We planned our three week summer road trip around the 2018 Dead & Company Summer Tour. Concerting at night and adventuring during the day is our favorite thing to do in the summer the band’s west coast swing is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Originally we were going to road trip to eight Dead & Company shows, but ended up cutting it back to six — The Gorge Amphitheater, Autzen Stadium, two concerts at Shoreline Amphitheater, and two concerts at Folsom Field — to make time to visit Dinosaur National Monument and Rocky Mountain National Park on the way from California to Colorado.
We were all excited to visit Dinosaur National Monument and see the famous Wall Of Bones!
The Quarry Visitor Center
Located just north of Jensen, Utah, the Quarry Visitor Center at Dinosaur National Monument is the gateway to the Quarry Exhibit Hall and the world famous wall of dinosaur bones.
The Quarry Visitor Center is the first stop on a visit to Dinosaur National Monument. Here a Stegosaurus statue from the 1964 World’s Fair greeted us as we walked across an old railroad bridge to enter the visitor center. Inside the Visitor Center, there is a gift shop, exhibits on the variety of resources and places to explore in the monument, and a twelve-minute park film.
This is also where you catch the free shuttle (or meet up with the ranger for a caravan drive) to visit the famous Wall Of Bones at the Quarry Exhibit Hall. Shuttles run frequently throughout the day and they’re much bigger than you think, so luckily we didn’t have to wait long.
The Quarry Visitor Center, in Dinosaur National Monument in Utah was originally built in 1958 as part of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 Program of modern architectural design in the US national parks. But that Visitor Center isn’t the one you’ll visit today.
In 2006, the Quarry Visitor Center at Dinosaur National Monument was closed. The building, which had known foundational problems only a few years after its completion in 1958, was finally declared structurally unstable, and unfit for visitors. Dinosaur National Monument had plans to restore the building, but due to a lack of funding, it remained closed.
Three years later, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed into law by President Obama, allotted the National Park Service $750 million, who then set aside $8.4 million for two new buildings at Dinosaur National Monument. The new Quarry Visitor Center and the Quarry Exhibit Hall were completed in 2011, and are open to the public year round.
Quarry Exhibit Hall At Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry
The Quarry Exhibit Hall at the Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry on the Utah side of Dinosaur National Monument showcases a Jurassic dinosaur fossil bed with 1500 dinosaur bones and fossils.
Carnegie Quarry, often called the wall of bones is the closest you will come to visiting the real Jurassic Park. The discovery of these dinosaur fossils deposited in an ancient river bed of the Jurassic era is what led to the 80 acre Dinosaur National Monument being established in 1915.
But how did so many dinosaur fossils end up in this rock formation that was once a sandbar on the edge of a large river? As the ancient river flowed downstream, it carried animal carcasses with it, many of which got stuck on the sandbar. Over time the sandbar turned to rock and as a result, fossils from hundreds of creatures are concentrated in one place.
Dinosaur National Monument sits in the middle of the Utah desert with absolutely no shade, and in the summer it is blazing hot. Thankfully, the modern, two-story, air conditioned Quarry Exhibit Hall, built right on top of the Wall Of Bones, makes it easy for families and visitors of all ages to comfortably view the 1,500 dinosaur bones from species like the Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodicus, Stegosaurus, and many more.
After being dropped off by the park shuttle, we entered the Quarry Exhibit Hall on the second floor, gazing down on the Wall Of Bones containing hundreds of dinosaur bones and skeletons. We then slowly made our way downstairs to get a closer look and check out museum exhibits and murals about the history and animals that lived in this area long ago. There are even opportunities to touch real 149 million year old dinosaur fossils.
Know Before You Go
The Quarry Visitor Center:
- The Quarry Visitor Center at Dinosaur National Monument is located seven miles north of Jensen, Utah off Highway 149 at 11625 E 1500 Street, Jensen, Utah 84035 in Uintah County.
- The Visitor Center features exhibits the variety of resources and places to explore within Dinosaur National Monument, a staffed information desk, a sales area for the Intermountain Natural History Association, and a theater with a twelve-minute park film.
- 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.
- The Quarry Visitor Center was added to the National Register Of Historic Places in 1986 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2001.
The Quarry Exhibit Hall:
- The Quarry Exhibit Hall located over the world-famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry is 0.25 miles from the Quarry Visitor Center.
- It is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:30 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.
- In the busy season, a shuttle bus takes visitors from the visitor center to the Dinosaur Quarry every 15 minutes from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. The last shuttle for the day leaves from the Quarry Exhibit Hall at 5:30 p.m. for the return trip to the visitor center. If you arrive between 8:00 and 9:15 am, you may drive your personal vehicle to the quarry. The access road closes to uphill traffic at 9:15 am.
- In the off season, access to the Quarry Exhibit Hall is by vehicle caravans at set times during the day. Visitors begin at the Quarry Visitor Center and drive their personal vehicle to the Quarry Exhibit Hall, following the ranger. Caravans depart the Quarry Visitor Center at 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, and 4:00 pm. If you arrive after a group has departed, you may have to wait approximately 1 hour before the next departure.
- Of the 5,000 dinosaur fossils that have been discovered in Carnegie Quarry, only 1,500 remain in the quarry wall today. The rest are featured in collections all over the world. Skeletons from Carnegie Quarry can bee seen in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C., and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
After visiting the Quarry Visitor Center and the Wall of Bones at the Quarry Exhibit Hall, be sure to grab a trail guide and drive Cub Creek Road on the self-guided Tour of The Tilted Rocks.