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Shoshone National Forest and Dinosaur National Monument

September 7, 2010

Since last I wrote, I took my leave of Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons and traded them for the Shoshone National Forest and the National Dinosaur Monument.   It was not a good trade, but I’m happy for the experience nonetheless.

I wanted to go to Lander, WY as it had been highly recommended, plus, it’s the headquarters for NOLS (the National Outdoor Leadership School), so thought it would be good to swing North and East to accomplish this  instead of heading directly south to see the Dinosaurs.  Well, I got to Lander and couldn’t quite see the draw.  I drove around for awhile, looking here and there.  I got groceries.  I got gas.  Hmmmmm.  What am I missing?  I must be missing something.  Unfortunately, I still don’t know and will have to ask my friend what drew her and I’ll have to Google NOLS to see if I can determine the reason they are in Lander.  Anyway, I ended up driving on through and got to experience my first “dispersed” camping on National Forest Land.

Dispersed camping is when you camp where there is not an established campground, it’s just open land.  You simply find a spot that looks good to you and you set up camp.  Most National Forests and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Lands around the Country are open to dispersed camping.

I had learned about a great dispersed camping area south of Lander in the Shoshone National Forest, so off I set.  It seems that I was not the only one who had “heard” of this area since, by the time I got there(late Saturday afternoon), I had trouble finding a spot.  After driving down Fire Road 300 toward Louis Lake as the internet instructed, I found several likely spots already taken, it being Labor Day Weekend and all, so I kept driving up and down until I spied a spot off to the left with only one other camper, so I pulled in and had the most lovely evening out in the middle of nowhere although not quite as alone as I might have been had it not been a Holiday weekend.  The stars were so numerous and bright that night, I felt like I was in a planetarium and best of all, Misty and Mosely could run around off leash for the first time in quite awhile because you see, in National Parks, dogs on leashes at all times is a rule that is taken seriously.

As a result of going up through Lander, I not only was able to experience my first dispersed camping, but I was also able to drive through the Flaming Gorge and over the Flaming Gorge Reservoir Dam on my way south and back west to see the Dinosaurs.  The drive through the Gorge was very pretty.  It is called the Flaming Gorge because…..

This is a picture taken up toward the top of the Gorge where the rocks are a young and spry 49 million years old.

And this one, taken at the Dam, show the deep red rocks which are an elderly 1.1 billion years old.

And this shot is of the reservoir.  It was a hot and sunny day and there were lots of families boating and fishing etc.  The island you see is an Osprey Nesting site.  There were a few flying about when I was there.  Interestingly, there is a geocache at the base of the island, and I do mean the base.  It is only accessible with Scuba gear, needless to say,  I didn’t get that one.  I did get the one at the Dam, however, and in order to claim it as a find, I had to learn which President turned on the hydroelectric power (Kennedy) and which First Lady dedicated the Dam (Lady Byrd Johnson), and what bird is called the Sky-diving Fisherman (Osprey).

After about 150 miles or so, I arrived in Vernal, Utah where I drove around for awhile looking for internet with no success, so ended up driving on over to the National Dinosaur Monument and camped at the Green River Campground therein.  It was 92 degrees when I got to the campground and was most fortunate to find a spot in the shade near the river.  Misty and Mosely were SO hot as I could not keep Dora cool enough for them during the drive.  I had taken them for a dunk in the reservoir and as soon as I parked, I took them for a dunk in the Green River for which they were most thankful.

Here is an evening shot I took near my campsite.  Pretty isn’t it?

The next morning I was on the first shuttle out to the Dinosaur/Fossil Quarry to see all the T-Rex and Brontosaurus’ etc.  I had read that this quarry has produced many of the Dinosaurs seen in museums around the world.  So, I’m on this guided walk through the quarry and the girl is pointing out fossil after fossil ranging in size from a quarter to a dinner plate, all of which look like rocks to me.  After about a half hour of this, I asked where all the big guys were.  What big guys, she asked.  Well, the T-Rex and the other big dinosaurs.  Oh, we don’t have any of those, we have these fossils.  Well, why do you sell postcards with T-Rex on them?  Oh, I’m not sure, but the larger dinosaurs we do have are up at the old Visitors Center.  Are we going to see them?  No.  Why?  Because that area is closed.  Closed?  Since when?  Since 1996.

Well. That’s all I have to say about that except that a lady from Minnesota and I about fell down laughing all the way back to the shuttle since she and her husband had also come specifically to see the large dinosaur fossils.  How lame.  Anyway, here is a shot of some pictographs we saw on a rock while there.  There are three.  Can you see them?

I am now in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado where I had to shoo a herd of elk from my camping spot and will post again in a few days after I’ve had a chance to explore a bit, so stay tuned.

Oh, I didn’t take the time to proofread this post, so please forgive any mistakes, typos, etc.  Thanks!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Li1gray permalink
    September 8, 2010 9:25 pm

    Some very nice pictures and really neat stuff to see! Thanks for being so detailed it really helps paint the picture and experience!

  2. Sue C. permalink
    September 8, 2010 10:49 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed the pictures in this and your previous posting (just getting caught up) I want to be at that lake shown in the photo on your last blog!! I could just see you at that dinosaur museum, asking about the big guys and getting such lame answers. I sense there was an eye roll or two, and understandably so!

    I’m glad you’re feeling better and that the cold didn’t last too long. Looking forward to the next adventure. 🙂 Take care!

  3. September 26, 2010 4:12 pm

    yes, now I remember, the Flaming Gorge (the colors were right purdy!), Vernal (well, that is not too memorable if I recall correctly) the National Dinosaur Monument. Seeing these small bones with granddaughters was still fun, even without the big guys. And now I recall buying my lizard petroglyph of rock art that is hanging on the wall around the corner in my hallway–discovering these petroglyphs with 2 young impressionable girls was lot of fun for us–I imagine Mosely and Misty weren’t so fascinated with them. So glad the puppies had a chance to just run free finally.
    Love, Silver

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