Hiking road trip to Dinosaur Nat Mon, The Wedge + quieter areas from Moab


May 18, 2012
Ok, this is more a report based on a trip of hikes from two bases (Vernal for the Dinosaur NM and Moab) than a continuous backpack report, but hey I’ll admit it’s an excuse to post my favourite photos. But hopefully people will like them, as picking the best means they’re of better quality than lots from the same hike & I’m sure they’re of more interest than my words. I really wanted to see Dinosaur after seeing some great photos of it & hoping it would be a little cooler than more southern areas of Utah for an August visit during my children’s vacation.
First we headed along the Yampa Bench Road, stopping at several incredible panoramic viewpoints on the rim of the Yampa river.

Yampa 2nd overlook pano imp resized.jpg

048 imp resized.jpg

Then I returned two days later hoping to reach the river but got down Red Rock Canyon to within a mile of it before surrendering to the increasingly dense vegetation.
So that afternoon we hiked to Ruple Ridge, but on returning to our tents just off the Yampa Bench Road we found rangers parked up and waiting for us. After a long conversation in which we were initially told we were being let off fines with a warning, we ended up with a fine after being told it was forbidden to camp or hike to where our tents had been left.
The next day we took this up at the visitor centre and not only was the fine rescinded but a more senior authority said I could hike to where I’d intended to go, something I did during two nights’ camping at the Echo Park Campground. As you can see, I was very glad I’d queried the decision, although unfortunately forest fires in California and Oregon meant the view was more hazy than normal.

213 weather station pano saturated resized.jpg

197 weather station pano saturated resized.jpg

For the next sunrise I got up to a great viewpoint taking in our campsite and Steamboat rock.

302-3 pano resized.jpg

On the return to Vernal we took in the Harpers Corner Overlook trail where I took this pic, which I only appreciated after returning home. I love the colours, the geologist’s fantasy, and the fact it looks like my one year old has flicked green paint flecks over the picture.

366 imp zoom resized.jpg

Before leaving Vernal we took the opportunity to go to Fantasy Canyon & were alone there for sunset. It’s a weird place, and it’s lack of colour almost gives a surreal quality as the pictures look like they were taken in black & white apart from the clothing of my family.

104 imp resized.jpg

The Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

109 resized.jpg

Our next little drama came on a visit to Flaming Gorge where after a puncture we followed it up with the misfortune of the light control dial falling through the dashboard. We were still on top of a mountain 50 miles from our Vernal motel with less than an hour to darkness and no headlights and two young kids in the back, so I think my “misunderstanding” of the speed limit was excusable to get us back before darkness just in time since we had no lights.
Flaming Gorge was beautiful - I can’t believe the ranger told me he’d never bothered coming to work an hour early to see this view at sunrise.

168  imp resized.jpg

After a new vehicle was delivered from Salt Lake City and a slight detour to visit our friend ‘Glasterpiece’ Jack (check out his great glass works in SLC) and Antelope Island - sort of seen here

501 imp resized.jpg

we travelled on to Moab via an overnight at The Wedge, again being alone there as we explore viewpoints along the rim of the San Rafael.

535 pano best resized.jpg

550 imp pano resized.jpg

Jack then kindly took me for a night’s camping at Big Pocket Overlook which his vehicle was better suited to. Despite a violent storm in Moab surprisingly the road was passsable. By the morning there were breaks in the cloud which provided interesting skies and light.

