Dinosaur National Park approaching full opening | CraigDailyPress.com

Dinosaur National Park approaching full opening

Scott Schlaufman

Dan Johnson said Dinosaur National Monument should be fully open in time for Easter, if all goes as planned.

"Barring any kind of major blizzard or something blowing in … our hope is to try to get things open before the end of April," said Johnson, the monument's chief of interpretation.

The Canyon Area Visitor Center, located off U.S. Highway 40 near Dinosaur, and all campgrounds in the park opened Friday. Entry to the monument is free, although there are fees for some campgrounds.

The only part on the Colorado side of the monument left to open is the remainder of Harpers Corner Road, which is closed at Plug Hat Butte.

The road is scheduled to open April 22, Johnson said.

"It's taking a little longer because of snow and drifting they have up there," Johnson said.

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He said crews have dealt with layers of ice up to two-feet thick on the roads, and up to six feet of snow.

"They have managed to punch one lane through the snow all the way through the end, but they're going to be basically spending next week clearing out the parking areas and all of that stuff," Johnson said.

The Utah side of the monument, four miles north of Jensen, is still operating out of the Temporary Visitor Center until construction finishes on two new buildings opening Oct. 4.

He said the main building will be the Quarry Visitor Center, which will feature several exhibits, a theatre that shows a film on the park, an information desk, offices and restrooms.

The visitor center will also be the pickup point for shuttle busses that go to the quarry.

The second building, on the old visitor center location, will have fewer amenities but allow visitors to get out of the elements near the quarry.

"There will be some exhibits, but it's going to be more of a minimal approach to that facility," Johnson said.

The finished construction will give visitors a chance to see the quarry wall, which contains about 15,000 dinosaur bones, for the first time since 2006.

Johnson said the park had unpredictable weather this season, and because of snow, park visitors who are rafting will need to be careful in the Yampa River.

"We are looking at, depending on what the weather does, very high predicted flows for the Yampa, especially," he said.

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Dinosaur National Monument:

• The Canyon Area Visitor Center, 4045 U.S. Highway 40 near Dinosaur, is currently open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. For more information, call 374-3000.

• Harpers Corner Road will open beyond Plug Hat Butte on April 22.

• The Temporary Visitor Center, located four miles north of Jensen, Utah, on State Highway 149, is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. For more information, call 435-781-7700.

• The new Quarry Visitor Center will open Oct. 4.

— There are no entry fees to the monument, although fees apply to some campgrounds.