Dinosaur summer

Workers ready monument for Memorial Day

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On May 25, Dinosaur National Monument workers will turn on the water at the campgrounds and open summer campsites to paying visitors.

As Memorial Day weekend is normally the lone time during the year that campgrounds are filled to capacity, preparations already are well under way.

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The Colorado side of the monument, or Canyon Area, does not have the dinosaur bones and fossils found at the Utah entrance, but it is rich in spectacular scenic vistas and the impressive Echo Park at the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers.

"We have no rangers living in the monument during the winter. You can't get to Echo Park in winter because of the snow," said Judy Culver with river operations. "A ranger lives in the cabin at Echo Park during the summer, and there's a ranger at Deerlodge, too."

A 32-mile paved road leads into Harper's Corner in the Northwest Colorado portion of the monument. Driving past that point is not recommended for campers or vehicles towing trailers.

Entering the monument from County Road 14N on Mantle Ranch Road also involves negotiating steep grades and sharp curves.

Ancient petroglyphs, Whis-

pering Cave and hundred year-old homesteads can be found in the Canyon Area of the monument.

Camping fees are $8 at Deerlodge, Echo Park and the Gates of Lodore Campground in Browns Park, and group camping for eight to 20 people is allowed at Echo Park for $15.

Backcountry camping is allowed in the monument with a permit obtained from the visitor centers.

Permits are required year-round for floating on the Yampa and Green rivers, with a lottery system used to secure one of the two or three launch permits given out for each day during the high-use season, until July 14.

During the low-use season, one launch per day is permitted.

Currently, there are no vacant float permits until Oct. 15, but cancellations do occur.

The Quarry Visitor's Center remains closed for the 2007 season, but a number of fossils and replicas are on display at the temporary visitor's center near the Utah entrance to the monument.

Six ranger-guided hikes are available each day to fossil areas and historical sites. A pair of self-guided auto tours also are available at the center.

Interpretive Ranger Patty McCourt said the Memorial Day weekend always is busy at the monument.

"We have our seasonal workers in training right now," she said. "We have new fossils and replica displays from the quarry now at the visitor's center. Also the 'build-a-saurus' program for kids."

An old homestead site is located on the Green River in a hidden oasis at the end of the monument road.

Camping at the Green River Campground is $12 per night on a first-come basis, and Split Mountain offers $25 group camping, with a $10 reservation fee to have park employees save you a campsite.

Vehicles entering the monument in Utah pay $10 for a weeklong pass, with higher charges for larger vehicles and campers.

Dinosaur National Monument

Web site -- www.nps.gov/dino

Phone -- (970) 374-3000

River Office -- (970) 374-2468

Visitor's Center, Utah -- (435) 781-7700

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