Museum of Paleontology is popular among Utah dinosaur sites for visitors who want to see and touch real fossils while learning more about the field of paleontology. The Museum doesn’t charge admission and is a great option for a quick visit if you’re in town or passing by.

MUSEUM OF ANCIENT LIFE AT THANKSGIVING POINT

The Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point is the only one of our Utah dinosaur sites situated within a park that also includes a nonprofit farm, garden, and museum complex. The institutions here offer a range of activities inspired by the natural world and can easily provide a full day of family fun.

At Thanksgiving Point’s Museum of Ancient Life, visitors roam among dinosaur fossils, explore a Carboniferous Forest, and dive into a Cretaceous Ocean. The museum has 60 complete dinosaur skeletons and more than 50 hands-on exhibits.

Visitors can check out what paleontologists are working on in the lab and join a paleontology class. Families can even make an evening of it with tickets to a dinosaur-themed 3D movie at the complex’s Mammoth Screen.

In addition to the Museum of Ancient Life, Thanksgiving Point has a 55-acre botanical garden, the Butterfly Biosphere insect zoo, the Museum of Natural Curiosity, and a working farm where visitors can meet farm animals.

Contrary to popular belief, the name has nothing to do with the American holiday. The family that created the complex was thankful for the land and named it accordingly.

U-DIG FOSSILS

If exploring these Utah dinosaur sites has your family wishing they could join a fossil dig, head over to U-Dig Fossils. This family-owned quarry is full of trilobite fossils that you can discover and take home.

Trilobites roamed sea floors and coral reefs over 500 million years ago. Today’s quarry visitors can pay a fee to reserve dig time and the tools needed to uncover these marine fossils. You only need to bring a pair of garden gloves, safety glasses, some snacks, and a container to bring your fossils home.

It’s a tad bit pricey, but kids 6 and under are free.

DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT

Dinosaur National Monument Park Sign

The only national park on this list, Dinosaur National Monument is likely the most well-known of the Utah dinosaur sites that we visited. We’d watched quite a few shows and online programs featuring the park, so JJ was counting down the days to our visit. As we drove toward the entrance, both boys were bouncing with excitement!

We stopped to take a photo with Doris the Apatosaurus and enjoyed a chat with the friendly Park Rangers. JJ was thrilled to find out that he could get both a Jr. Ranger Badge and a Jr. Paleontologist Badge here.

Within a few minutes, we were on a shuttle to the Quarry Exhibit Hall. I’d seen many photos and videos of the hall, so I was surprised at how impressed I was by the central exhibit. The building is built around a wall of approximately 1,500 dinosaur bones including Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodocus, and Stegosaurus. There are even a few places where you can reach out and touch the 149 million-year-old dinosaur fossils!

After touring the Quarry, you can take the shuttle back to the Visitor Center or walk back via the 1.2-mile long Fossil Discovery Trail. The trail cuts through several rock layers that expose three fossil areas. You’ll find a few large dinosaur fossils in their natural state. Seeing them in person makes it easy to imagine the excitement paleontologists must have experienced on the site 100 years ago.

Though the Quarry is undoubtedly the park’s biggest attraction, I was surprised to see how much there was to do here. We chose to drive an auto-tour featuring petroglyphs and pictographs. There are also rafting tours, campgrounds, and plenty of options for longer hikes.

JUNIOR RANGER TIP

Getting the Jr Ranger Badge at Dinosaur National Park

We printed out the Jr Ranger booklet at home so that we could fill it out throughout the trip. Dinosaur National Park offers a pre-reader option as well.

Even though the official booklets make wonderful souvenirs, I find that we never have enough time to finish them while visiting the parks. Doing them ahead of time also builds excitement about what they are about to see.

UTAH FIELD HOUSE OF NATURAL HISTORY STATE PARK

Playing in the exhibits at the Field House Museum of Natural History in Vernal, Utah

A massive Diplodocus welcomes visitors to the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum. This is one of the key dinosaur sites in Utah, serving as both a large natural history museum and state park. Like many of the state’s wonderful museums, it was founded to conduct paleontological research while also serving as a site of edutainment for dino-enthusiasts.

