On the border between Colorado and Utah, there’s a special place that’s home to extensive collections of dinosaur fossils and primitive pictographs.
Dinosaur National Monument is an area that’s certainly worth a visit, and there’s so much to see and do. Here’s what to explore on the Colorado side.
Here’s what the National Parks Service has to say about the area:
“Dinosaur National Monument contains famous fossil finds, dramatic river canyons, intriguing petroglyphs, and endless opportunities for adventure. Whether you delight in the challenge of a strenuous hike to spectacular views, the thrill of rafting through a twisting canyon, or sitting quietly and watching the sun set, Dinosaur National Monument offers a myriad of activities for you to enjoy. The hardest part may be choosing which auto tour, trail, overlook, or historic area to explore!”
We’ll echo that sentiment — there’s so much to do here, and choosing which activities to try can be tricky.
Hiking in this part of Colorado is certainly unique, and it’s a great place to kick off the hiking season if you visit durindg the springtime.
On the Colorado side, your easiest hike options are the Cold Desert Trail (.5 mile loop) and the Plug Hat Trail (¼ mile loop). Cold Desert Trail begins at the Canyon Visitor Center and offers a pleasant introduction to the area, while Plug Hat Trail has some stunning vistas to take in just five miles down the road.
Harper’s Corner Trail kicks things up a notch, clocking in at 3-miles round trip. You’ll get some lovely views of the Green River, too.
If you’re game for some more mileage, try the Ruple Point Trail, a 9.5 mile out-and-back hike. As you near the end of the trail you’ll get excellent views of Split Mountain Canyon and the Green River 2,500 feet below.
There are 6 campgrounds in the monument, and 3 are on the Colorado side:
Gates of Lodore: If you want access to a boat ramp for explorations of the Green River, this campground is a good option.
Echo Park: This campground has fantastic views of Steamboat Rock and the surrounding cliffs.
Deerlodge Park: There are 7 walk-in campsites here that are perfect for tents, and you’ll be right by the river.
Backcountry camping in Dinosaur National Monument is also permitted if you grab a free permit before heading out. You’ll have to bring plenty of water and should feel comfortable with your backcountry skills. This is a remote slice of desert wilderness, so plan accordingly.