Category Archives: places

flaming gorge national recreation area

We headed homeward from Dinosaur National Monument by driving through Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. This whole area of the northeast corner of Utah was beautiful to drive through, and we saw a lot of deer. We stopped at Red Canyon to go for a short walk and enjoy the amazing views, which even panoramic photos do not do justice.

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dinosaur national monument

We had a great day visiting Dinosaur National Monument in July. The huge park stretches from western Colorado to eastern Utah, but we only visited the Utah side since we really wanted to focus on the dinosaur bones and petroglyphs.

Our first stop was the Quarry Exhibit Hall, shortly after it opened for the day. It was awesome to see the exposed dinosaur bones as they were discovered in the quarry, and to even touch some of the fossilized bones! There were also some nice reconstructions of dinosaur skeletons.

The landscapes outside of the Quarry Exhibit Hall were also incredible.

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The Green River flows through the park, and rafting down the river would have been a fun adventure.

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After a short drive from the Quarry Exhibit Hall, we stopped to see petroglyphs and pictographs left by the Fremont people that lived in this area about a thousand years ago. We then continued driving to see more of these ancient carvings and drawings at another location farther from the Quarry Exhibit Hall, and enjoyed a picnic in a nice shady spot near a historic homesteader’s cabin.

dinah the pink dinosaur

After our weekend in Steamboat Springs, we continued west to Vernal, Utah (our home base for exploring Dinosaur National Monument). My favorite thing about Vernal was this gigantic pink dinosaur that welcomes you to the small city.

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If you stop to admire her, you’ll notice that her eyes move.

fish creek falls

Fish Creek Falls is a short waterfall hike in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We didn’t have much time to linger there, but this area seemed to be a very popular picnic destination.

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hot springs in steamboat springs

There are two great hot springs options in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The Old Town Hot Springs are easy to get to, and great for kids since the the temperatures of the various hot spring pools are regulated between 98°F and 103°F. Plus, there is a regular warm shallow pool, big water slides, and a kiddie play area.

Strawberry Park Hot Springs is a completely different hot springs experience. After a short, pretty drive from town, you will find a very natural hot springs setting. The Strawberry hot spring pools were beautiful and unique, but a little too hot for our family to truly enjoy being in them on the morning we visited (the springs naturally fluctuate slightly in temperature and these pools are not temperature-regulated).

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hot air balloon rodeo

We went to Steamboat Springs in July and attended the 37th annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo on an early Saturday morning. It was spectacular to see so many colorful balloons being inflated and then lifting off into the sky.

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reservoir ridge

We celebrated the Fourth of July by going for a hike at Reservoir Ridge Natural Area. These wild sunflowers made me smile as we climbed the long uphill trail.

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medicine bow national forest

Over Memorial Day Weekend, we drove through the Medicine Bow National Forest on our way to Saratoga, Wyoming. There was still a lot of snow left at the higher elevations of the forest, which was really refreshing after the warm weather we left at home in Fort Collins.

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We stayed on the Saratoga border of the forest, at a small cabin at the Ten Mile Inn. We loved taking in the beautiful views around the cabin, and watching hummingbirds flitting around the inn.

saratoga, wyoming

Saratoga, Wyoming is a small town located in the Platte River valley between the Snowy Range and Sierra Madre Mountains. Downtown Saratoga is tiny but charming, reminiscent of a scene from a classic western movie.

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One of the highlights of Saratoga is the hot spring pool, which has no charge for admission and is always open! The pool was very hot while we were there (a quiet Sunday morning), and a sign warned that the water temperature may exceed 104ºF.

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There is also a smaller “Not So Hot Pool” next to the main pool, but that water felt similar in temperature to us. The hot spring pools are located by a small branch of the Platte River, which is nice for cooling off a bit between soaks in the hot spring pools.

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the great stupa

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is a Buddhist monument to human kindness, located at the Shambhala Mountain Center in the northern Colorado Rockies. The journey there, and the Stupa itself, make for a beautiful day trip.