At first glance, it seemed like we would quickly breeze through the museum. Then you open a side door and begin descending through levels with fascinating and interactive exhibits. Besides the Diplodocus, you can see complete skeletons of a Stegosaurus, Brontotherium, Haplocanthosaurus, and Allosaurus. A stone wall exhibit also challenges visitors to find fossils that were never fully excavated.

The exhibits get more friendly for younger visitors the deeper you go into the museum. Hands-on exhibits invite you to brush aside sand in a replica of the famous Morrison Dig and try to solve problems like a paleontologist. There’s even a space that asks you to put on a museum curator hat and construct your own dinosaur exhibit.

Outside, the boys loved exploring the Vernal Dinosaur Garden with its 14 life-size dinosaur sculptures. Their favorite was, no surprise, a T-Rex battling a Triceratops. We also had fun with the Utahraptor, placed as though he’s looking through the museum windows.

RED FLEET STATE PARK AND DINOSAUR TRACK SITE

Playing on the shores of Red Fleet Reservoir

After a few days exploring the incredible beauty of southern Utah, we headed to the northwest corner of the state known as “Dinosaurland.” John didn’t want to set up and break down our camping gear on this trip, so we booked a teepee to make our camping leg a bit easier. 

The drive into the park was exciting in and of itself. As you wind through the hills, the landscape is punctuated by signs describing dinosaur fossils that are found there. They are written to help you imagine the dinosaurs living and wandering through the very spot you are driving through.

The campground is on the banks of Red Fleet Reservoir in Red Fleet State Park. It’s a beautiful spot to camp or to play for a day. But the big appeal for us was the dinosaur track site just a quick kayak ride away.

My only complaint about this park is that it is staffed by young people who are, let’s say, not very professional. We planned to set up camp, and then rent a kayak to explore the track site and reservoir. Unfortunately, there is no posted schedule for renting watercraft. This leaves the staff to decide when they are going to let people rent them. On our day, it was a no. The only people able to rent any watercraft were the siblings and friends of the staff. They were given keys to take what they wanted.

If you hope to kayak to the track site, which looked like quite an amazing experience, bring your own watercraft if you can. If we return, we’ll be bringing an inflatable kayak with us.

RED FLEET DINOSAUR TRACKWAY

Dino Tracks at Red Fleet
Finding the Tracks at Red Fleet State Park

When our kayaking plans didn’t work out, we drove to the Red Fleet Dinosaur Trackway trailhead instead. Though it was a disappointing turn of events, the trail turned out to be one of our favorite Utah dinosaur sites.

A short well-marked hike leads to the dinosaur trackway. Once there, you’ll find several hundred tracks left by Dilophosaurus 157 to 206 million years ago. The tracks are scattered over a steep slope that leads down to the water. They aren’t all easy to spot, so take your time exploring the area. A few signs help you locate some of the most prominent tracks which also orients you to the space.

Looking at the families nearby, I noticed that after the initial excitement of finding tracks, parents became a bit more obsessed with finding tracks than their kids. As parents continued roving the track site, the kids moved on to splashing in the water. But all were having a great time.

The trail is described as a moderate 3 mile out and back, but we didn’t find it challenging at all…and that’s not usual for us! You want to wear hiking shoes with good traction as there are some areas with easy rock scrambling. The sandstone area at the track site is also on a steep incline, and hiking shoes helped with stability.

MOAB GIANTS

On my third iteration of our dinosaur road trip, I had to shorten the trip. This meant we couldn’t make it to Moab. The adventure town is at the top of our list for a return trip, for its many exciting outdoor activities and the Moab Giants dinosaur attraction.

Moab Giants stands out among Utah dinosaur sites because it has an innovative approach to teaching about the past through 21st-century technology. A main attraction is the 5D (3D + sensory elements + movement) prehistoric aquarium. The experience allows visitors to fully engage with prehistoric marine animals, from sea turtles to a megalodon.

