We were delighted to find how good the cycling is in Dinosaur National Monument -- at least the Utah section near Jensen where we stayed in Green River Campground (see our blog post). The paved road through this part of the park is smooth, with large shoulders, and while a bit of climbing is involved, the worst of it was just pedaling up out of the campground, which is in a deep river valley. Once we got onto the main road, things got a lot easier.
And the scenery made any huffing and puffing totally worth it. Traffic was light too!
Once we climbed out of the campground, there is an overlook from which we could see the river and the campground. Great views from way up here! It was also a good place for me to catch my breath and let my heart rate get back to semi-normal. Ha!
The campground is way down on the lower right of this photo, as seen from the overlook, along with a great view of the Green River and Split Mountain beyond.
Continuing on, the Quarry Visitor's Center is just five miles from the campground on this smooth, nearly deserted road. I am sure it's much busier mid-summer, but after Labor Day was a great time to be here and avoid the masses of tourists.
We stopped in at the visitor's center to buy a magnet for our board, inquire about hiking trails, and to take the usual tourist shot in front of the Stegosaurus statue. Needless to say, we were the only ones here on bicycles!
And of course we had to pedal back to the entrance to nab a self-timer photo in front of the main entrance sign!
And another pose with a dinosaur!
On our first road ride, we ventured just a little outside of the park and down Brush Creek Road, which I'd seen on the map. It was a gorgeous area to ride, but got pretty hilly after a few miles of farmland.
Heading back into the park, we were lucky enough to spot this awesome Bald Eagle across the river.
Barry got a shot of me riding down the hill into the campground. It's hard to tell how steep this is from a photo. The speed limit is 15 mph, and there always seemed to be a Park Ranger in his truck at the bottom, so I had to apply the brakes as I zipped down.
Barry just loved riding here -- check out the smile! But really, who wouldn't?
This is Turtle Rock. See his head poking out at the top right?
We'll have more coming up from incredibly photogenic DNM, so stay tuned!
Heading east from Coalville, our next stop in Utah was Dinosaur National Monument, near Jensen. There are several entrances and sections of this 210,000+ acre park that spans part of eastern Utah and western Colorado, so we actually saw just a fraction of it, but we think we saw the best part -- and the only part where you can see actual dinosaur bones!
Here's a snip from Google Maps showing Dinosaur National Monument (DNM) in green. The dotted line is the Utah/Colorado border.
Before arriving at DNM, the drive was ridiculously beautiful. Of course it was; this is Utah!
Seems like every town along the way was spit-shined neat as a pin and decorated for the benefit of drivers passing through. I loved seeing all the baskets and pots positively dripping with summer flowers in bright hues.
Here's the Quarry Visitor's Center at the Utah entrance to DNM, not to be confused with the Canyon Visitor's Center in Dinosaur, Colorado. We didn't stop in on entering the park as we wanted to nab a good campsite in Green River Campground, but we rode our bikes here numerous times during our stay.
And we did get a good campsite! Only one of the three loops in the campground (the B loop) takes reservations, so we got there as early as we could manage and nabbed a pull-through site in the A loop under beautiful cottonwood trees with a private "back yard" and amazing view of Split Mountain. We paid just $9/night with Barry's Senior Pass for our site.
Here's a birds-eye view of the campground. Loop A is to the left. It has the most sunshine; loops B and C are more shaded.
This is a rustic campground with no hookups, showers, dump station, or water fill for RVs; however, there are bathrooms with flush toilets and drinking water spigots. Recreation opportunities abound (and we took full advantage of them, of course). There is a hiking trail, the River Trail, accessible right from the A loop, other hiking trails a bit farther away, great road cycling, and some gravel riding as well. Mountain bikes are not allowed on the hiking trails.
And of course, there are dinosaur bones to see! But we saved that until the end of our time in the park. We'll have a few more posts showing what we did here, as we stayed busy soaking up the beauty and history of this special park.
The Union Pacific Rail Trail brought us to this part of Utah, and we got the perfect day to ride it. This 28-mile, mostly unpaved rail-trail follows the route of a historical railroad line that transported coal and silver ore during the region's mining heyday in the 1860s. The trail runs from Echo Reservoir, a few miles north of where we were staying in Coalville, to Park City.
On this weekday, we had the trail practically to ourselves and pedaled from Coalville to Park City and back. Including riding around in Park City, this was a 47-mile bike ride.
The morning started off bright and sunny but a bit chilly, so extra layers were in order. as we headed south out of Coalville.
But it didn't take long for the sun to warm us up, and a stop to peel off the extra layers was in order. The trail gradually rises in elevation on the way to Park City, so riding from Coalville is a nice workout without being too strenuous.
The first trailhead we arrived at was Wanship, a small dot on the map now that used to be the county seat.
Continuing on, the trail runs between the two sides of the interstate highway through Silver Creek Canyon. The scenery was gorgeous on this part of the trail with wildflowers and early fall foliage all around us.
The next trailhead is in Promontory. By the time we reached this point, the wind had really picked up and would be a factor for the rest of the ride (sometimes in our favor, sometimes not). But we couldn't worry about that now as Park City beckoned in the distance.
We passed by a large field where helicopter drills were being performed. Look closely to see a man being dropped onto the field.
This part of the trail went through farm country, so there were several cattle gates to open and close.
As we approached Park City, the last several miles of the trail were paved. We turned into the wind at this point, so we appreciated the faster surface under our wheels.
We're not in the boonies any more!
There was a huge bike shop right by the trailhead. If you're ever visiting the area and want to rent a bike, here's the place to come!
Park City has a nice network of paved bike paths, so we continued onward to see a bit of the city. Everything was very lush and pretty, with fall foliage in the hills behond. This football field where we stopped to eat a snack was in a city park.
It's a climb into downtown, and the main downtown street goes up up up steeply for several blocks. It was very charming and colorful but obviously a tourist mecca, as everything was so clean and tidy that it almost looked like a Disney set. It was almost too perfect in a way, like it had just been constructed in the last year.
Maybe I was just cranky from all the climbing, but for whatever reason, Park City didn't appeal to me quite the way some other western cities have (like Jackson, Wyoming, for instance). It is, however, very appealing to many, especially during ski season. I bet with white snow all around, these cheerful colors really liven up the landscape.
There's a free downtown trolley -- a nice touch.
We stopped in at Java Cow for a treat. Barry went for ice cream, while I chose a cold coffee drink. I figured I could use the caffeine for the return trip.
Fortified, we headed back through town and this colorful tunnel on the bike path.
Along the way, I particularly liked these metal fish sculptures. Very creative!
On the way back, the downhill section through the canyon was fast and fun. All in all, this was a great trail and so much fun to ride, with beautiful Utah scenery to boot.
Stay tuned as next we head east to Dinosaur National Monument, a very special spot!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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