610 imp resized.jpg

630 imp resized.jpg

633 imp resized.jpg

642 zoomed pano resized.jpg

644 IMP 2 resized.jpg

673-7 pano  imp resized.jpg

The final few days were spent enjoying Negro Bill Canyon where we had Morning Glory Arch to ourselves for several hours,

778 and 9 pano resized.jpg

then I went camera-clicking at sunset through Arches NP while my partner and 8-year made their first visit to Delicate Arch,

790 imp resized.jpg
791 resized.jpg
805 imp 2 resized.jpg

before a final day alone again for the afternoon with the family on a hike in Canyonlands

False Kiva resized.jpg

and again alone again hiking on Poison Spider Mesa. I’d always wanted to see the views of Behind the Rocks from there, but with no trail near the rim it was a question of trial and error as to which slickrock domes wouldn’t become too steep to halt my progress. It took much longer than I expected to finally get a a high point looking across the Colorado, which I managed just as the sun was setting. I probably should have left myself more than 3 hours to give myself time to try out more ways up on to the top of the domes (I had tried plotting way beforehand through Google Earth) as it would have nice to have been able to see down to the river as well as over the other side of it. But I really wanted to get that orange glow sunset shot, so once I’d found my reasonable place I may not have abandoned it anyway to gamble on testing others out - which may have led to more too steep ascents. I guess the answer is to spend the day looking around, and then return to the favourite vantage point for sunset. But to anyone going up there - there are virtually no footprints and lots of cryptobiotic soil so take care not to ruin a pristine area. I tried to follow tiny washes but that’s not always the shortest route.

950 resized.jpg

Heading back to the parking lot there was the beautiful end-of-vacation shot of the river, although I’m kicking myself for not stopping a few minutes later to shoot a possibly even better bright full moon which had emerged just above the opposite rim, thinking that might be pushing the patience of a hungry and tired family in our car.

966 pano resized.jpg


Hike Hard, Tread Lightly
May 15, 2013
It doesn't have to backpacking to be adventure...case in point, your TR. Thanks for sharing. Awesome photos!


I walk
Jun 25, 2012
Wow. Great stuff. I love Dinosaur N.M. and am intending to correct the fact I haven't explored it enough. Thanks!


Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
May 5, 2012
That's a pretty ambitious Utah itinerary. Nice! Red Canyon on Flaming Gorge is even better from the water.


Mar 19, 2014
Excellent TR. It was a pleasure camping with you and your wonderful family. Hopefully we'll get to do it again.

I'm glad you got to see what I call Tom Till Kiva. It is commonly known as False Kiva. I first hiked there in 1991 after seeing the picture on a calendar.


May 18, 2012
Wow, 24 years ago, you must have been one of the first as only people who have seen pictures go. In all my visits to Canyonlands I'd never been as it's not on park maps or trails. Although it is in one popular book now so could see more visitors but we were alone for 3 hours there. We nearly missed the small upper cave with the stone ring though! We sat in the lower giant one eating lunch and assumed the stones had been kicked down until I went exploring higher to take pics. Was a bit hot in August hiking back up though with Dylan on my back - good job it's not a long hike


Life really is better Here
Apr 20, 2013
Thanks for sharing, Dinosaur NM is a great place. I have contemplated returning for a few years now, but always put it off, so maybe it needs to happen a little sooner.


