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Dinosaur, and Dinosaur National Monument

Community Legacy

This rugged land was once home to Fremont people and, later, Ute and Shoshone Indians. These native peoples left their stories on the rock walls of the canyons across the region.

Settlers were slow to arrive in this remote region, but hardy pioneers carved out ranches and livelihoods.The town now called Dinosaur was once a part of land known as Baxter Springs after owners Art and Fanny Baxter. During the Raven Park oil eld development in the 1940s in nearby Rangely, local businessmen persuaded Fanny to plat a town for oil field workers. The town, Artesia, was named for the gravity-defying springs which supplied water to the high desert community.

In the 1960s, the Dinosaur National Monument superintendent convinced locals to rename the town, Dinosaur. Even streets were renamed—look for Brontosaurus Boulevard and Stegosaurus Freeway!

Did you know that just outside the town of Dinosaur there is endless opportunity for outdoor adventure at Dinosaur National Monument?

The western most town in the state, Dinosaur is the site of the Colorado Welcome Center and gateway to Dinosaur National Monument

Follow the Green and Yampa Rivers through deeply carved canyons on the same course as the area’s early surveyors. In 1869 the Powell Expedition explored and recorded its
waters and landmarks. The names they gave to the canyon’s features, the Gates of Lodore, Whirlpool Canyon, and Echo Wall—attest to their experience of the uncharted terrain. The Monument’s cultural history dates back 10,000 years.

Clovis and later Fremont and Ute Indians were the first explorers of the region. Their art, carved petroglyphs and painted pictographs, give us a glimpse into their lives. Early settlers built homesteads in this area—and some remains are found alongside native people’s art.

Did you know that dinosaurs are only one chapter in one billion years of earth’s history exposed in Dinosaur National Monument’s striking scenery?

A range of human history is preserved within the Monument, including Native American rock art, homesteaders’ cabins and an early 20th-century ranch. Within the Colorado canyons, one billion years of history is revealed in towering rock formations. Experience the canyons and cliffs from the waters of the Green and Yampa rivers on a rafting trip. Or hike to a vantage point, 2,500 feet
above the rivers, to take in stunning vistas of this remote region’s boundless landscapes. Start from the Canyon Area Visitor’s Center and take the self-guided Harpers Corner Auto Tour over Blue Mountain.


To the Canyon Area Visitors Center:

  • Travel west on Interstate 70 to Rifle, Colorado.
  • Take the exit for Highway 13, and follow Highway 13 north toward Meeker.
  • Turn left on Highway 64, about 40 miles past Rifle. Follow 64 west to Dinosaur, Colorado (about 78 miles).
  • Turn east (right) in Dinosaur, onto Highway 40.
  • Travel east on Highway 40 for two miles.
  • Turn north (left) on Harpers Corner Road at the signs and make the first right into the parking lot.


Dinosaur National Monument: Established in 1915 to protect the remarkable deposit of ancient animal bones in Utah, the Monument expanded to Colorado in 1938 to preserve the “basement of time.” The Green and Yampa Rivers cut through the landscape to reveal rocks more than two billion years old.


Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway

  • Journey Through Time
  • Canyon Pintado Journey


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