• Camarasus skull in the cliff face, rafters on the Green River, McKee Springs petroglyphs

    Dinosaur

    National Monument CO,UT

There are park alerts in effect.
hide Alerts »
  • Ely Creek Backcountry Campsites Are Closed

    The Ely Creek backcountry campsites located along the Jones Hole Trail are closed until at least May 1, 2014 due to bear activity. More »

Places to Go: Harpers Corner Area

Located on the Colorado side of the monument, Harpers Corner Drive is a scenic, 32-mile (55-km) road that leads to the heart of Dinosaur National Monument's canyon country. Overlooks offer sweeping vistas of the Green and Yampa river canyons. Several picnic areas and the trailheads of three hiking trails are located just off Harpers Corner Drive. On one trail, sharp-eyed hikers can spot fossils of small sea creatures that lived long ago. Visitors prepared for remote driving conditions can access two unimproved roads from Harpers Corner Drive.

Fuel, food, and other services are not available along Harpers Corner Drive. The nearest services are in Dinosaur, Colorado, two miles west of the Canyon Area Visitor Center on Highway 40.


 
View of Green River and Split Mountain Canyon from canyon edge.

View of Split Mountain Canyon from the end of Ruple Point Trail

NPS

Hiking Trails
Situated on top of a butte, the paved, wheelchair accessible Plug Hat Trail introduces visitors to the pinyon-juniper forest and offers sweeping vistas of the Colorado Plateau landscape.

On the Harpers Corner Trail, situated on a ridge above the Green River, hikers can explore the pinyon-juniper forest and enjoy unsurpassed views of Steamboat Rock, the Green and Yampa rivers, and Whirlpool Canyon.

Ruple Point Trail, which begins at the Island Park Overlook, crosses a rolling terrain and terminates at the edge of Split Mountain Canyon, offering hikers breathtaking views of the canyon and Green River.


 
Picnic table at Canyon Overlook.

Picnic table at Canyon Overlook

NPS

Picnic Areas
Picnic tables are located at the following overlooks:

Plug Hat Butte (4 m/6.5 km from the junction of Highway 40 and Harpers Corner Drive)

Canyon Overlook (20 m/32 km from the junction of Highway 40 and Harpers Corner Drive)

Echo Park Overlook (34 m/55 km from the junction of Highway 40 and Harpers Corner Drive)


 
The Green River in winter

Green River in winter

NPS

Winter Recreation
During the winter, cross-country skiing and snowmobile use are allowed on the closed portion of Harpers Corner Drive, beyond Plug Hat Butte. Throughout the winter, the first five miles of Harpers Corner Drive remain open and plowed to allow public access to the Plug Hat parking area for snowmobile and cross-country ski enthusiasts. Snowmobiles are not allowed off the road surface and may not go past the Echo Park Road turn-off.


 
Brachiopod and crinoid fossils exposed in rock.

The clam-like shell of a brachiopod fossil (upper left) and two crinoid fossils, a stem fragment (center) and a single disk-shaped stem piece (lower right).

NPS

Fossils
At the end of the Harpers Corner Trail, look closely at the rock underfoot. Those with a keen eye and a bit of patience will find the fossilized remains of small sea creatures that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. Look for the clam-like shells of brachiopods and for pieces of the stems of crinoids, ancient relative of the starfish. The rock around these fossils was once mud at the bottom of an ancient sea. There are no dinosaur fossils in the Harpers Corner area.


 
Upper section of the road to Echo Park

Upper section of the road to Echo Park

Unimproved Roads
The turnoff for Echo Park Road is located on Harpers Corner Drive, 25 miles (40 km) from Highway 40. The 13-mile (21-km), unpaved Echo Park Road is steep, with hairpin turns for the first several miles. The road ends at Echo Park which has a campground, boat launch, and hiking trails. Echo Park Road is impassable when wet.

The 27-mile (43-km) Yampa Bench Road, recommended for high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles only, can be reached from the Echo Park Road. Overlooks along the Yampa Bench Road offer sweeping panoramas of the Yampa River and its canyons. Yampa Bench Road is impassable when wet.

A map of the unimproved roads that can be accessed from Harpers Corner Drive is available here.

More information on the roads in Dinosaur NM is available here.

 

Did You Know?

Split Mountain

Split Mountain, the name John Wesley Powell gave to one of the Dinosaur’s most recognizable features, is aptly named: over millions of years, the Green River has carved a canyon into the center of the mountain, splitting it in two.