The Dinosaur Dozen: The 12 Amazing Campsites in Dinosaur National Monument

The Dinosaur Dozen: The 12 Amazing Campsites in Dinosaur National Monument

Splashed across parts of Utah and Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument covers 210,000 acres of land enriched with fossil beds and ancient cave etching. This is truly a mystical, ecological masterpiece where people in the present day commune with a piece of nature that speaks back to them through the ages. As you plan your trip for camping in Dinosaur National Monument, here are some essential things to know about the conditions here:

  • Dinosaur National Monument covers desert land stretching over Northwestern Colorado and Northeastern Utah.
  • The area experiences classic high-desert weather conditions with very high summer temperatures.
  • During the winter, conditions can get very cold in the desert. Snow is quite common. Campsites within the park can become inaccessible during snowfall, rainfall or extreme weather.

Nestled in a subrange of the Rockies, Dinosaur National Monument was established in 1915 to protect the famed Dinosaur Quarry. More than 800 paleontological sites containing dinosaur fossils and other treasures of the ages are contained within the park. In fact, a number of fully intact dinosaur skeletons have been pulled from the earth in this spectacular landscape of canyons. There’s virtually no limit to what you can experience when visiting this park. The list of top attractions and experiences to discover while inside Dinosaur includes seeing and touching more than 1,5000 dinosaur fossils inside Quarry Exhibit Hall, viewing ancient petroglyphs etched inside caves, cycling along a river, gazing at stars from atop Split Mountain and taking long drives with views of canyons in every direction.

Camping in Dinosaur National Monument is an experience like nothing else! While the park is full of campsites that will place you in the shadows of breathtaking rock formations and rushing rivers, you might also want to consider staying at campsites that offer their own special experiences on your way to and from Dinosaur.

camping in dinosaur national monument-real allosaurus skull

Here’s a look at the 12 campgrounds to know about if you’re finally checking Dinosaur National Monument off your list:

1. Echo Park Campground

Tent and RV Camping

Bonus: Contains a group site with room for up to 25 guests

If you’d like to camp along the banks of the Green River inside Dinosaur National Monument, Echo Park is hard to beat. This campground is positioned at the base of the park’s towering cliffs for views that rock. Look out over a landscape of purplish and red sandstone as you settle into your campsite. The most notable view that can be enjoyed from the Echo Park Campground is Steamboat Rock. Etched inside the canyons at this site are petroglyph panels telling tales dating back more than 6,000 years. In the present day, bighorn sheep and mule deer are known to haunt the campgrounds.

Camping Amenities

While Echo Park is open around the year, you’ll need to confirm that access is available when the weather turns severe. The amenities included with your site are water, vault toilets, a picnic table and a campfire ring with grill. However, the campground does not provide sewer, showers or electric hookups. Echo Park is situated 38 miles north of the Canyon Visitor Center.

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ancient stone paintings

2. Gates of Lodore Campground

Tent and RV Camping

Also located on the Green River inside Dinosaur National Monument, Gates of Lodore Campground is situated right at the boat ramp located at the head of Lodore Canyon. If you choose to stay here, you can expect to be in the company of river rafters who come for river access. One advantage of camping here is that several of the 19 sites offer decent shade.

Camping Amenities

All sites are quipped with tables and fire pits. You will have running water and vault toilets to use during the summer camping season. However, the campground lacks showers and electric hookups. Gates of Lodore is situated 106 miles north of the Canyon Visitor Center. The campground is open around the year as long as the weather permits.

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3. Outlaw Trail RV Park

RV, Tent and Cabin Camping

Located seven miles from the entrance of Dinosaur National Monument, Outlaw Trail RV Park offers a camping experience with a resort twist. It’s a great place to stay if you’d like to be pampered for a few days before heading to a more rugged site. If you’d like to camp without lugging along any camping gear, the cabins here provide a little taste of roughing it without the need to set up your own site.

