A Trip to the Uintah Basin

Oct 4, 2021


Our plan was to leave Thursday right after school, but because of surprise optomitrist appointments, and forgotten about Parent Teach Conferences, it was 6:00 pm before we left home. We'd hoped to eat in Vernal when we got there, but as it was we stopped at Carl's Jr. on our way out of town. Just like campers of old. At 9:00 pm we were almost to Vernal, but we were ready to stop for the night. Richard reached out with his inner camper's sense and turned off at some random road and found a place to pull over. We put the jacks under the camper and just like that we were ready to hit the hay.

Course the kids weren't ready to fall asleep just yet, so I read out loud to them a bit from "Dune" and they were out in minutes. 


The campsite Richard parked us in turned out to be kind of perfect. The boys explored the nearby hills while I cleaned up and Richard made pancakes.

I LOVE camping in a trailer. 5 minute take down is all it took to get us back on the road and headed for Vernal. First we stopped at the local Field Office to get tips on nearby BLM camping, and any other sites or activities we needed to see. The woman loaded my hands with maps, and our brains with tips and sent us on our way. We still weren't really clear where were going to camp, but Vernal is surrounded by BLM land, so we knew we'd be able to find a spot somewhere. 

This map shows what area is BLM land and what isn't. It would be awesome if it was an overlay you could get on Google Maps, but we were mostly able to figure out where we were. We headed for the yellow section of the map, and found a fantastic spot right along the Green River. It was clearly used for partiers and was kind of a mess, but we took a chance and set up camp anyway, figuring that if the entire population of high schoolers showed up that night we could always move somewhere else. I also gave my boys a few garbage bags and had them fill them up and it was looking much nicer in no time. 

And then the fun could begin!

About 45 minutes outside of Vernal, nestled in a field of oil derricks, is a little place called 

Fantasy Canyon. 

Words will not do it justice. Places like these are what pictures are for.

Amazing right? Have any movies been filmed here? I looked it up online, but there weren't any as far as I can tell. It is such a small and fragile place, it might not be possible, but it really looks like an alien landscape just crawled up out of the ground from another world. 

This helpful sign was on the outhouse door:

We did NOT see any pigmy rattlesnakes, but you better believe I never let my guard down.

Later that day we went to see the Indian Petroglyph's at McConckie Ranch. We learned about this place at the local field office so we decided to check it out.

We also decided to see what happens when you wink while frowning.

We hiked around and saw lots of cool stuff, but we were getting hungry and tired so we headed back to camp. However, when I was looking up McConckie Ranch online, I found TONS of really cool petroglyphs that we didn't see. So we're going to have to go back! That was pretty much the theme of the whole trip. There is too much to see and do in the Uintah Basin. 

We're going to have to go back. 

Richard made Patty Melts for dinner and we built a fire on the beach and roasted marshmallows and then put out the fire and looked at the stars. We never saw another living soul, so maybe the locals only party there during the summer months.

I read some more Dune to the kids to help them wind down, and they were snoring in minutes. I'm going to have to remember that. Dune is like a sleeping draft of magicalness.


We started the morning (after eggs benedict, for reals, cuz my husband is truly wonderful) at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum. (I suspect that when they were sitting in the Naming of the Museum Committee meeting they just couldn't come to any kind of consensus, so they named it everything they could think of.) 

We learned a lot and took a lot of awkward photos! (Some more awkward than others)

Look at his bravery. He doesn't even care that the Utah Raptor is about to eat him!

Then it was time to head out to Dinosaur National Monument, in Jensen UT!

Another really cool place that will require a lot more exploring. But it was so hot, and dogs are not allowed on a lot of the hiking trails, so this is another place we'll have to come back to.

After lunch we headed for Red Fleet State Park. During the summer you can rent kayaks and paddle boards, which you can use to explore the lake and nearby Dinosaur Trackway. We had no such luck however, so we had to drive around the lake, and hike to the trackway. 

Or maybe dance.

Dinosaur Tracks! Right under our feet! They were everywhere! When we'd seen all of the dinosaur tracks we could bear to see, it was time to head back. 1.5 miles each way isn't that big of a deal, right? We just had to climb back up this insanely steep hill. 

I hadn't realized we'd gone downhill so much on our way in, but by the time we climbed the mile and a half back up to our car, my legs were on fire. We were hot and tired and thirsty and slurpees were in order. Fortunately, Vernal has five 7-Elevens. For a population  of 10,500. And I think we stopped at every single one. 

I suppose that is the message I want to leave with you today. Vernal is the heart of Dinosaur Country and the 7-Eleven Capital of the World! So what are you waiting for? Visit the Uintah Basin today!