You can also explore an interactive track experience. Technology brings the past to life as the exhibits explain the impact of fossil footprints on paleontology and geology. If you plan on exploring the region’s dinosaur trackways, check this out first!

Outside, Moab Giants features over 100 life-size dinosaurs and their tracks. There is also a dinosaur-themed playground with rock climbing, slides, and a chance to climb inside a T-Rex mouth! This is a great place to get the kids’ energy out before heading back to the hotel.

UTAHRAPTOR STATE PARK

Utah has a new state park perfect for dino-loving families! Utahraptor State Park neighbors Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Besides the beautiful red rock formations, the land is famous for pre-historic fossils the lie just below the surface.

Utahraptor State Park has unique exposures to Cretaceous layers of rock, and the raptors found within its borders are some of the oldest on the planet. Ten different species have already been discovered here, and it’s clear that there are many mysteries here yet to be solved. The decision to protect the land as a state park is a welcome one to dinosaur lovers. The park is sure to race to the top of the list of Utah dinosaur sites.

True to the area’s attractions, the park will also offer recreational activities, including ATVing, hiking, and mountain biking trails.

At the time of writing, the state is currently setting up park infrastructure and staffing. Check out the state park site for the latest information on visiting the park. 

MILL CANYON DINOSAUR TRAILS

The Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail is a short nature trail that packs a big punch. Dinosaur bones can be viewed along the trail, still encased in rock. This is a short self-guided interpretive hike with signs along the way to help you identify the dinosaurs that lived here 150 million years ago. Staff at the Moab Information Center will give you a free brochure, or you can print it ahead of time.

Part of the drive to get here is on a dirt road which is impassable when wet. The soft sands might be tricky for some cars, but plenty of minivan drivers have said they’ve made it. It’s a good idea to ask for current road conditions and tips from the Information Center before you go.

Before getting to the Dinosaur Bone Trail, you’ll pass the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Track site. This is another quick walk along a boardwalk with interpretive panels. Each panel describes the dinosaur tracks found here.

These trails are free for the public to explore. They’ve survived there for millions of years, and now it’s up to visitors to continue protecting these valuable natural resources.

COPPER RIDGE DINOSAUR TRACKS

North of Moab, Copper Ridge features the tracks of sauropods (long-necked plant-eating dinosaurs) and theropods (meat-eating dinosaurs). The variety of tracks from the Jurassic period make the Copper Ridge site stand out from other sites.

Locating the tracks on most trackways can be challenging if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Copper Ridge is recommended as one of the top Utah dinosaur sites because of the clear preservation of the tracks. The sauropod tracks, believed to belong to an apatosaurus, are two-foot-wide and easy to find. Most agree that it is well worth a visit if you are in the Moab area.

The Bureau of Land Management has placed interpretive signs in the area to help orient viewers, and parking is close to the track site. To reach Copper Ridge, you have to drive a short distance on a dirt road. Vehicles with 4WD are best but not essential. Drive carefully and avoid driving in the area when the ground is wet.

THE DINOSAUR MUSEUM

If you find yourself in the southeastern corner of the state, take some time to check out the Dinosaur Museum. The museum is located in Blanding, a gateway town to some of the region’s most amazing activities.

Though smaller than many of the state’s museums, The Dinosaur Museum aims to share a complete history of the world as it relates to dinosaurs. Everything from skeletons to eggs to dinosaurs in popular culture can be found here.

Visitors enjoy looking at the life-sized sculptures of dinosaurs and considering mysteries like dinosaur skin that are not often discussed at other museums.

This is a great stop for dinosaur lovers traveling through a beautiful corner of the state.

BIG WATER VISITOR CENTER

We loved exploring Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and we barely scratched the surface. It’s HUGE and many of the roads leading to popular sites and trails aren’t paved. If you find yourself on the southern end of the monument, between Kanab and Lake Powell, take some time to stop at the Big Water Visitor Center.

One of the Monument’s four visitor centers, its architecture was inspired by Ammonite, a spiral-shaped fossil. Each of the visitor centers has a different theme, and Big Water’s is the region’s geologic and paleontological discoveries.

