Park of the Week: Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum
So much time is revealed in the Uinta Basin, even more geologic time than in the Grand Canyon. Within an 80-mile radius of Vernal, evidence of the entire Earth’s history is visible. At its center is the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum. The 22,000-square foot museum was built to preserve and reveal the wealth of prehistory found within this amazing area.
Visitors can touch actual rock and fossil specimens, including a 150 million-year-old dinosaur bone. Other exhibits include a fossil lab, fluorescent minerals room and a children’s lab where young visitors can be both amused and educated with a variety of toys, puzzles and books.
Outside the museum, and providing the greatest appeal to passing visitors, is the Dinosaur Garden, a prehistoric zoo of full-size replicas. The garden includes a 20-foot Tyrannosaurus with six-inch, knife-like teeth, a horned Triceratops, six-ton Stegosaurus, winged Pteranodon and other full-size prehistoric animal replicas.
Within a short drive from the museum is Red Fleet State Park. A short hike at the park reveals numerous dinosaur tracks. These tracks are believed to be more than 200 million years old. Paleontologists can tell from these tracks preserved in Navajo sandstone that the dinosaurs were three-toed (tridactyl) and walked on two legs (bipedal). The tracks range from three to 17 inches. A second site of about 40 dinosaur tracks of four to five inches, in the more recent Carmel Formation, has been found in the area, however, the species has not yet been identified.
The best viewing times of the tracks are early morning or late afternoon. The tracks are somewhat difficult to see when the sun is directly overhead.
For more information on area hikes or upcoming programs, visit the museum front desk.
Utah Field House is located approximately 175 miles east of Salt Lake City.