Cozy Up To A Dinosaur And Camp: Dinosaur National Monument
At a loose end in the middle of Colorado, land of Rockies, peaks, valleys, altitude, canyons and rivers? Land of nothing? That’s what it can seem like as you drive along Route 40 westward from Steamboat Springs CO or eastward from Vernal UT. Dinosaur National Monument Utah-Colorado is in the middle of nowhere, but, oh, so worth the trip.
Dinosaur National Monument Utah-Colorado
Might be out there, but there’s plenty to do and enjoy! In fact, you may need to spend 3+ nights in this area just to get a glimpse of all the possibilities amongst those strange ridges and sand piles, land of dinosaurs.
Camping at Dinosaur National Monument Utah-Colorado
Natch, Muddy Boots has been there, done that, and offers up this little gem of a campground, quite in the thick of things, though convincingly out of Colorado and just into Utah or vice versa. It’s hard to be precise about border crossings when out adventuring. But, here it is, the Green River Campground.
Where are we going exactly?
Let’s be clear where the Green River Campground is so you don’t go looking for it in all the wrong places, owing to the attractions of several other campgrounds which may appear convenient at first glance at the map, but tend to require long-distance drives in what could complimentarily be described as “the tulies”. Sometimes an adventure requires a little too much adventuring, especially when you factor in dirt tracks and seasonal flooding. IMBHO.
Green River is not as extreme as it might be. In fact, it’s quite civilized: only 12 miles from the nearest town, Jensen UT, and 5 from the nearest tourist facility, namely one of the Dinosaur National Monument Visitor Centers. And it’s well-situated to explore dinosaur bones and petroglyphs. Then blend in some exercise, ranger talks, and star-gazing.
So far so good.
Some words to the wise
[Aside: 62 plussers having many wise thoughts in general and Muddy Boots many words in particular].
Get there before darkness sets in. It can be very dark at night, a major positive for stargazers, but not especially convenient for choosing a camp spot. The National Park Service captures the general concept:
“Dinosaur National Monument is one of the darkest places remaining in the United States.”
Bear in mind that the accompanying graph offered thereat as quantitative illustration of the relative degree of blackness at Dinosaur NM is also testimony to the remarkable factoid that the rangers here are the geekiest Muddy Boots has ever encountered. Be it said that this is both fun and amazing.
Back to camp spot selection. Do NOT under any conditions pull up next to the battered ice cream van camping-mobile, especially when hippies emerge with a trampoline. Getting high, much?
Also, don’t for a moment even consider taking an evening meander along the river after you’ve prepared your picnic dinner with the essential Spaghetti-os, bean salad, and chocolate cake. By the time you get back, your dinner may be half eaten and your red-check tablecloth may be grubbied up by hoppity-hop marks. That’s because the hundreds of marauding resident rabbits are intrigued by campers or rather—Muddy Boots is making an effort at precision—their gourmet limited-budget delicacies.
On this same theme, you’ll want a receptacle for used dishwater, glop, crumbs, and all. It will be efficiently emptied in the designated drain near the restroom.
Speaking of which, the bathroom facilities are rudimentary and not intended for a whole lot of traffic (having evidently been constructed in yesteryear like Muddy Boots).
All that darkness during the night? This can translate into excessive sun and heat during the day, and many spots have no overhanging trees. Be sure to pack a picnic table shade to keep your brain from frying.
On the subject of eating, comestibles, groceries, and ice are not exactly local. Bring everything you need and don’t anticipate supply outlets in Dinosaur or Jensen. Leave Jensen with plenty of gas.
And you have an empty gallon water container, correct? Running water at Green River Campground is located at the restroom faucet and will need to be schlepped to your camp spot. This is hard to do with cupped hands.
As of this writing, the NPS Senior Pass price per camping spot was $6 per night. What’s not to like? The bunnies?
Great side trip
Photo credits for Dinosaur National Monument Utah-Colorado. Featured image and top, Dinosaur National Monument, Green and Yampa Rivers: Public Domain via Wikimedia. Green River Campground from above: CC BY 2.0 by Andrey Zharkikh via Flickr. Green River Campground with RV’s: Public Domain NPS. Milky Way over Mitten Park: CC BY by Dan Duriscoe via National Park Service. Green River Campground tent camping: CC BY-SA 2.0 by Mia and Steve Mestdagh via Flickr. Desert Bunny: CC BY 2.0 by Sam Howzit via Flickr.