Several exhibits here feature paleontology discoveries in Grand Staircase Escalante. Since 2005, fourteen new dinosaur species were discovered in the Monument. This makes it one of the most productive paleontological regions on the North American continent. As you enter, you’ll pass a dinosaur dig exhibit in the courtyard. Inside you’ll find fossils and information about the dinosaurs that once roamed here.

While you’re taking in all the info, talk to the rangers about the region. They’ll have some great ideas and suggestions for things to do.

HANKSVILLE-BURPEE DINOSAUR QUARRY

The 600-foot by 150-foot excavation site at the Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry has revealed a treasure trove of fossils. Excavations began in 2008 and soon revealed fossils from several types of dinosaurs. Full dinosaur skeletons found here include a T. Rex named Jane, a juvenile Triceratops called Homer, and an almost complete Diplodocus now known as Jimmy.

Though you can hike nearby on your own, interpreting the site is challenging without prior training. As the area has increased in fame, it has also become more vulnerable to vandalism. The best way to see the quarry is via an hour-long tour led by paleontologists and educators from the Burpee Museum. During their summer tours, they accommodate 25 people (first come, first served) at 90-minute intervals between 10 am and 4 pm. There are no facilities at the site, so bring everything you need with you.

Those interested in participating in the actual dig experience should inquire about the Burpee Museum’s Jurassic Journeys program which takes place in June each year. For more information on tours and programs, contact the Bureau of Land Management office in Hanksville or the Burpee Museum.

As with many of these locations, much of the road to the quarry is unpaved. Drive carefully and know that they may be impassible for all but 4WD vehicles after rain.

ST. GEORGE DINOSAUR DISCOVERY SITE

St George Dino Discovery Site

The St. George Discovery Site was our first stop in the state. The story of the museum began not too long ago. In 2000, Dr. Johnson was leveling a hill on his property when he came across a “paleontological jackpot.” He had uncovered a dinosaur track site on his property.

The family decided to share the tracks with the world and opened the farm to the public. In a short time, the state’s paleontologists and hundreds of volunteers revealed thousands of fossils at the site. According to paleontologist, Jim Kirkland, “The St. George track site is not only the oldest Jurassic dinosaur site in Utah, it is the best basal Jurassic track site in western North America.”

The museum you visit today is an indoor natural history museum built right over the original discovery site. The exhibits are content-rich and written for visitors with varying levels of interest and understanding. Young children will need some help digesting the information (and to be honest, at times I needed a little extra help too!).

A big positive is that the staff strive to make the museum accessible to visitors of all levels. We were given a scavenger hunt that helped us navigate exhibit highlights. J and I moved slowly throughout the main hall. John and Bug skimmed the surface and then went on to dig for fossils in the lobby’s sandbox before heading outside to the Dino Park. The outdoor area has a larger fossil-dig sandpit where Bug could have stayed for hours. They also have a couple of model dinosaurs that kids can climb.

We brought in a picnic lunch and enjoyed it outside while the boys ran around. Then the kids happily hit the gift shop before we moved on to the next stop.

WARNER VALLEY DINOSAUR TRACKS

Outside of St. George, the Warner Valley Dinosaur Tracks are among the most impressive in the area. You’ll find at least three different types of dinosaur tracks along this short and easy trail. Scientists who studied the region have identified over 400 fossilized tracks here!

Interpretive signs near the tracks suggest that this area was part of a “dino thoroughfare.” Nearby petrified wood indicates that it might have once been a woodland, very different from the environment you’ll experience on your visit.

There is no doubt that it’s exciting to place your hand or foot on the site where a dinosaur roamed millions of years ago. But the area is also gorgeous to explore. The red mountains and rolling hills make for a memorable walk in their own right. It’s almost a shame that the tracks are just a short walk from the parking lot!

CLEVELAND-LLOYD DINOSAUR QUARRY

In 2019, the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry was expanded to the 850-acre Jurassic National Monument. This area contains the densest concentration of Jurassic-aged dinosaur bones ever found, making it one of the most impressive Utah dinosaur sites from a scientific perspective. More than 12,000 bones have been excavated at this quarry to date.

