When visiting Dinosaur National Monument on our summer road trip, we were ready for a day filled with dinosaurs, and as we drove through Vernal, Utah to get there, we saw a big collection of awesome dinosaur statues that made us do a double take! The dinosaurs are part of the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum, which is a must do for families visiting Dinosaurland in Utah.
We only had one day to explore Vernal, Utah on our way to Rocky Mountain National Park, so we arrived at Dinosaur National Monument right when it opened. After wandering through the Quarry Visitor Center and checking out the massive Wall Of Bones at the Quarry Exhibit Hall, we did the Tour Of The Tilted Rocks scenic drive, stopping to see petroglyphs at Swelter Shelter, stunning views of Split Mountain And Green River, the awesome rock formations Turtle Rock and Elephant Toes Butte, the ancient Fremont Petroglyphs, the Josie Morris Homestead, and Box Canyon Trail.
It was a 100 degree day and after all that, we were sort of wiped out. Then we remembered the dinosaurs at Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum and the fact that the museum was mostly indoors with air conditioning, and we were sold.
Located in the heart of the Uinta Basin and Dinosaurland, the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum in Vernal is a 22,000 square foot museum that preserves and reveals the local prehistoric world.
At this awesome museum, you get to discover the prehistoric world and explore the world of paleontology by interacting with hands-on exhibits, digging for fossils, touching real dinosaur bones, walking an interactive timeline, seeing dinosaur skeletons and ancient fossils, and experiencing the Dinosaur Garden.
When we arrived, we stopped by the gift shop and information desk to get the lay of the land, but were distracted and captivated by a giant dinosaur skeleton!
At the entrance, the museum’s giant central rotunda houses a giant Diplodocus skeleton, measuring 90 feet long. This dinosaur lived throughout the West at the end of the Jurassic Period, between 154 million and 152 million years ago.
Three other dinosaur skeletons are on display in the museum, including:
- Allosaurus: a smaller version of the Tyrannosaurus Rex that is about 28 feet in length. It was the top predator of the region, ruling from 155 million and 150 million years ago.
- Stegosaurus: This heavily armored dinosaur, with a tiny head in comparison to its huge body, lived during the late Jurassic period between 155 million and 150 million years ago throughout the West and parts of Europe.
- Brontotherium: Also known as Megacerops, this giant rhinoceros-looking creature roamed the plains of North America between 38 and 30 million years ago. It was about 16 feet long, weighed between 1 and 2 tons, and had two blunt horns on the end of its snout.
What was really great at about this natural history museum, is that there is a perfect route through all of the exhibits, that easily takes you past everything you want to see from start to finish. Also, we were really impressed with the quality of the exhibits and displays.
After finishing up inside, of course we couldn’t leave without walking through the outdoor Dinosaur Garden for some fun photos! The museum’s Dinosaur Garden is a prehistoric zoo of full-size replicas ranging in age from Pennsylvanian through Pleistocene. It includes a 20 foot Tyrannosaurus, a horned Triceratops, six-ton Stegosaurus, winged Pteranodon, and other full-size prehistoric animal replicas.
About Natural History Museum
For decades scientists from around the world have come to the numerous dinosaur dig sites surrounding Vernal to study and collect findings from times long past. The Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum was opened in 1948 to showcase a selection of these local findings and share the helpful knowledge gained here with the public.
This museum is an excellent complement to Dinosaur National Monument as it provides additional information and stories about the creatures that used to live in the Vernal area, their surroundings, and the ever-changing landscape.
Know Before You Go
- Located approximately 175 miles east of Salt Lake City, the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum is also the official Vernal Information Center, a free visitor center where you can get all the necessary information to explore Dinosaurland and the Vernal area.
- The Utah Field House of Natural History Museum is located at 496 East Main Street, Vernal, Utah 84078-2605, on the corner of Main Street (US Highway 40) and 500 East in Uintah County.
- The museum is open daily Monday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- Admission is $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for children and seniors. Children 5 and under are free.
- The Utah Field House features exhibits that preserve and reveal the wealth of Earth’s geologic history found within the Uinta Basin and really cool dinosaur statues, fossils, skeletons, interactive archaeological exhibits, and more!
- Don’t miss the outdoor Dinosaur Garden! Giant life-size dinosaur statues stand among plants and water features, making it a fantastic photo opportunity!