Dinosaur National Monument: Hiking The Box Canyon Trail

Box Canyon Trail in Dinosaur National Monument

The Tour Of The Tilted Rocks scenic drive on Cub Creek Road in Dinosaur National Monument travels 12 miles from the Quarry Visitor Center to the Josie Bassett Morris Homestead, then back again to total 24 miles. Along the drive, there are several scenic vista, stops, and roadside pullouts to view things like the Swelter Shelter petroglyphs, the Fremont petroglyphs, the Turtle Rock and Elephant Toes Butte rock formations, and the Split Mountain Campgrounds and the Green River.

The beautiful scenic drive through Cub Creek Valley is the perfect thing to do after visiting the Quarry Visitor Center and Quarry Exhibit Hall to see the famous Wall Of Dinosaur Bones, and if it’s not too hot, hiking the Fossil Discovery Trail.

When we reached the Josie Bassett Morris Homestead at end Cub Creek Road on the Tour Of The Tilted Rocks drive, we had no idea that it is also the trailhead for two easy, short trails: The Box Canyon Trail and The Hog Canyon Trail.

Box Canyon Trail

The Box Canyon Trail is an easy, mostly flat, 0.5 mile round trip, out and back hiking trail that winds underneath a canopy of trees and leads into a box canyon.

Box canyons are canyons with steep walls on three sides and only one way in and out. This box canyon sits at the base of Split Mountain and was used by Josie Morris as a natural corrals for her livestock. On the Box Canyon Trail walk/hike, lasting about 20 minutes, you’ll pass by walls of the Split Mountain Weber Sandstone, under a canopy of trees, and over a sandy canyon floor. The trail is perfect for families with children because it is partially shaded even in the middle of the day, and at the end, there is a big rock to climb on that makes for great photos!

Know Before You Go

  • Box Canyon Trail is located near the Josie Bassett Morris Homestead at the end of the Tour Of The Tilted Rocks Scenic Drive, a 12 mile one-way drive along Cub Creek Road in Dinosaur National Monument.
  • The drive begins at the Quarry Visitor Center located off Highway 149 at 11625 E 1500 Street, Jensen, Utah 84035 in Uintah County.
  • The last two miles of the route are unpaved but well maintained. The last four miles are unplowed in the winter and may not be passable by car December to March.
  • Some other stops along the self-guided Tour Of The Tilted Rocks include the Swelter Shelter petroglyphs, Split Mountain viewpoint, the Green River, Turtle Rock and Elephant Toes Butte, the Fremont petroglyphs, and the Josie Bassett Morris Homestead.
  • At the Quarry Visitor Center, pick up the Tour of The Tilted Rocks print guide ($1.00) with information about wildlife, unique rock formations, petroglyphs, and historic sites along the road. The guide will tell you to allow at least one hour for the Tour Of The Tilted Rocks drive, but it took us almost three hours because we stopped at all of the stops along the way.
  • The Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm during peak season from late May to mid-September and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm during the off season from mid-September to late May. Dinosaur National Monument is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
  • Be prepared for desert hiking and take a hat, sunscreen, and water. Wear comfortable shoes, the trail is very sandy. We were wearing flip flops and at one point, I just took my flip flops off and walked in the sand.
  • This area is frequented by black bears and mountain lions so keep children close.
  • Pets are not allowed on this trail or in the monument’s backcountry.
  • Fuel, food, and other services are not available along this route. The nearest services are in Jensen, Utah, seven miles south of the Quarry Visitor Center.

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