Camping Amenities

This camping wonderland in Jensen, Utah, offers bathrooms, showers, laundry facilities, a playground and a communal fire pit. During the summer, Outlaw Trail RV Park is a great home base for anyone looking to enjoy caving, fishing, watersports, mountain biking, rafting and fossil hunting. During the winter, it’s a haven for people coming to the mountains for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing and ice fishing.

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unique terrain of the park

4. Deerlodge Park Campground

Tent Camping

This is a campground consisting of seven walk-in sites located at the Yampa River boat ramp situated at the head of Yampa Canyon inside Dinosaur National Monument. While camping here, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the Yampa River entering the Yampa Canyon from the conclusion of Deerlodge Park Road. This is a very intimate, rugged campsite.

Camping Amenities

Each site has its own table and fire pit. Water and vault toilets are only available during a window lasting from the middle of May through the middle of July. While the campground is open around the year, accessing it is very difficult in snowy weather. During the spring flooding season, the Yampa River often becomes high enough to flood the campground. This campground is without sewer, trash pickup or electric hookups here.

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5. Yampa River State Park

RV and Tent Camping

Covering parts of Routt County and Moffat County, Colorado’s Yampa River State Park offers a premium camping experience. It is about an hour’s drive from the entrance to Dinosaur National Monument. When camping in the park, guests enjoy a reservoir, two swim beaches and several recreational facilities. Yampa River State Park borders a 134-mile stretch of the Yampa River covering 13 access points that stretch all the way to Dinosaur National Monument’s Utah border. Within the park, campers enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking hiking, biking and horseback riding.

Camping Amenities

The list amenities offered at the park’s campgrounds includes showers, electric hookups, laundry facilities, a playground and a dump station. Guests also enjoy a river boat ramp, fishing areas and a group picnic area. A highlight of camping here overnight is that easy access to Highway 40 opens up possibilities for exploring multiple attractions in the area.

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stunning dinosaur exposision at the Dinosaur Museum

6. Split Mountain Campground

RV and Tent Camping

Bonus: Contains a group site with room for up to 25 guests

Rest your bones near dinosaur bones dating back 149 million years when you sleep under the stars at Split Mountain Campground inside Dinosaur National Monument. Located near the park’s famed dinosaur quarry, this campground is situated at an elevation of 4,800 feet. This campground’s enviable location places you right next to the Split Mountain Boat Ramp that is an exit point for rafting trips through the canyons of Dinosaur National Monument.

Camping Amenities

Split Mountain Campground is open all year round. Water and flush toilets are available during a period lasting from early April through October. Guests can access vault toilets during the spring, fall and winter only. All sites come with picnic tables and campfire rings with grills.

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7. Rainbow Park Campground

Tent Camping

Offering views of the Green River from inside your unzipped tent, Rainbow Park Campground is a lovely spot situated next to the boat ramp at the head of Split Mountain Canyon. While this campground is open around the year, the unpaved road leading to the campsites becomes impassable when wet due to rains or flooding. This is a no-reservation campground.

Camping Amenities

Be warned that amenities are a bit lacking at Rainbow Park Campground. Campers do not get access to water or toilets. However, sites do include picnic tables and campfire rings with grills. The campground also offers trash and recycling. A permit is required for the boat launch if you’re choosing this campground specifically for river access.

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camping in dinosaur national monument-fascinating rock formations at Dinosaur National Monument

8. Rangely Camper Park

RV and Tent Camping

The closest town to Dinosaur National Monument, Rangley makes a phenomenal base for people coming to the area to explore fossils, caves, trails and more. Rangely Camper Park is a very neat camping spot that is maintained by the municipality of Rangley. Enjoy the shade of mature cottonwood trees in campsites nestled near the beautiful White River. A fishing pond stocked with trout is a highlight of the campground. This is a very family-friendly campground featuring paved sites that are easy to access.

