In 1909, paleontologist Earl Douglass was searching for fossils for the Carnegie Museum when he discovered a formation layered with prehistoric plant and animal fossils. A quarry was established there and it proved to be one of the world's best window into late-Jurassic-period dinosaurs. Dinosaur National Monument was created in 1915 to protect 80 acres in the quarry area. Today the monument includes 210,844 acres. Read more...
Many fossils are embedded in a sloping rock formation that was once a sandbar on the edge of a large river. As the river carried animal carcasses downstream, many became stuck on the sandbar, which eventually turned to rock. As a result, fossils from hundreds of creatures are concentrated in a small area. Many fossilized bones have been partially exposed but left intact in the rock where they can be easily seen. A building was constructed over the area, which is now known as "The Quarry" at the monument.
Research is ongoing. In Feb, 2010, a team of paleontologists from Dinosaur National Monument, Brigham Young University, and the University of Michigan announced the discovery of a new, large, plant-eating dinosaur, Abydosaurus mcintoshi.
The Quarry area makes up only a small part of the land included within the national monument. The remaining area includes canyons cut by the Green and Yampa rivers. The park backcountry is incredibly rugged and remote. It is very scenic and some areas have high wilderness value.
The Green and Yampa rivers provide outstanding opportunity for whitewater adventure. Lodore Canyon on the Green contains multiple challenging Class III and Class IV rapids, including classics like Disaster Falls, Hell's Half Mile and Triplet Falls. The Yampa River sports many Class III rapids and one Class IV known as Warm Springs Rapid, which has a hydraulic named Maytag that has the tendency to flip boats.See the Guides and Outfitters section for a list of certified guides.
The unique rock formations in this area provide a geologic record of earth history covering billions of years. Part of the mission of the monument is to work to understand that history... how rocks formed over time and were shaped by rivers and other environmental factors... how plant and animal life developed and changed over time.
The monument's rocks, fossils and rivers tell an important story, and provide great opportunity for recreation.