Saturday, June 26, 2010
The Glorious Road, Day 8 & 9: Dinosaurs and Heading Home
After a beautiful wedding the night before and a great breakfast in Estes Park, my husband and I packed up for our final days on the road. We made our way back through the Rockies to Dinosaur National Monument, which covers both parts of Colorado and Utah. We past the Colorado entrance and made our way to the Fossil Quarry entrance in Utah.
We camped at Green River Campground, which was only 12 dollars a night and probably the nicest place we have camped so far. There was running water and even electrical outlets in the bathrooms (we thought about charging our phones, but thought that it might be weird), and our site was well shaded by ground cover and cottonwood trees. They don't take reservations, but on a Saturday night it wasn't full, and there are a few other spots to camp in the park.
There was a sandy path straight to the river, where we looked at river rocks while watching the swallows swoop and dive for insects. There were a lot of mosquitoes, however, so we had to put bug spray on for the first time in our trip. Although we had slept well in our cottage in Estes Park, I fell asleep as the sun was setting, tired from the excitement of the wedding and thankful to finally be at a reasonable altitude.
The next morning we rose early and packed up the car, eager to check out some petroglyphs and fossils. It is a good idea to bring a map with you as you explore the park (you can get one at the visitors center, which is open from 8:30 to 4:30) because it is fairly spread out. The petroglyphs we saw were some of the most creative and intact ones I've ever seen, but you do have to drive down a dirt road to get to the nice ones.
The fossil discovery trail has been created to make up for the closed visitor center in the park. You take a shuttle from the temporary visitor center to the trailhead, where you hike to one of the sites and a ranger takes you through all the bones that are being excavated. The ranger was incredibly helpful, and it was really fun looking for bones in the rock face. There is also another trail leading to the Stump site, where tons of fossil impressions of stump clams cover chunks of sandstone. If you look at the rocks that mark out the trail, you will see tons of petrified wood.
The shuttle to fossil discovery trail only runs from 8:30-12:30, so make sure and plan your trip accordingly.
After looking at dino bones, we got in the car and made our way across Utah, past the Great Salt Lake and into Nevada. The salt flats and lake are really desolate, and both my husband and I got a little nutty while traveling over them.
We camped that night at Rye Patch State Recreation Area, which was kind of a strange spot. We camped at the tent sites, which were in one big fenced off area. There was some nice tree cover, however, and we set up our tent against a hillside as an extra shelter against the wind. Camping was 14 dollars a night, but there was no running water and only a single pit toilet (very clean, however) in the tent area. The RV/pop-up area looked much nicer, but it was very crowded. We had the tent area to ourselves, which was nice. We woke up the next morning with our tent covered in honeysuckle flowers, blown in from the top of the hill.
We made it home safe and sound, driving through the Sierras in construction and heavy traffic. We were so glad to be home, and our kitties were very happy to see us. Our younger cat, Inka, gained a ton of weight while we were gone, and is now positively fat (she has been put on a diet, and is slowly losing the tubbage). Overall, an excellent and beautiful trip!