Dinosaur offers stunning views

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Dinosaur residents insist visitors do one thing: Check out the Dinosaur National Monument.

"I would tell people to take the drive on Harper's Corner," said resident Bill Mitchem. "The first look out into the canyon country is wonderful."

The town of Dinosaur has about 300 people and butts up against Dinosaur National Monument to the north and the Utah state line to the west.

Dinosaur National Monument spans both states and offers visitors plenty to see and do on both sides of the border. Colorado's park entrance is a few miles east of Dinosaur.

A Dinosaur resident of about 30 years, Mitchem has been hiking and photographing the sights around the monument for decades. He can attest to the beauty of the park's high red sandstone walls and its prolific sampling of American Indian drawings.

Entrance into the monument on Harper's Corner Drive offers visitors spectacular views of the area's rock formations, he said. About 20 miles down the 30-mile road is a vehicle pullout that offers views of Echo Park, which is the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers.

"At one point you're almost 2,500 feet above the rivers," he said. "From Harper's Corner you can take some good shots."

With strong legs or a vehicle with high clearance, visitors can get down to Echo Park, which is a popular camping spot.

For a detailed report of recreational opportunities at the monument, visitors should first stop by the Welcome Center in Dinosaur off U.S. Highway 40 and the Dinosaur National Monument Visitor Center at the park entrance.

An orientation video at Colorado's National Monument Visitor Center is a must see and it isn't offered at the monument's entrance in Utah, Mitchem said.

Following a tour through the Monument, Dinosaur Mayor Wendy Petersen said there are handful of places to get a bite to eat and rooms to rent.

A couple of dinosaur statues in town and the town's sign itself are irresistible landmarks that visitors love to pose next to, she said.

"There isn't a day that goes by that people don't take pictures by that sign," she said.

By virtue of its name, Petersen said visitors are instantly intrigued by their surroundings and the thought that Dinosaur bones are embedded in every rock.

On the Utah side Monument visitors can view a mountainside of dinosaur bones at the park's Quarry.

"We feel we have a great location," Petersen said.

"There are places where you can get great views without getting out of your car. It's wonderful country here and not too many people. That's what makes it great." n

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