Earth Notes: The Dinosaur Diamond

Mar 29, 2017

Many millions of years ago, dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes roamed the Colorado Plateau. They were common in the region when the landscape was mostly wet and tropical. We know this through fossil evidence, plus petroleum deposits created through the decay of ancient plants and animals.

Camarasaurus skull
Credit Dinosaur National Monument, NPS


To imagine such a different time and place, people can take a tour on the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway. With dinosaur sightseeing as a theme, this official highway route invites motorists to enjoy a first-hand look at some of America’s most important paleontological sites and discoveries.

The Dinosaur Diamond links some 500 miles of roads in Utah and Colorado that pass by track sites, fossil quarries, and rock formations where these long-extinct animals once flourished. It also features natural history museums and interpretive trails.

This diamond-shaped loop includes Dinosaur National Monument, Canyonlands National Park, and several national forests. Byway towns include Vernal, Price, and Blanding, Utah, and Fruita, Colorado.  

Exhibits at five museums display full-sized replicas and robotic models of dinosaurs, with descriptions of the environments in which these creatures thrived. Visitors can also get a close-up look at thousands of ancient dinosaur bones embedded in rock.

Along the way, there are many opportunities for camping, hiking, birding, mountain biking, and seeing archeological sites.