Hey everyone! Today I’ll be covering the final two days of our Summer Road Trip! If you missed my first three posts you can find them here:
I covered days 1-9 in those three posts- we went from Mt. Rushmore to Billings, Montana, to Yellowstone National Park, and then Grand Teton National Park. The last two days of our trip were dinosaur focused since our son is definitely in that phase.
We woke up bright and early and took advantage of the free breakfast at our hotel The Lodge at Jackson Hole. Once again it was a great breakfast- a big perk of staying at this hotel is definitely the free breakfast! Then I made Cooper pose for pictures in the same spots from when we were here in 2016. I wanted some comparison photos:
2016 on the left 2019 on the right
What a difference three years makes!! My baby is so big now. Someone hold me while I cry 😦 Time goes by too quickly!!
We were sad to leave Jackson Hole- but we know we’ll be back!
We got on the road heading out of Wyoming and into Utah. The drive was pretty! We had previously only seen the desert areas of Utah, so driving into the North-Eastern part of the state, we were surprised by how green and forested it was. We drove along the US-191 through Ashley National Forest. There is a long length of the highway where there a large signs along the road telling you what type of fossils have been found there. I thought that was pretty neat.
Finally after driving for five and a half hours, we made it to our destination: Dinosaur National Monument!
I had researched Dinosaur National Park a little bit when planning out our trip. Since Cooper is in major dinosaur mode these days, we thought it sounded like a neat stop on our journey home from Wyoming. It’s basically a dinosaur dig site where so many dinosaur bones were found in this quarry, they decided to just build a structure right on the dig site, so the bones could be displayed in the state they were found.
We parked and walked into the visitors center. The tram was arriving in just a few minutes so we walked straight over to the loading area to wait for the tram. Once it arrived, we got on with the small group that was waiting with us. The tram play a little recording as it drives up to the quarry building. The recording explains a bit about the different fossils that have been found in that area. It’s a short ride up to the quarry- maybe 8 minutes or so. When we got up the hill and out of the tram this is what we saw:
We walked into this big building and even though I knew what to expect it was still really incredible to see. So many bones! It was really incredible.
There are the cool touch screen where you can pick the bone you want to know more about, and the screen will give you the info on what bone it is, what dinosaur it came from, and then it shows you where the bone would have gone on that dinosaur’s body.
We spent a long time looking at the bones and playing on the touch screens before going down stairs for an even closer look. Here, there were spots you were allowed to touch- which is so awesome when you think that you’re touching a fossil that’s over a million years old!!
There were lots of other neat things to check out downstairs besides the quarry wall:
The Park Ranger that was here was really nice- she gave us a little Junior Rangers workbook to fill out, and told us to report back when we were finished so she could give Cooper something. Once we finished we returned to show her and she swore Cooper in as a Junior Ranger! He got to do a little pledge and then she gave him his special badge!
We thought this was very cool! The Ranger was so nice! We basically stayed until the place closed. We had a great time here and we learned a lot! We caught the very last tram ride of the day back to the visitors center. After picking up a couple dinosaur souvenirs in the gift shop, we headed into the town of Vernal, Utah for some dinner.
Vernal is a little town near Dinosaur National Monument. It’s known as Dinoland USA- they have dinosaur statues and murals all throughout the town. We stopped for gas and took pictures with this big T-Rex statue:
Then, in the park next door to where we ate dinner, we snapped some pictures of these guys:
See? Dinosaurs everywhere!
We had dinner at Antica Forma. It’s a little Italian restaurant that has great reviews on Trip Advisor. Our food was awesome! Cooper had pizza, Cody had the lasagna, and I had a salad and the arancini appetizer. It’s a very casual dining atmosphere, and our waitress was very attentive. We were really glad we stopped here!
After dinner we drove on to our hotel in Ballard, Utah which was another 30 minutes away. We used our points to stay at the Best Western Plus Landmark Hotel. The hotel is sort of in the middle of nowhere, but along our route, so it was perfect. Big, clean room with the amenities you’d expect. We checked in and went straight to the indoor pool to swim, then it was back to the room to get ready for bed. We had a fun day!
The next morning we got up, got dressed, and hit the road towards St. George. It was a pretty boring, uneventful driving day, but we needed to make our way West to get back towards home. We had McDonald’s for lunch and ate in the car. Very fancy ;o) We made it to St. George at 4pm. We drove straight to the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site.
The Discovery Site is a building that houses a bunch of fossils and dinosaur tracts. The farm land was being leveled for development, when they hit the “paleontological jackpot” and found all sorts of dinosaur footprints. So they built a museum on the tracts to share their finding with the public.
According to the website “The St. George track site is not only the oldest Jurassic dinosaur site in Utah, it is the best basal Jurassic track site in western North America.” We enjoyed our visit here. I wouldn’t say it’s a destination spot(like Dinosaur National Monument), but if you’re passing through St. George it’s worth a visit.
After the Discovery Site, we drove to our hotel for the night. We stayed at The Best Western Plus Abby Inn. The people who worked here we SO nice! They made us feel very welcome. Our room was great too. We got settled in and went to dinner at my favorite place:
It was bittersweet knowing that this was the last Cracker Barrel meal I’d be having for a while! I ate all the things I shouldn’t: fried okra, pan fried fish with lots of tarter sauce, and dumplin’s. Lots of dumplin’s. It was delicious. Then we went back to the hotel and swam. The pool at this hotel was really nice. It was very hot that day, so the water was still warm even though it was 8pm. We played in the pool for about an hour and then headed upstairs for bed.
The next morning we got ready, got packed, and ate the free breakfast that the hotel served. It was a really good spread! We filled our bellies and got on the road home. It was a pretty boring drive, but we were excited to get home to see our doggies and our cat.
We had an amazing trip! I think this road trip is my favorite that we’ve done….and we’ve done a lot! It was so neat to see all the wildlife that we got to encounter on this trip. I’ll never forget looking up from my map in Custer State Park and seeing hundreds of Bison! Also, to see all the landmarks that I’ve only seen on television or in books(like Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful, Beartooth Summit) was surreal. I feel so grateful to get to travel to these spots and see them in person with the people I love. We live in such a beautiful country- it’s fun to get on the road and see it!
Thank you for following along and reading these trip recaps. I hope if you go on a similar trip you can use some of this information to help you plan your adventure 🙂