Utah Field House
of Natural History State Park
Vernal, Utah 84078
|The Utah Field House of Natural History, located in downtown Vernal, is a showcase for eastern Utah geologic and natural history. This state park includes a unique dinosaur garden and an excellent museum.
The dinosaur garden, features 17 life-size, prehistoric animal replicas in their natural setting, lining the garden paths. The museum adjacent to the garden, offers geologic and natural history displays of the Uinta Mountain-Uinta Basin region.
Rates & Fees
- $5.00 - Day-use Fee
- $15.00 - Five-Day Pass allows day-use entrance to most Utah state parks for 5 consecutive days.
- $50.00 - Single Park Permit allows the cardholder and up to 7 guests in the same private vehicle day-use entrance into Utah Field House of Natural History State Park. The permit is valid for the current calendar year.
Seasons / Hours
The Park is open all year but closed January 1, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, December 24-25 and 31.
Open 8 am to 9 pm June through August, 9 am to 5 pm the rest of the year.
- The Visitor Center, in the museum, contains drinking water , modern restrooms and a group pavilion.
Geography & Climate
Location & Setting
- This state park is located on 2 acres in northeastern Utah's Vernal, at an elevation of 5,300 feet. It is strategically situated between the Uinta Mountains -- the largest, single, east-west-trending mountain range in the Western Hemisphere-- and the Uinta Basin -- a petroleum-rich inter mountain valley. Together, these 2 natural features encompass 3 billion years of earth history. Their fossil record covers 600 million years and includes all forms of life from primitive algae to highly evolved mammals.
Climate & Weather
The monument is located in a Cold Desert region, characterized by low humidity, hot summer days, with occasional violent afternoon thunder storms; summer evenings are cool because skies are clear and there are no moderating large bodies of water nearby. Most moisture falls as winter snow, and winter temperatures are often cold.
- By 1870, the Uinta Basin was known for its abundant vertebrate fossils when O.C. Marsh from Yale University first identified Eocene (35-45 million years old) mammals. In 1909, Earl Douglass of the newly-formed Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, PA, discovered fossil dinosaur remains near Split Mountain, 20 miles east of Vernal. This discovery, one of the world's best concentrations of dinosaur fossils, is now part of Dinosaur National Monument.
- Rather than lose the prehistoric wealth of the area to eastern universities and museums, Arthur G. Nord and other community members formulated the idea of a field house. In 1945, the Utah legislature established the Utah Field House of Natural History to house and display "the fossil remains of ancient plant and animal life and other objects of natural history." The field house subsequently became a Utah state park.
Things To Do
- A picnic area is located behind the museum.
Dinosaur Garden Tour
Step back in time as you walk through the dinosaur garden. Look up to a full-size replica of a 20-foot tall Tyrannosaurus with 6-inch knife-like teeth, or look down on a ferocious 4-foot, meat-eating Coelophysis.
The dinosaur garden contains a swamp area, rock area, small lake and a waterfall. 17 sculptures, most of which are actual life-size dinosaurs are found along the trail that leads through each area. Sculptor Ebert Porter created the models, which were acquired by the state of Utah in 1977. A group of 3 concrete dinosaurs by sculptor Millard F. Malin completes the outside display.
During the summer, evening lectures are held in the garden amphitheater.
The Utah Field House of Natural History Museum features ancient fossil skeletal reproductions, archaeological and geological exhibits, fluorescent minerals and other natural history aspects of the Uinta Mountains and Uinta Basin. It also offers exhibits on eastern Utah history, dinosaur fossils, American Indian artifacts and one of the best geology displays anywhere.
In addition to exhibits, the museum maintains a specimen collection for future displays, educational programs and research. The museum houses a small gift shop, science reference library and a classroom.
Camping & Lodging
There are hotels and motels in Vernal with something for every taste and price range. For more information and a complete list. Click Here. (Rates, availability and reservation online)
There is no camping in the state park, camping is available at Steinaker and Red Fleet state parks, just north of the Vernal.
Resources & Nearby Attractions
Cities & Towns
- Vernal, Utah: Park is within Vernal.
- Duchesne, Utah: 58 miles west.
- Provo, Utah: 122 miles northwest.
- Roosevelt, UT: 40 miles west.
- Craig, Colorado: 93 miles east.
Parks & Monuments
- Dinosaur National Monument: 20 miles east.
- Steinaker State Park: 5 miles north.
- Red Fleet State Park: 10 miles north.
- John Jarvie Historic Ranch: 42 miles north.
- Starvation State Park: 63 miles west.
- Recreation & Wilderness Areas
- Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area: 35 miles north.
- High Uintas Wilderness Area: 75 miles west.
- Ashley National Forest: 10 miles north.
- Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge: 35 miles north.
Historic & Points of Interest
- Uintah & Ouray Indian Reservation: Various locations nearby.
- Western Heritage Museum: (Vernal) 435-789-7399.
- Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery: (40 miles northeast) 435-789-4481.
- Triassic Period Dinosaur Trackway: (Red Fleet State Park) 435-789-4432.