Recently we had to opportunity to visit the Uinta basin near Vernal Utah, I have been to Vernal several times in my life, but always to visit the dinosaur national monument, and never took the time to look around the area and those places are worth seeing at least once in your lifetime.
On this visit though I was on a photographic mission, we had considered going to canyon lands in southern Utah, but upon finding that every other person had the same idea, we could not get a motel room, so my wife suggested Vernal, we hadn’t been there for quite a few years, don’t know what could have changed, it’s just dinosaur bones, and rocks, right?
On our way out of Vernal the morning after we arrived I noticed a bunch of billboards that said things like “Split Mountain Motel” and such, which got me curious about what is Split Mountain, so I started to search that out, come to find out there are a lot of things in that eastern desert to see, and do.
Actually it is quite varied, and beautiful in it’s own way, pictured here is Split Mountain, but we also visited Red Fleet reservoir, and Donkey Flats, both beautiful, while your there you might want to check out the very large phosphate mine, you can’t miss it, it is huge!! You take highway 191 out of Vernal going north, this highway also takes you to Flaming Gorge, and Red Canyon, on the map the road looks quite, well flat, but as you travel the road one section has nine switch backs, in just a short distance, and not one, not two, and not three, but four runaway truck lanes, and some of the passing lanes going up are just about as long as a semi truck with a trailer, you would have to be quick to make that pass!!
Once up to the plateau there are a few things you can see, one of them is the Red cloud Loop, I just confess I am not really sure what there is to see on this loop, because once we got on it we got sidetracked on another dirt road which took us to spirit lake, once we got to the lake, which was partly frozen over, it looked like any other lake in the Uinta mountains of Utah, but the creek that came out of it, Sheep Creek, has some beautiful parts of it, on my web page you can find Sheep Creek Falls, small but beautiful!!
You can also go from there to Flaming Gorge, and
both beautiful, and the Green river where it
comes out of the damn is crystal clear, and teaming with trout.
If you decide to not take that route, you can head east to the Dinosaur monument, if you don’t go to the visitors center and the excavation site you can travel to the Green river, and the Split mountain overlook, it is interesting to see the river cutting through the mountains, which is why it is called Split mountain, at this location if you get there at the right time of day, and season the sun is just low enough to backlight the cottonwoods that grow along the river, giving them that translucent look, just stunning.
Another route you can take is going south on highway 45, then onto Glenn Bench RD. and lastly turn onto Coyote Washington RD, best to ask for direction at the Dinosaur museum in Vernal, anyway this take you to a place called Fantasy Canyon, we got there in the middle of the day, and the light was not good, so I never got any photographs of this canyon, but it is interesting, not a lot of different colors there, but cool rock formations.
And of course there is also Josie’s Cabin, which is part of the Dinosaur national monument, the cabin is ok, but there are a couple of box canyons there that are beautiful, if you look for my photograph “The Light in the Forest” that was taken in “BOX Canyon” just a stones throw from the cabin, Josie used to graze her cattle in this canyon because it was easy to block off, considering it truly is a box canyon, one way in, and one way out, unless of course you’re a lizard, or a bird.
The Uinta basin truly is a beautiful place to visit, and explore, and so much more to see than just dinosaur bones, when your there take the time to look around.
Thank you for reading, I hope your day is fantastic, now go out and make your day a picture perfect day!!