After some fantastic days in Rocky mountain national park, it was time for the next destinations: Dinosaur National Monument and Salt Lake City! We had to go to Salt Lake City to pick up our new laptop (it was broken after 3 weeks and sent in for repair…). We also had to get some parts for the camper. Fortunately, we were able to break up the long drive with some nice camping spots and Dinosaur National Monument, where we saw and touched real dinosaur bones. You can also admire complete built-up skeletons of real dinosaurs, which lived here millions of years ago. So worth a visit.
Table of contents
The ultimate tour of North America
This article is part of a large one-year tour the United States en Canada in 2022, with a Dutch 4×4 camper that we shipped ourselves… It is a bucket list worthy and a once in a lifetime experience that will never be forgotten.
We wrote almost 100 articles about this ultimate tour. Below is a handy overview in 5 expandable categories.
2. Highlights & Itineraries
3. Cities & places of interest (AZ)
- Tour America | Amelia City
- Tour America | Amelia Island
- Tour America | Annapolis
- Tour America | Ice Lake Trail
- Tour America | Kennedy Space Centre
- Tour America | KeyWest
- Tour America | Miami
- Tour America | New York City
- Tour America | Ouray
- Tour America | Salt Lake City
- Tour America | Savannah
- Tour America | Seattle
- Tour America | Silverton
- Tour America | St Augustine
- Tour America | Washington DC
- Tour America | Wynwood
4. National Parks & Monuments (AZ)
- Tour America | All National Parks (list)
- Tour America | Black Canyon of the Gunnison
- Tour America | Death Valley
- Tour America | Dinosaur
- Tour America | Everglades
- Tour America | Glacier
- Tour America | Grand Teton
- Tour America | Great Sand Dunes
- Tour America | Mesa Verde
- Tour America | Rock Mountain
- Tour America | Yellowstone
- Tour America | Yosemite
5. Plan your vacation to America here
- Itineraries compare | TUI, Americaplus, sawadee en Djoser.
- Motorhome rental companies compare | WorldWideCampers.com
- Fly & drives compare | Americaplus.
- Cruises and city trips compare | Travel deal.
- Flight tickets compare | Skyscanner, TUI, KLM. as KAYAK.
- Rental cars compare | Sunnycars, Alamo en rental cars.
- Tours and Activities compare | GetYourGuide.
- Camping sites reservation| RECREATION.gov
- Hotels & Resorts reservation | Booking.com.
- SIM cards order | USAsim en International sim.
- Parking at airport | Parkos, Central parking of park care.
- travel items (suitcases, world plugs, etc.) | Bol.com.
From the Rockies to Salt Lake City
From the Rockies it was a tough drive to Salt Lake City so we decided to break it up into smaller pieces. We deliberately did not drive on Interstate 80, but on Highway 40. This road is less busy and there is more to see along the way. After a 6 hour drive we first stopped at Maybell Park, a small campsite in the middle of the seriously small town of Maybell. We paid $20 a night here. There were showers, toilets and even wifi!
We were the only ones on the campsite until a cyclist arrived. It was Arjun from San Francisco. He is on his way to Boston, where he will be moving. He covers the road to his new hometown with his bicycle. That is about 5300 km and with this it crosses at least twelve states from the west to the east coast. What a dick!
To Dinosaur National Monument
After two nice quiet nights at the campsite and the nice meeting, we drove on towards the desert, where the very unique Dinosaur National Monument is located. In a few hours the environment here changes from hilly green to a barren, flat desert. Watch the video below to drive a bit along the route with us.
On to Park City
After spending several hours at Dinosaur National monument, we continued on to Park City, about an hour east of Salt Lake City. Here we looked for a place to spend the night, so that we could cross the huge mountain pass (the Guardsman Pass) to the big city the next morning.
The guardsman pass is an extreme one, which you absolutely cannot drive with a large camper. Your car length may be a maximum of 18 ft, so 6 meters. And let ours be exactly 6 meters!
Tip:: Those with a vehicle larger than 18ft can reach Salt Lake City approximately 50 miles north of Guardsman Pass via Interstate 80.