Most of the bones found here come from the Allosaurus, allowing for a deeper understanding of the species. However, even as scientists learn more about the dinosaurs found at the site, many mysteries remain unsolved. Particularly, how did this many dinosaurs end up in one place, and why are there so many carnivores?

Besides visiting the Cleveland-Lloyd Interpretive Center, visitors can walk around the monument to explore excavation sites and scenic vistas. Bring your hiking shoes and plenty of water.

The Quarry is in the northern San Rafael Swell, which is a very remote area. Have a full tank of gas before trying to get here. When we drove north from the more-developed southern part of the state, we were sure that we would find a gas station within 150 miles. We didn’t. It was a close call and we had to backtrack. Be more prepared than you think is necessary!

UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY EASTERN PREHISTORIC MUSEUM

One of the things that make the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum so unique is its location. Eastern Utah is home to rich archaeological, paleontological, and geological resources. The collections on display here were all discovered near the Museum’s location. This means that you not only get to see fossils, but you can imagine the world in which they lived.

The collection includes tracks and fossils from coal mines, the Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry, and Cedar Mountain. It is well known for its display of a complete Utahraptor skeleton. The species was discovered in collaboration with museum staff.

Utahraptors became famous as the baddies in Jurassic Park. I know, we all heard them call the dinosaurs Velociraptors. But the Velociraptor was a much smaller dinosaur. Utahraptor was discovered the same year that the movie came out, and is more scientifically similar to the vicious intelligent creatures in the film.

Kiddos also love the Discovery Area with its hands-on activities. Little visitors can dig, color, and discover dinosaur behavior by studying their fossils.

ITINERARY: DINOSAUR ROAD TRIP WITH KIDS

The following is the itinerary for our week-long road trip through Utah dinosaur sites. We visited several of the sites listed above, but also stopped at non-dino-related places to keep our dinosaur days fresh and exciting. There’s so much more that we’d love to do on a future trip!

We drove to Utah from California, so we started from Las Vegas and then left the state from Park City and headed to Reno. An itinerary like this can be easily modified with a roundtrip to and from Salt Lake City.

Day 1: Getting Our Feet Wet Sandy

Hanging out in Moqui Caverns near Kanab

On day 1, we worked our way up from the southwestern border of the state. Starting at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site was an easy choice! We spent a few hours there, with JJ and I working through the museum slowly while John and Bug buzzed through and spent most of their time outside. It was an exciting dino start to our tour!

The rest of our day was spent burning off energy and exploring the natural beauty of southern Utah. We slid down dunes at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and scaled a wall to enter the Moqui Caverns. As we reached our cabin-hotel that evening, we were already in awe of the state.

We stayed at Bryce Country Cabins in Tropic, Utah. The accommodations were convenient to Bryce Canyon National Park and our adventures along Highway 12.

Day 2: Exploring Highway 12

Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon

This was our least dino-focused day. We couldn’t be so close to Bryce Canyon National Park without a visit, so we got up early and parked near the trailhead at Sunrise Point. We had the Queen’s Garden Trail almost to ourselves which was a magical experience!

After a picnic brunch and visitor center stops, we were back on the road to explore scenic Highway 12. I had a hunch the boys needed to rest, so we drove a long stretch to the Anasazi State Park Museum. Once again, JJ and I took our time completing the museum’s scavenger hunt to learn about Ancestral Puebloan life. John and Bug zipped through. We all enjoyed exploring the outdoors replicas of home sites circa AD 1300 and the ruins of an ancient Native American village.

On the way back along Highway 12, we stopped at Devil’s Garden off of Hole-in-the-Rock Road. This was quite an adventure, and we were the only people there to explore the Navajo Sandstone hoodoos, domes, passages, and arches.

Day 3: Onward to Dinosaur Country

Getting some Caffeine in Helper, Utah

It’s a long drive from southern Utah to Vernal, and, as we would learn, you need to be prepared before heading into central Utah. We had about 150 miles to go to get gas and thought we’d be sure to pass something before then. Nope. We ended up backtracking to a small gas station that had been closed when we first passed by. Fill up before you leave the touristy areas. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring a spare gas can too, just in case!