Camping Amenities

The list of amenities at Rangely Camper Park includes hot showers, clean bathrooms, a waste dump and electricity hookups. You’ll be located within a mile of downtown Rangely when staying at this campground. Once in downtown, you can enjoy restaurants and shops.

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camping in dinosaur national monument-dinosaur bone artifact wall

9. Kenney Reservoir

RV and Tent Camping

Located just beyond Rangely, Colorado’s Kenney Reservoir places you just a 30-minute drive outside of Dinosaur National Monument. The campground here is easily accessible from Highway 64. This is a great pit stop if you’re looking to fit in a little trout fishing on your way to Dinosaur. Each spring, the lake here is packed with 5,000 rainbow trout. The wetland area surrounding the reservoir is home to a bevy of wildlife species covering bald eagles, elk, mule deer, blue herons, ospreys and more.

Camping Amenities

Camping is open at Kenney Reservoir from the early part of April until the lake begins freezing near the end of fall. Most years, that means some point during the middle part of November. The campground contains bathroom facilities and covered picnic tables.

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10. Swinging Bridge

Tent Camping

Swinging Bridge is a primitive campground located within the Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge in Maybell, Colorado. The drive from Swinging Bridge to Dinosaur National Monument is just under two hours. The campground at Swinging Bridge is located directly along the same Green River that cuts through many of the campgrounds within Dinosaur. Many people come here to enjoy the access to hiking, fishing, hunting and wildlife observation offered by the Maybell area. While pets are permitted at this campground, they must be leashed or confined at all times.

Camping Amenities

The amenities offers at Swinging Bridge include fire rings, pit toilets and a boat ramp. This is the rare campground that caters to equestrian campers. While horses are not permitted to stay in campsites overnight at Swinging Bridge, the campground does provide a corral where horses may be kept. Trash dumpsters are not provided. Camping is completely free at Swinging Bridge.

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beautiful colors at Dinosaur National Monument

11. Fossil Valley RV Park

RV and Tent Camping

Welcome to the heart of Utah’s “Dinosaurland.” This high-energy, family-friendly camping spot in Vernal, Utah, is a 20-minute drive from Dinosaur National Monument. In fact, staying here puts you just minutes away from Dinosaur National Monument, Dinosaur Quarry, the Utah Field House of Natural History and Dinosaur Gardens and the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.

Camping Amenities

In addition to dozens of RV sites with level gravel parking spaces and full hookups, this campground offers tent sites with grass and trees. The long list of amenities offered by this RV park includes Wi-Fi, large restrooms with showers, 22 antenna channels, picnic tables, laundry and self-storage rentals.

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12. Steinaker State Park Campground

RV and Tent Camping

This is another campground situated in the heart of Utah’s “Dinosaurland.” Situated just seven miles north of Vernal along Utah’s Highway 191, Steinaker State Park Campground is a 50-minute drive from Dinosaur National Monument. This campground is a dream for people heading into the wilds of Utah and Colorado for some water sports. Steinaker is famed for its sandy beaches offering opportunities for swimming, boating and waterskiing. Additionally, this year-round campground offers generous amounts of largemouth bass and rainbow trout.

Camping Amenities

Steinaker State Park Campground offers modern restrooms, drinking water and sewage disposal. The configuration is divided between 11 standard campsites, eight full-hookup campsites, eight partial-hookup campsites and 12 tent-only campsites. There is also a fish-cleaning station.

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camping in dinosaur national monument-hiking

Doing Dinosaur National Monument Camping Your Way

It’s clear to see that it’s really a case of choosing your own adventure when it comes to camping in Dinosaur National Monument. While Dinosaur is truly one of the best spots for camping in the world, you might want to branch out just a bit to try some of the sleepier, more primitive campsites located between 20 minutes and two hours from the entrance to the park. Balancing your trip between rugged river sites and one of the “luxury” RV parks loaded with amenities can be a great way to get a taste of all that America’s “dinosaur country” has to offer!

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