While most impacts of the diminished snowfall so far this winter across the Rockies have been negative, one positive is that the Harpers Corner Road at Dinosaur National Monument has remained open.
Monument Superintendent Mary Risser says the road, which normally is shut off to vehicles on January 1, will remain open for traffic "until we have a forecast of a significant snowfall."
The Harpers Corner Road is a scenic 31-mile one way drive that leaves U.S. Highway 40 two miles east of Dinosaur, Colorado.The route provides sweeping views of the Uintah Basin and of the Green and Yampa river canyons.
Several trails provide a closer look at the monument's scenery and its plant and animal life. However, take note that dirt roads leading off the Harpers Corner Drive are not maintained and might be closed by snow at any time.
Visitors venturing into this portion of the monument should check the forecast prior to their visit and be prepared for rapidly changing conditions. Once the road closes for the winter, portions of the Harpers Corner Drive will be open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing if snow conditions permit.
In addition to the Harpers Corner Road, other services and facilities are available during the winter months.
Quarry Visitor Center - The new visitor center features exhibits, a theater and bookstore and will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. The visitor center also serves as the departure point for car caravans to the Quarry Exhibit Hall with its wall of dinosaur fossils. Caravans leave from the visitor center at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. For more information on the visitor center or exhibit hall, please visit the park website or call 435-781-7700.
Quarry Exhibit Hall - In addition to the fossil wall, the facility features exhibits about dinosaurs and other life from the Jurassic. Park staff will coordinate frequent car caravans to the Quarry at the times listed above. Visitors must first stop at the visitor center before traveling to the Quarry.
Campgrounds -Split Mountain Campground, about 3 miles from the Visitor Center, remains open and free of charge during the winter, but no drinking water is available. Campers should bring drinking water and be prepared for cold temperatures.
The Cub Creek Road, a 6-mile scenic drive beginning east of the Split Mountain Campground, is normally open all winter. Visitors in this area can explore the Josie Morris homestead and walk into several box canyons located nearby. The last two miles of the road is unmaintained during the winter. While snowfall is sparse in this part of the monument, visitors should be prepared for winter conditions and changing winter weather.
"Now that the Quarry is available to the public again, we will resume collecting entrance fees shortly after the start of the New Year," said Superintendent Risser. "We wanted to give our neighbors plenty of time to see the new facilities and the dinosaur bones without having to pay the entrance fee.
"Fees are as follows: $10 per vehicle for seven days; $5 per person for someone on a motorcycle or bicycle. Frequent visitors to the monument may want to purchase a Dinosaur Annual Pass for $20, which is great value for those who come often or bring family and friends when visiting the area."
For more information, visit the fees and reservation section of the park website which also includes rates for commercial and non-commercial groups and how school groups can request an academic fee waiver.
Winter is a wonderful time to visit Dinosaur National Monument. Days are cold, but often sunny. Solitude is readily available on many trails. Wildlife such as deer, elk, and bighorn sheep, might be seen along the rivers. Please be alert for animals crossing the roads particularly at dawn and dusk.