We took a lunch break in Helper, Utah, a small railroad town having an artsy renaissance. We packed a picnic lunch and ate in lovely Helper City Park where the boys could burn off steam.

Once in Vernal, we visited the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park. The boys loved the hands-on exhibits and running around the outdoor Dinosaur Garden.

Then it was on to Red Fleet State Park. We threw our bags in the teepee and set out to find a way to cross the reservoir to the dinosaur trackway. After renting a kayak didn’t work out, we drove to the Red Fleet Dinosaur Trail. This turned out to be a beautiful, well-marked hike that I’m glad we took the time to do. We seemed to reach the trackway in record time. It was pretty awesome to imagine standing on the same spot as the dinosaurs had millions of years before.

Back at the campground, we headed down to the banks of the reservoir. We ate a picnic dinner while the boys splashed along the shore. As the sun set, John couldn’t resist the urge to jump off the docks a time or two!

Day 4: Dinosaur National Monument and Park City

Touching the wall of fossils at Dinosaur Quarry...it's allowed!

The next morning we woke up and headed straight to Dinosaur National Monument. Of all the stops on the trip, this is the one JJ was most familiar with and he was thrilled to see it in person. We had a wonderful day here. I swear they have the friendliest Park Rangers we’ve met yet!

We hopped on the shuttle to the Quarry shortly after we arrived. I was more impressed than I expected to be after having seen it so many times on video! I’d hoped to take the Fossil Discovery Trail back down, but we spent more time at the Quarry than planned so we took the shuttle instead.

Before leaving Dinosaur National Monument we drove the Tour of Tilted Rocks auto tour which leads to the park’s pictographs and petroglyphs. After reaching the lizard petroglyphs on one of the final stops, 4-year-old Bug asked to keep going when we started to head back to the car. He didn’t want to miss a single one! 

Eventually, we made our way back on the road to our next stop, the Homestead Crater in Midway, Utah. This geothermal spring is hidden below a 55-foot cone-shaped rock on the property of the Homestead resort. Over 10,000 years in the making, this was a great spot for us all to unwind after several days on the move.

Soaking in the thermal springs at Homestead Crater

At last, we made our way to Park City, where I’d booked an AirBnB for the last few days of the trip. Having a living room, television, pool and hot tub felt like a major luxury. We enjoyed a mellow night in our home away from home.

Day 5: Playing Near Park City

John on the Bobsled at Park City Olympic Park

On our last full day in Utah, we started by ticking off something from John’s wishlist: a bobsled ride at the Park City Olympic Park. It was an exciting start to the day, and we were impressed by how much the park had to offer.

We watched kids learning how to do aerial ski jumps into a pool and then brought our usual picnic lunch to the kids’ area with free climbing structures. There were family-friendly ropes courses here and entertaining views of people zooming down the extreme tubing lanes!

We then headed into the Olympic Museum where we had fun with their interactive exhibits. Bug and I got to ride the virtual bobsled and JJ proved to be surprisingly skillful at the simulation ski jump!

The Playground at Eccles Dinosaur Park

Our last Utah dinosaur attraction of the trip was to the George Eccles Dinosaur Park in Ogden. After several serious dinosaur stops, it was fun to roam around outside looking at the sculptures and playing in the playground. It was a perfect farewell to our week of dinosaur fun.

We headed back to the condo for some pool time before calling it a day.

Day 6: Goodbye Utah

On our last day in Utah, we pretty much just hit the road. We passed through Salt Lake City on the way to Reno and got a glimpse of the lake which was at record lows.

We had hoped to stop off at the Bonneville Salt Flats before crossing into Nevada, but the kiddos were already out when we passed by. I loved glimpsing people playing in the salt as though it were snow!

We had a remarkable week in Utah, and I’m so glad we finally made it work after three attempts! This state has unlimited natural beauty and is well worth a visit. I hope it’s not too long before we’re back for more.

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