Our Time In The High Desert


The drive from C0-139 from Loma to Rangely, CO

The calendar and pandemic both contributed mightily in our decision to spend a bit more time in Vernal, UT than we had planned. How so? Well, the Tetons are one of the last few national parks where most campsites are given out on a first come first serve basis. It is a system that rewards the Noels’ of the world but greatly punishes the not so early bird type (you know, like Corey and Henna). So plan A was to spend July 3rd in Pinedale, WY then drive north on the 4th to the Gros Ventre campground which usually never fills or at least not until late at night. Then after a day or two we would drive just a bit further north to our true Summer home, the Signal Mountain Campground (site 41 if possible) which often fills up by 9 AM in the summer. But this year the 4th is on a Saturday. And there is a definite nesting instinct going on where people (us included) are becoming nomadic in their wandering. So on July 2nd the Gros Ventre campground filled up by 10 AM. Our best guess is that a whole lot of these people will end up staying through the weekend.


At Douglas Pass on CO-139 (elevation 8,268′). The 70 mile plus route has no services and only a few scattered ranches along the route. Limited amount of travelers too and we had this summit entirely to ourselves before getting back in the car and coasting down to Rangely.

It just so happens that I was a bit upset we would not have time to check out Dinosaur Monument in Colorado. Turns out though there is a second entrance to monument just east of Vernal, UT.  Amazingly, tiny Vernal, Utah has not one, but two Marriott hotels. Like everywhere else, however, campgrounds and Airbnb’s are booked solid. Hotels though remain pretty much empty and we were able to use points to book a very sweet room for two nights which allowed us time to both explore Dinosaur Monument and time our entrance to the Tetons for Sunday i.e. the best day ever to arrive at a first come first serve campground and especially when that day happens to also be the 5th of July.



Along the short hike but blistering hot hike from the Visitor’s Place to the Quarry at Dinosaur National Monument. There was a free, open air shuttle available with alternating empty rows of seats but we decided to walk instead.


At Quarry Hall visitors are able to view and even touch a whole mess of dinosaur bones deeply embedded within solid rock.   


There are also many petroglyphs within the National Park. These images were created by the Fremont people over a thousand years ago.


Billboard seen heading east toward the Colorado border on 40. Make no mistake, this is a very conservative part of the country. A confusing country too where it seems easier to buy an assault weapon than a six pack of real beer. 

Happy 4th of July everyone! Be safe and will talk to you soon.



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