Image above: Rock Walk trail at Jurassic National Monument. Courtesy Bureau of Land Management.
Spotlight on Lesser Known History
Jurassic National Monument, Utah
America's Best History Spotlight
On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
Jurassic National Monument, Utah
On March 12, 2019, what used to be known as Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry jumped the proverbial dinosaur when President Trump announced its status had been elevated, along with four others (Camp Nelson, Mill Springs Battlefield, Medgar and Myrtle Evers Home, and St. Francis Dam Disaster), to National Monument designation. That was somewhat of a surprise, as the President had been less than stellar in his approach to national lands to most, but the addition of this park, with its paleontological history dating back to those prehistoric dinosaur days, was warranted and well worth the new designation. It will be administered by the Bureau of Land Management, not the National Park Service, with an already built and established visitor center, trails, and tours into quarry world. Yes, you'll see dinosaur bones and where they came from, and if that's what you like, there's plenty at Jurassic and other sites along the Colorado and Utah Dinosaur Diamond National Scenic Byway. Photo above: Dinosaur exhibit inside the Visitor Center at Jurassic National Monument. Courtesy Bureau of Land Management.
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Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
Jurassic National Monument, Utah
How large is the monument and what's been found in its dinosaur bones quarry? Two thousand, five hundred, and forty-three acres. Seventy-four dinosaurs found, including a Stegosaur in the Visitor Center. Twelve thousand separate bones and a dinosaur egg. Seventy-five percent of those bones from carnivores, which is still a mystery to the scientists who uncovered them since 1927 and still study them. Which carnivore is most prevalent? Allosaurus fragilis for those that know what that means.
Remember, this is hot Utah, so be prepared with the right clothes, sunscreen, and liquid when you hike or visit here. No, the dinosaurs no longer bite.
Image above: Dig inside building at Jurassic National Monument. Courtesy Bureau of Land Management. Below: Visitor Center. Courtesy Bureau of Land Management.
Where Is It
The Jurrasic National Monument is located thirty-three miles south of Price, Utah off Route 10 in an area known as the San Rafael Swell and near the Utah version of Cleveland. Follow the signs from the highway. The park is remote with not many facilities or lodging nearby, so have plenty of gas and bring some food. The closest town is Cleveland, ten or so miles away, and that town has under five hundred people. Closest lodging is in Wellington, fifteen miles from Cleveland, or further away in Price. Manti La Sal National Forest is a possibility for camping, but not too close either.
Where is it in relation to Moab? It's just short of one hundred and fifty miles away.
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What is There Now
The designated monument is 2,543 acres large (some reports state 850 acres so we're not sure which is correct), with walking trails and a Visitor Center with exhibits and orientation, which also extend into a second structure known as the Quarry Building. It is administered by the Bureau of Land Management.
There are picnic areas and self-guided walking trails, too. Drinking water is also available.
When Open and How Much
Jurassic National Monument is normally open early April until the end of October on Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults, under 16 free.
Fees subject to change.
Jurassic National Monument
Dinosaur Diamond National Scenice Byway
Manti La Sal National Forest
There's plenty here along the Dinosaur Diamond National Scenic Byway to see both in paleontology terms, or just those spectacular Utah national parks of arches and vistas and recreation. We'll cover some of the paleontology sites along the byway below, but suffice it to say, you'll have plenty of things to see, just not enough time.
Photos, History, and More Spotlights
History of the Site
There was little known of the site through the end of the 19th century with European settlement in the area sparse, only sheepherders and cattlemen who would graze through the quarry. In 1927, F.F. Hintze, from the Geology Department of the University of Utah led a team into the quarry and collected eight hundred bones, but investigation into the quarry would lag until a team from Princeton, led by William Lee Stokes, and financed by Malcolm Lloyd, returned in 1939 and spent three summers in what would be known as the Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry from that point forward. They retrieved twelve hundred bones.
World War II would halt the progress of its study, and what is thought to be the first Allosaurus fragilis skeleton from the site was not mounted at Princeton University until 1961. Its still there in Guyat Hall.
Image above: Landscape at Jurassic National Monument. Courtesy Bureau of Land Management.
Visitation and Park Status
When work continued at the site in 1960, it was financed by the University of Utah and a private company known as Dinolab. They would expand the discoveries to more than twelve thousand bones, many of which are housed today at the Utah Museum of Natural History.
The site was designated a Natural National Landmark in October 1965. The Bureau of Land Management opened its first visitor center anywhere, at the site in 1968. A new visitor center was dedicated on April 28, 2007 and today will serve as the Visitor Center of the newly designated Jurassic National Monument.
Photo above: Old sign directing visitors to the Cleveland Loyd Dinosaur Quarry, 1981, John Margolies Roadside America photograph archive. Courtesy Library of Congress.
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Dinosaur Diamond National Scenic Byway
There's a whole lot more dinosaur related history in this region of Utah and neighboring Colorado. So much so, that following the trail of the Dinosaur Diamond National Scenic Byway will take you to a whole range of paleontological sites. There are spectacular specimens at Dinosaur National Monument, plus sister National Park Service sites of Arches, Canyonlands, Colorado National Monument, and Natural Bridges National Monument.
Other sites, perhaps lesser known outside the area of this five hundred and twelve mile prehistoric themed highway are Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, which is part of Ashley National Forest, and a plethora of interesting museums. In Vernal, there's the Utah Field House of Natural History, Western Heritage Museum, and the Red Fleet Dinosaur Trackway. In Green River, get some John Wesley Powell history in a river museum of the same name. In Moab, there's the Moab Museum; in Fruita, the Museum of Western Colorado Dinosaur Journey. The Cross Orchard Living History Museum and the Museum of Western Colorado are located in Grand Junction.
Some of this path also has a history origin as part of the Old Spanish Trail, a trade route established, or at least named, in the 1844 report of the expedition of John Fremont for the U.S. Topographical Corps. It was led by Kit Carson.
Photo Above: Petroglyphs from Fremont culture at Dinosaur National Monument. Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
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Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Archives, National Park Service, americasbesthistory.com and its licensors.