You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you visit the wild Dinosaur National Monument, which straddles the Colorado and Utah border. True to its name, dinosaurs once roamed here, and you’ll find plenty of evidence of their presence in thousands of fossils. But that’s not all. You’ll find petroglyphs from ancient civilizations, untamed rivers perfect for rafting and even wild horses. Plan a wild trip back in time with our guide to hotels, cabins and camping.
Dinosaur National Monument straddles two states and has several different entrance points, so it’s helpful to look at it in terms of east and west sides. To the east, you can enter the park off of US-40 and Dinosaur Park Road near Elk Springs, Colo., or off of CO-318. On the monument’s west side, you can enter off of US-40 and Harpers Corner Road near Dinosaur, Colo., or US-40 and CO-149 in Jensen, Utah.
In the National Monument
There is no lodging inside Dinosaur National Monument, but the park does offer six campgrounds accessible by roads.
On the park’s east side, Gates of Lodore Campground is near CO-318 on the northern border of the monument. Deerlodge Park Campground can be accessed from Dinosaur Park Road east of Elk Springs. Both campgrounds are open year round, though the roads can become impassable in winter.
On the park’s more developed west side, you’ll find the year round Split Mountain Campground and the seasonal Green River Campground near the Quarry Visitor Center, accessed off of CO-149 in Jensen. The Rainbow Park Campground has no water available and may be impassable in the winter. It is also accessed via Jensen.
Echo Park Campground lies in the heart of the monument and can be accessed from Harpers Corner Road near Dinosaur. The road may be impassable in winter, though the campground is open year round.
Closest Towns to Dinosaur National Monument
In the tiny town of Dinosaur, Colo., with its streets named after dinosaurs, you can grab a bite to eat or fill up your vehicle’s tank at one of the two gas stations. But if you are looking for lodging, multiple restaurants or shopping, Rangely is the closest Colorado town to Dinosaur with vacation amenities. Want to camp lakeside? Head to Kenney Reservoir close to town.
Farther east, the closest town with ample lodging is Craig, Colo. Here you’ll find chain hotels like Best Western and Quality Inn & Suites as well as independently owned motels. A mix of locally owned and chain restaurants and grocery shopping opportunities, like Walmart, will have you ready for adventure no matter what kind of vacationer you are. Craig is also the closest town to Sand Wash Basin, a BLM-managed area where you can see wild horses.
Just over an hour northeast of Craig, you’ll find beautiful Steamboat Lake State Park with camping and cabins along the shores of a sparkling lake.
On the park’s west side there are a handful of independently owned motels, RV parks and independent vacation rentals in Jensen, Utah. Jensen is known for its camping, having the largest campground and RV park near the national monument, just seven miles from the park’s entrance.
The closest major town is Vernal, Utah. With a small airport, hotels for all tastes from bed and breakfasts to Marriott properties, breweries and museums, Vernal is often considered the gateway to Dinosaur National Monument.
Unique Lodging Near the Park
For a quaint bed and breakfast experience, head to the Jensen Inn near Vernal, Utah. Here you’ll find quiet charm inside the inn, or a rustic overnight adventure in one of the tipis. To get out on the water, head north of Vernal to Red Fleet State Park. Dinosaurs once inhabited this beautiful area too so you’ll find tracks in addition to fishing, boating and paddling opportunities on the reservoir, hiking and of course, camping amid red rock country. Or, if you’re looking to commune with nature with a roof over your head, book a cabin at Wild Skies Cabin Rentals in Craig for a peaceful weekend.