Dinosaurs, Caves, and the Salt Flats in Utah

At the northwest corner of Colorado, we passed through the town of Dinosaur and crossed into Utah.  Our destination was Dinosaur National Monument.  This park, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, is known for the fossil quarry wall, a large rock face, protected in a building, with over 500 in situ fossil dinosaur bones.   The site was a fossil dig for the Carnegie Museum from 1909-1915, when it was designated a National Monument.  We had visited several years ago, when Boy was just 5, but at that time, the quarry wall was closed while the building structure around it was repaired.  This time we were glad to see the entire rock face with all the bones.  Boy completed another Jr. Ranger book for his schoolwork of the day and collected another badge.

   
 
Visitors Center

   
The fossil quarry wall

 
A reconstructed skeleton

  
 Our Dinosaur Books

Continuing through Utah, we reached the American Fork Canyon, about an hour outside of Salt Lake City.  Here, Mount Timpanogos rises over the Wasatch mountain range.  Dad had suggested a cave tour at Timpanogos Cave  National Monument letting us know it was a bit of a hike, about 1 1/2 miles on a paved trail to get to the cave entrance.  We were up for a walk, after two days in the car, so off we went.  What Dad neglected to mention is the trail, while paved and smooth, is up the side of the mountain, gaining 1000 feet of elevation in that 1 1/2 miles.  By the time we reached the top, we were recalling our last mountain hike in the city of Cusco, and our muscles were protesting.  The cave tour was worth it, and had some impressive underground rock formations, including the rare, curved helictites, but our legs felt the hike the next day.  Boy completed, yet another, Jr. ranger book, and collected a patch for his efforts. 

   

Inside the cave

  
Trail warning 

 
Our reading choice of the day, and another Jr. Ranger book

Our final stop in Utah was right at the Nevada border.  We had a chance to observe the Bonneville Salt Flats, large, flat, stretches of desert, covered in salt from evaporated ancient seas.

   

The flats



 

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