Dinosaur National Monument: Josie Bassett Morris Homestead

Josie Bassett Morris Homestead and Cabin at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah

After visiting the Quarry Visitor Center and Quarry Exhibit Hall to see the famous Wall Of Dinosaur Bones, we had stopped at the Swelter Shelter petroglyphs, another collection of Fremont petroglyphs, explored a bit by the Split Mountain Campgrounds and along the Green River, snapped photos at several scenic overlooks, and checked out some interesting rock formations — all in the blazing hot sun in 100 degree heat.

The last stop of the Tour Of The Tilted Rocks scenic drive in Dinosaur National Monument ends at the end of Cub Creek Road and the historic Josie Bassett Morris Homestead, and by the time we parked, we were all hot and sweaty and over the moon to find trees and shade and a cool breeze.

Josie Morris was a single, independent, self-sufficient rancher and evidence of 50 year life along Cub Creek can still be seen.

Here you can see:

  • Her recently rehabilitated cabin
  • An old chicken coop
  • Remnants of the irrigation system she developed
  • Fruit trees that were once part of her orchard

What was really fantastic is that Josie’s Cabin is open to visitors!

You can go inside, walk through the rooms, and imagine what it was like living in the small cabin without electricity or running water.

Also part of the homestead are two hiking trails: The Box Canyon Trail and the Hog Canyon Trail. We did the shorter Box Canyon Trail and not only was it a beautiful hike, but it was mostly shady and a cool breeze was blowing through the canyon almost the entire time.

About Josephine Bassett Morris

Josephine Bassett Morris, seeking solitude and beauty, settled in Cub Creek in 1914. She built several cabins on her homestead, the last being the one you can visit today, which was constructed in 1935. Married five times, Morris ultimately chose a single life, and over the years, she was accused but not convicted of cattle rustling twice and was an alleged associate of the outlaw Butch Cassidy.

Beneath the backdrop of Split Mountain, Josie provided for herself, living a 19th century lifestyle well into the 20th century.

She raised and butchered cattle, pigs, chickens, and geese, and used the eroding box canyons of Split Mountain — Box Canyon and Hog Canyon — as natural corrals for her livestock. She also canned the harvest from her large vegetable garden. Heat came from wood burning in the fireplace, water came from the spring, and there was no electricity, so light came from an oil lamp.

In 1964, while feeding her horse, Morris slipped on a patch of ice and broke her hip. Alone and without a phone to call for help, she dragged herself into the house where friends found her several days later. That spring she died at age 89 and her cabin and land became part of Dinosaur National Monument.

Know Before You Go

  • The Josie Bassett Morris Homestead is located 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.
  • Two easy trails leave from the Homestead: The Box Canyon Trail is a 0.5 mile round trip walk and the Hog Canyon Trail is about a 1.5 mile round trip walk. Both trails are fairly flat and partially shady, even during mid-day.
  • 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 Box Canyon Trail.
  • 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 Scenic Drive, but it took us almost three because we stopped at all 14 documented stops.
  • 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.
  • On the drive down Cub Creek Road and back, there will be many opportunities to get out and take short walks to get a closer look at the points of interest. Also, wildlife may occasionally be seen, including mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, prairie dogs, and many bird species.
  • 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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