Dinosaur National Monument, the Outlaw Country scenic drive, and the Moonshine Arch are three places to try to visit just outside of Vernal, Utah. The Dinosaur National Monument is a national park located on the border of Utah and Colorado and covers 210,000 acres. The Quarry Visitor Center is located in Jensen, which is southeast of Vernal, Utah. Shuttle buses will take visitors to the Quarry Exhibit Hall where you will see a wall of nearly 1,500 dinosaur bones. A few of the 149 million year old fossils are identified permitting you to touch them, while others can be viewed from several feet away. The National Park offers scenic drives, and walking trails. If you are traveling with pets, be sure to be familiar where pets are permitted. Pets at Dinosaur National Monument
Outlaw Country scenic drive is an approximately 85 miles loop that travels through some of the most picturesque parts of the country. Be sure to have a full tank of gas and carry plenty of water. You will be traveling through Crouse Canyon, Brown’s Park, Jarvie Historic Ranch, and Jessie Ewing Canyon. Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch and other noted outlaws were known to stay in this remote area. The Jarvie Ranch has been historically reconstructed. Crouse Canyon with its red-rock walls is a beautiful drive, but you will need a high clearance vehicle to get by sections of deep ruts in the road. Driving Directions for Outlaw Country
Just eight miles outside of Vernal, and a short distance from the road is an opportunity for a short hike to an incredible natural sandstone arch that is 85 feet long and stands 40 feet above ground. The hike to Moonshine Arch is approximately 1 mile, with an elevation gain of 290 feet. Read my previous post on Moonshine Arch for directions and additional information.
It would be easy to miss Moonshine Arch as you are leaving Vernal on Highway 191. Less than a mile north of the entrance to the Steinaker State Park, you will find an unmarked dirt road to the left. Take a left on this road and travel for approximately a half of a mile to turn on a wide dirt road. (Links to maps are included below). The arch rises 40 feet above the ground, and is 85 feet long, but is hidden from view by the surrounding landscape until you are in front of it. It is worth your time to search for it. The arch is accessible by jeep, ATV or by an easy hike.
If you don’t have a high clearance vehicle, it is recommended that you park in the area outside of the green gate. The majority of the trail is sand, and slick rock. The arch is approximately one mile from the green gate.
It is a pleasant walk with a variety of plants and flowers along the trail, and with great views. When you reach the arch, you will find caverns which would be a great place to enjoy a picnic in the shade. Dogs are permitted, but be careful in hot weather to ensure the sand and slick rock is not too hot for their paws.
I would recommend hiking during the early morning or early evening to avoid the hot sun during the day. Be sure to wear a hat, and to bring plenty of water.
There are no fees to access. You can find directions for the trail at these sites.
Other interesting hikes: