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Put Some Spring In Your Step
Dinosaur National Monument has three distinct access roads on Utah's west side of the park. The southwest side with an entrance station and the Quarry visitor center has paved roads, for the most part and a guidebook with designated stops for the common tourist to get the most out of a day trip. The west side access of the Monument has no entrance station and is a backcountry adventure. There are absolutely no services of any kind once you start this backcountry adventure. Along the way if you follow this guide you will hike approximately 3 miles total. The backroads described here are about 45 miles round trip. The route starts out paved but quickly turns to gravel and then dirt. Don’t even think about doing this if rain is forecast. The road will be impassable.
After driving about nine miles in you will notice the rocks around you tilted on end. Watch for varnished rock and look for petroglyphs. You’ll have to hunt for them. Binoculars will be a plus. None of the sites are marked so watch carefully both sides of the road and explore when you discover them. At 14.5 miles take note of the varnished rock on your left. There is a pull out here with a sign " petroglyphs ". This is the McKee Spring area. There is a well established hiking loop here up to several world class petroglyph panels. Continuing on 2 more miles there is a turnoff to Rainbow Park. This is a very small campground with four tent sites and tables on the shore of the Green River. Great place for a picnic lunch. Returning to the main road and continuing east another 5 miles is the Island Park overlook. Nice views of islands created by the Green River and accessible only if you are on the River. You can continue on for 3 more miles to Ruple Ranch and explore the old homestead cabin. The views in this area are incredible. On the way back you can take note of Split Mountain, where the Green River has eroded the mountain over the millennia and now flows thru the Split Mountain Canyon.
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