Jul 5, 2014
Wow, it looks like you saw so many different places in one trip. Great sounding trip. Great photos too.
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Titans 3 week Arizona road trip: Tucson Desert Rain & Hiking SAGUARO NP Hiking & Camping 1
Perry Capitol Reef NP Hiking and Road Trip Suggestions Wanted Trip Planning 1
J Hiking Southwest Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Dec. 26-28, 2022 Trip Reports 1
R Pony Express Trail Hiking Recommendations Trip Planning 4
W Hiking boots - women's wide foot. General Discussion 8
norwegianxplorer Hiking Sierra de las Nieves, Spain. Sunrise hike from Yunquera, Andalusia, Wild boar and Spanish Ibex Hiking & Camping 0
norwegianxplorer Hiking the unique hoodoos landscape of EL TORCAL de Antequera in Spain at sunrise, May 2022 Hiking & Camping 0
seekinglost Introducing the Mojave-Sonoran Trail: A NEW 625-mile Winter Thru-Hiking Route Backpacking 4
Reef&Ruins Interesting Thread on Another Hiking Forum General Discussion 13
TeamJenkins17 Washakie Wilderness Hiking Hiking & Camping 0
M What's your rain forecast comfort zone for canyon hiking? Trip Planning 4
Rockskipper Night Hiking General Discussion 19
F It has begun - Hiking Baja's El Camino Real Backpacking 7
J Death Valley Natl. Pk. 6 Days hiking. Nov 14-19, 2021 Hiking & Camping 1
F Hiking a section of the El Camino Real in Baja in 2022 Trip Planning 0
OwenM Hiking Horse Canyon? Trip Planning 4
norwegianxplorer Backpacking Norway, Femundsmarka National Park Pt 3, Grand Scandinavian Hiking & Backpacking Tour Ep4 Backpacking 0
kwc Hiking in Baxter State Park, Maine Hiking & Camping 4
Mountain Wanderer Hiking the Idaho Centennial Trail in the Great Burn Backpacking 0
A Need hiking gear suggestion Hiking & Camping 9
norwegianxplorer Backpacking Norway, Lysefjorden/Kjerag/Kjerag Waterfall/Kjeragbolten, 4 days Solo Hiking high above the Norwegian Fjords Trip Reports 2
J Death Valley NP Black Mountains and beyond Hiking Dec 19-20, 2020 Hiking & Camping 1
trailsofbudapest Hiking in Hungary Trip Planning 0
Dreamer Hiking w/ Eric, Fishing w/ Al Backpacking 5
norwegianxplorer Preikestolen, Pulpit Rock, Hiking Norways most Iconic and spectacular Landmark & views, Lysefjord, Norway Hiking & Camping 1
kwc Fall hiking in the southern Adirondacks Hiking & Camping 4
kwc Adirondack Hiking - the colors are starting to pop! Hiking & Camping 5
J Need Park City area Hiking help Trip Planning 2
Ross Hiking Scotland Hiking & Camping 19
kwc Hiking in the South Central Adirondacks Hiking & Camping 1
kwc Adirondack Spring Hiking Continued Hiking & Camping 3
C Little Hiking, Little Rockhounding Everything Else 0
Yvonne Hiking Connector Trail to Northgate Peaks on Zion Opening Day, May 13 Hiking & Camping 8
U Any recommendations for 5 days hiking in Wyoming, Idaho or MT? This is around July 15-20. Not counting on Glacier being open Trip Planning 9
kwc More Southern Adirondack Hiking Hiking & Camping 5
kwc Southern Adirondack Day Hiking (aka Social Isolation) Hiking & Camping 0
TrektheWorld Heil Ranch Hiking and Hammocking Hiking & Camping 2
kwc Local Hiking Hiking & Camping 1
DouginGJCO Hiking &/or backpacking partner for Canyonlands Natl Park and nearby Noobs: Introduce yourself! 0
Yvonne Hiking the Hurricane Canal and Hurricane Rim Loop, February 15 Hiking & Camping 4
Yvonne Hiking Avalanche Peak, Yellowstone Hiking & Camping 4
TractorDoc September 14th-21st Solo Hiking in Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP Hiking & Camping 12
Yvonne Yellowstone 2018 - a solo trip hiking and exploring America's first National Park: Part II Madison Hiking & Camping 3
Yvonne Yellowstone 2018- A solo trip hiking and exploring America’s first National Park: Part I Mammoth Hiking & Camping 13
M Hiking attire Gear 22
TractorDoc Mount Rainier in Late July -- Day Hiking Meet Up (Members Only) 0
Yvonne Hiking Yellowstone - 100 miles the Second Trip Planning 21
NorthwestWanderer Hiking to Lake 22 in the Cascades Hiking & Camping 2
G Grand Canyon hiking - need a ride Trip Planning 0
Mikjik86 Video Hiking/Camping San Rafael Swell/Goblin Valley/Horseshoe Canyon - Feb 2019 Hiking & Camping 2

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.