Settled in 1878, Vernal sits in the northeast part of Utah, 170 mi/275 km east of Salt Lake City, in the midst of the state's "Dinosaurland" region. The No. 1 dino attraction is Dinosaur National Monument, which lies 10 mi/16 km east of town and extends into Colorado. It's one of the richest collections of dinosaur history in the world. More than 20 full skeletons and 11 species of dinosaurs have been unearthed in the park.
You can see some of the prehistoric remains in the Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center (near Jensen). It contains brachiosaurus and brontosaurus skeletons, as well as the petrified bones of crocodiles and turtles. In order to access the Quarry, you must sign up for a ranger-led "quarry caravan." To make a reservation, call the visitors center at 435-781-7700.
You can find out more about the dinosaur era at the Utah Field House State Park Museum in Vernal. It has a garden that re-creates the region's environment during prehistoric times. (Look for dinosaur sculptures among the greenery.)
North of Vernal is Steinaker State Park with beaches, swimming, boating, waterskiing, fishing and camping. http://www.stateparks.utah.gov/parks/steinaker.
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