So our camper can legally cross the pass. We decided to give it a shot and I can tell you it was quite intense. Some parts had a gradient of more than 20% and our camper had some trouble with it at times. More than once I had to go up in first (!) gear and take very tight turns, as seen in the video below. Every horsepower we had at our disposal proved to be necessary to tame this beast.
After you've braved the Guardsman Pass, you'll enter Salt Lake City in a unique way. Suddenly a completely different environment than that mountain pass! But before we talk about Salt Lake City in the next blog first a little about our experience at Dinosaur National Monument…
About Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument in the United States is located on the border between Colorado and Utah where the Green River and Yampa River meet.
Dinosaurs once roamed here. Their fantastic remains are still clearly visible in the rocks. It is one of the few places on earth where you can see real dinosaur fossils, from large to small. It is therefore a nice stopover if, like us, you are making miles through the states of Colorado and Utah.
The Discovery of Earl Douglass
In 1909 paleontologist Earl Douglass looking for fossils when he discovered a formation of dinosaur bones. Numerous bones were excavated and exhibited worldwide. A quarry was later established and in 1915 the Dinosaur National Monument was established to protect 80 acres in the quarry area. Today, the monument encompasses 210.844 hectares.
Fossils in a sandbank
Many fossils are embedded in what was once a sandbar on the edge of a large river. When the river carried animal carcasses downstream, many got stuck on the sandbar, which eventually turned to stone. As a result, fossils of hundreds of creatures are concentrated in a small area. Many fossilized bones have been partially exposed, but deliberately left intact in the rock where they are easily seen by the public. A building now known as “The Quarry” has been erected over the area at the memorial. Below are some photos from The Quarry.
The unique rock formations in this area provide a geological record of Earth's history spanning billions of years. Part of the mission of the national monument is to understand that history.
Of course there is also a lot of information about the dinosaurs that were found in the stone.
They found an Allosaurus here, among other things. In fact, this skeleton turns out to be one of the most complete flesh-eating dinosaur skeletons ever found. He is proudly displayed here, partly still in the stone in which he was found.
It's crazy to think that you're not sitting here looking at a piece of plastic, but actually a dinosaur skeleton, which emptied here millions of years ago. The shape of its head is easy to see and the teeth are still terrifying after all these years.
Incidentally, several skeletons have been set up in the hall. One even more beautiful than the other. They have also half excavated a few heads and put them on display so that you can admire them up close.
It is wonderful to admire the real fossils and bones with a representation of what nature looked like back then. It really does take you back in time.
Just before you walk out of the hall there is, of course, another impressive exhibit of a large, terrifying dinosaur. This is a replica of plastic, but that doesn't make it any less beautiful.
Dinosaur National Monument is a nice stopover if you happen to be traveling between Rocky Mountain National Park and Salt Lake City. It is a small park where you can spend several hours and learn a lot about dinosaurs in a short time. It is also one of the few places in the world where you can actually see dinosaur bones where they were found.
We did not walk in the park, because we were passing through, but the trails here must be very beautiful. You will also encounter plenty of fossils and dinosaur bones on the trails. If you have the time, a walk is absolutely worth it.
Whoever has a National Park Pass gets free access to this national monument. Both The Quarry and the park for walking are included in the pass, so take advantage!
Plan your vacation to America here
- Itineraries : TUI, Americaplus, sawadee en Djoser.
- Motorhome rental companies : WorldWideCampers.com
- Fly & drives : Americaplus en Travelworld.
- Cruises and city trips for America you book with Travel deal.
- Flight tickets for America you book with TUI, KLM, KAYAK en Skyscanner.
- Rental cars : Sunnycars, Alamo en rental cars.
- Tours and Activities in America you book via GetYourGuide.
- Camping sites in National Parks you book on RECREATION.gov
- Hotels & Resorts in America you book with Booking.com.
- SIM cards : USAsim en International sim.
- Parking at the airport you can arrange via Parkos, park care of iParking.
- travel items (suitcases, bags, world plugs, etc. can be ordered at Bol.com.