Dinosaur National Monument is open year round offering a variety of activities. A variety of longer talks and guided walks are offered each day throughout the park during the summer. These programs, designed to get you into the most interesting parts of the park, are fun and deal with the natural and cultural history of the park. Evening talks are presented at the Green River Campground most nights during summer.
Hiking, camping and backpacking are popular activities. Concessionaires provide river rafting and bicycle trips. Although there are few formal trails, prior planning with a detailed map is a very rewarding way to get away from the crowd and experience some spectacular country. Trail and auto guides for the below can be purchased before your visit so that you are familiar with them. Phone (800) 845-DINO to order.
Because of paved roads and visitor interests, it is not uncommon for summer visitation at the Dinosaur Quarry to exceed 1,000 people each day, while several miles away, petroglyph sites and old homesteads on dirt roads receive only a few hundred visitors. Jones Hole and Harpers Corner have similar conditions. From late autumn until spring the Harpers Corner Road, at elevations above 7,000 feet, is normally closed because of snow. Trailers or RVs should not be taken on the Echo Park or Yampa Bench Road.
There are two self-guided, surfaced road tours (tour guide booklets are available at visitor centers or beside the road at the start of the tour).
- Tour of the Tilted Rocks, near Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center, is a 17-mile round-trip drive that exposes the complexity and beauty of Dinosaur. The drive takes 1-2 hours and will guide you to prehistoric petroglyph sites, to a nature trail, to up-turned scenery of Cub Creek, and to the shaded, cool, historic Morris homestead.
- Journey Through Time, near Monument Headquarters Visitor Center, is a 62-mile round-trip drive along the Harpers Corner Road that takes you up and across the beautiful Blue Mountain Plateau. The drive takes 2-4 hours and will guide you along a gently winding paved road to spectacular scenic overlooks, to several nature trails, to picnic grounds and to the steep unpaved Echo Park Road that drops into Echo Park and the Yampa Bench, the heart of the park (not passable when wet). If you hike Ruple Point Trail or drive down to Echo Park, plan to spend the entire day. The Harpers Corner Road is the entrance into the canyon backcountry of the park.
Biking is becoming a more popular forms of touring in the park. Bicycles are restricted to roads but, given the variety of roads and conditions, this form of transportation is also on the increase.
Although there are few formal trails, prior planning with a detailed map is a very rewarding way to get away from the crowd and experience some spectacular country.
Self-Guiding Nature Trails
- Desert Voices Nature Trail: Close to the Dinosaur Quarry, 1-1/2 miles long, moderate difficulty. Trail is an introduction to issues and management of Dinosaur N.M. and has trail signs for kids, by kids.
- Sound of Silence Route: Close to the Dinosaur Quarry, 3 miles long, high difficulty. Learn to find routes and properly hike in the desert, experience silence.
- Cold Desert Trail: Is a Monument Headquarters, 1/2 mile long, and easy. Trail is an introduction to flora and fauna of the cold desert sagebrush community.
- Plug Hat Trail: Along Harpers Corner Road, 1/4 mile in length and easy. Trail is an introduction to flora and fauna of the pinion-juniper community and offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
- Harpers Corner Trail: At the end of Harpers Corner Road, 1 1/2 mile in length, moderate difficulty. Trail is an introduction to dramatic geologic features and a breathtaking view of the canyons of the Green and Yampa rivers.
- Gates of Lodore Trail: At the end of the campground at Gates of Lodore, 1 mile in length and is easy. Trail offers spectacular views of the river gorge and introduces some of the plants and geology of the area.
Backpacking, horse packing, and backcountry camping requires a free backcountry permit. These are available at Monument Headquarters and the Dinosaur Quarry.
River use, by commercial and private river runners, is not possible when the river is iced over in winter. Use begins to climb as the days warm. In late season, around July, the Yampa River receives little use. It is the only major free flowing tributary of the Colorado River System. Because its flow is not regulated by dams, there is not enough water for boats in the later summer months. The Green River season extends through the fall because water releases from Flaming Gorge Dam upstream are regulated and adequate for boating. Water release from the dam may favor extending the boating season, but the changed flow patterns have threatened many components of the ecosystem.Concessionaires provide river rafting and bicycle trips.
River Trips, Boating
Fees and non-commercial river permits are required for private white water river trips on the Green and Yampa rivers within the park. For information on fees, equipment and experience requirements, and how to apply for the permit lottery, call (970) 374-2468.
Vehicle and passenger shuttle service is available from Wilkins Bus Lines (801) 789-2476. Vehicle shuttle service is available from River Runners Transport (801) 781-1120. Passenger shuttle service is available from T-Rex Taxi (801) 790-7433.
Private boating on the Green
and Yampa Rivers within the monument requires a permit. Due to
the popularity, applications for most permits are
accepted November 1 through February 1. For
more information, contact the River Office at (970)
374-2468 between 8:00 a.m. and noon, Monday to
Fishing in the monument requires an appropriate
state license and state fishing regulations apply.
Swimming in the rivers is strongly discouraged due
to cold water and strong currents.
The following companies
are authorized to provide one-day trips through Split Mountain Canyon in Dinosaur
- Adrift Adventures: 800-824-0150
- Don Hatch River
The following companies are authorized to provide
multi-day river trips through the canyons of Dinosaur National Monument.
- Adrift Adventures: 800-824-0150
- Adventure Bound: 800-423-4668
- American River Touring Association: 800-323-2782
- Dinosaur River Expeditions: 800-345-RAFT
- Don Hatch River Expeditions: 800-342-8243
- Eagle Outdoor Sports: 801-451-7238
- Holiday Expeditions: 800-624-6323
- National Outdoor Leadership School: 307-332-6973
- Outdoor Adventure River Specialistts (OARS):
- Outward Bound West: 720-497-2400
- Sheri Griffith Expeditions: 435-259-8229