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A Jurassic Journey through Moffat County, Colorado

Tucked in the northwestern corner of Colorado with views that rival those of the Grand Canyon, is the unexpected Dinosaur National Monument surrounded by small-town charm.

A little off the beaten path and away from the crowds, Moffat County encompasses the towns of Craig, Maybell, Hamilton, Massadona and Lay and is home to two-thirds of Dinosaur National Monument.

The monument is a breathtaking collection of river canyons, fossils and petroglyphs. Inside the Quarry Exhibit Hall, visitors can see more than 1,500 dinosaur fossils on a cliff wall and touch fossils from 149 million years ago.

The Green River and Yampa River confluence in the middle of Dinosaur National Monument, and the canyons are a sight to see by river raft or in your vehicle. Get great rafting information from Good Vibes Rafting Gear and Shuttle Service. A new Yampa River Access brochure lists all launches from Steamboat Springs to Dinosaur National Monument and is available through Good Vibes or Visit Moffat County.

Both the Green River and Yampa River offer single and multi-day adventures and offer great opportunities to experience the region in a unique and adventurous way.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous,” says Tom Kleinschnitz who serves as Moffat County tourism director. “The views along the Yampa and Green River corridors and on the Yampa Bench Road in Dinosaur National Monument match or are better than the overlooks at some places in the Grand Canyon.”

Elk in Dinosaur National Monument
Elk in Dinosaur National Monument Photo: Flickr/David Fulmer

On the monument’s eastern edge is Deerlodge Park where visitors can see hundreds of elk year-round. There are restrooms and eight camping sites. To get there, go west from Craig on Hwy. 40 to mile marker 44. Take the Deerlodge Park Road north for 12 miles, following the paved road to the campground.

“There are times in the middle of the winter where they’ll bunch up into a herd of hundreds,” Kleinschnitz says. “So that’s an opportunity for people to really take incredible pictures.”

Wild Horses in the Sand Wash Basin near Moffat County
Wild Horses in the Sand Wash BasinBureau of Land Management

If you seek more wildlife, head east to Maybell and then north to the Sand Wash Basin area where one of the largest wild mustang herds still roam. Their biology can be traced back to horses brought over by early explorers from the Old World. Sand Wash Basin is 45 miles west of Craig, Colo. Drive west on Hwy. 40 past Maybell. Turn north on Hwy. 318 and drive about 15 miles. Turn right on County Road 67.

Wild horses in Colorado's Sand Wash Basin in Moffat County
Photo courtesy of Moffat County

For More Information:
Visit Moffat County
(970) 824-2335
775 Yampa Ave., PO Box 12, Craig, CO 81625
www.visitmoffatcounty.com

Guided River Trips through Dinosaur National Monument
www.nps.gov/dino/planyourvisit/commercialguidedrivertrips.htm