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Vernal - Utah

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This town at the northeastern corner of Utah sits on the high desert just south of the eastern slopes of the Uinta Mountains, North America's only east-west range. It's a staging point for day and overnight trips to Flaming Gorge (to the north) and the Dinosaur National Monument, just east of town. Vernal is a half-day drive from Salt Lake City and a little more than a half day's drive from Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Vernal has a fine little Dinosaur Museum of Natural History, at 235 East Main, concentrating on the dinosaur finds in the area with displays of plant and animal life. The Dinosaur Garden features 14 life size replicas of prehistoric creatures. The town information center is in the museum building. The Daughters of Utah Pioneer's Museum features displays of pioneer artifacts and the history of settlement in the area. It's open summers only from 1 PM to 7 PM, at 5th Street West (at 2nd St. South).

What to See & Do

The major attractions in the area are Flaming Gorge, and the national recreation area of the same name, and Dinosaur National Monument. Check our Destinations pages for details.

Red Cloud Loop Tour

The nearby mountains provide scenes for a fascinating day trip. The High Uintas northwest of town provide great opportunities for mountain recreation. A day trip through the Uinta region nearest Vernal will take you to the old Dry Fork Settlement which, in the early days of eastern Utah, was a thriving town in the Ashley Valley. The tour begins by taking Highway 44/191 (the route to Flaming Gorge), north from downtown Vernal. As the road climbs to Windy Point, there are good views of the Ashley Valley and the red rock formations which are called the "Red Fleet".

The highway runs above the line of juniper trees and moves into sage country. Just past the rim of Hole in the-Wall Canyon, we turn left for the Red Cloud route. This is the Ashley National Forest which contains hiking trails, campsites and other sites. We keep left on the gravel road, passing a road to East Park Reservoir and pass the Iron Springs Campground. There is a good hiking trail to Brush Creek Cave (1/2 mile off the road). After passing Kaler Hollow Campground, there is a junction. We continue on a straight line to Kaler Hollow, Government Creek and a park. Oaks Park Reservoir (via a hackroad) is a good fishing lake with camping and a picnic area.

There is a forest ranger station at Trout Creek (a trout stream), and the loop route turns left passing the north fork of Ashley Creek with fishing, picnicking and camping. Leidy Peak (12,020 feet) is in view at this point. At the 43.7 mile mark, we continue straight with Lookout Point, a viewpoint overlooking Brownie Canyon. The road descends into the canyon and then follows Dry Fork Canyon with more camping and picnic sites along the road. Past the site of the Dry Fork Settlement, the drive continues to the left with a turnoff to Sadie McConkie Ranch, where there are Indian petroglyphs on the sandstone cliffs. There is a small admission fee. After leaving the ranch, the road enters the Ashley Valley again, passes Uintah County Park (with picnicking) and returns to Vernal via the Maeser Highway.

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Camping

Campground Dina
930 N. Vernal Ave., (435) 789-2148)
This campground has full hookups and a large number of tent sites, with laundry, and dump station.

Fossil Valley RV
(435 ) 789-6450
45 full hookups on West Highway 40, laundry, and dump station.


Nearby Places

Flaming Gorge National
Recreation Area

Dinosaur National
Monument

Price

Green River (Wyoming)

Zion National Park

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