After a day of driving through western Colorado and stepping foot in Utah for the first time, my wife and I stopped for the night in Vernal. The following day brought clear and sunny skies, perfect weather for touring the northeast corner of the Beehive State.
We started the day by visiting Dinosaur National Monument. This area has an astounding 23 different rock layers that tell the story of creatures who have called this area home, including (yep, you guessed it) dinosaurs.
The rock formations at Dinosaur are breathtaking, as evidenced by Split Mountain, which towers over a campground at an elevation of 4,800 feet.
Although most areas in the Utah side of the monument are rocky, the appropriately-named Green River adds color to the landscape. Not gonna lie… I was humming an appropriate Creedence Clearwater Revival song while taking in this view.
This is Turtle Rock. It is not teenage, mutant, or ninja, but wow, it is most definitely fascinating.
After hitting Dinosaur (the monument), we drove to Dinosaur (the town in Colorado) for lunch. We ate at Bedrock Depot and I can’t even begin to tell you how much we loved this place. Leona and Robert were friendly and helpful, the food was delicious and reasonably priced, and my wife found a couple shot glasses for her collection. What more could you ask for?
Oh, and they also have a giant ice cream-loving dinosaur named Tony out front. His arms are juuuuust long enough to get that cone within licking distance.
On our journey west through Utah, we saw this semi. The wording on the back of the cab reads “I wanna go fast,” which is a line from Ricky Bobby in the movie “Talladega Nights.” Because my wife and I love to travel, we decided our motto is “I wanna go further.”
Next, we traveled north toward the Wyoming border to see one of the lesser-known scenic areas in Utah (well, probably lesser-known to out-of-state travelers like us, but well-known to the locals). Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is phenomenal. Here’s the Cart Creek Bridge, which crosses the Green River in a picturesque canyon.
The Flaming Gorge Dam forms the Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Green River. Major John Wesley Powell named the area “Flaming Gorge” during his 1869 expedition for the “brilliant, flaming red of its rocks.”
This is my favorite photo of the trip, mostly in large part because of the beautiful reservoir behind me, but also in very small part because I’m wearing my new Andre the Giant shirt.
The Flaming Gorge Dam is 502 feet high, which might not sound imposing until you climb the stairs near the visitor center and gaze down upon the massive structure. For a reference point, check out the white truck parked at the bottom right.
Just when we thought free range cows were going to be the only wildlife sighting on our trip, we spotted this little fella catching some rays at Flaming Gorge. If my research is correct, he’s an ornate tree lizard (Urosaurus ornatus, if you want to get all technical).
We finished the day by checking in at the Promised Land Resort near Fruitland, Utah. This was the awesome cabin we stayed in, nestled down in a protective canyon.
This quaint cabin was clean and cozy; it was a shame we only stayed here for one night.
I’m posting this picture only because I thought the loft was pretty cool (no, I didn’t sleep up there).
The best part of staying at the resort was the scenery. The Strawberry River runs through the middle of the property and, I kid you not, THIS was the view from our front porch.
Before settling in for the night, we walked around the resort and gazed up at the unique rock formations that form the canyon around the property.
Seriously, this was the view near our cabin.
These huge formations surround the entirety of the resort.
As the sun set at the resort, we admired the vibrant sky and eagerly awaited the next day’s adventure, which would take us to another new state and an iconic landmark, both of which were not part of our original itinerary when we began this trip. Stay tuned for part four, where we live out our new motto of “I wanna go further.”