Are you looking for fun things to do in Vernal, Utah? Wait. Maybe you have never heard of Vernal?
Well you have now. And if you didn’t know,Vernal is also called Dinosaurland. There have been over 13 dinosaur excavations in this area.
We just went and had so much fun! My sister-in-law is from Vernal, and so we got the inside scoop of all the best things to do in Vernal!
You can have fun both in Vernal and in the beautiful, surrounding areas, including Dinosaur National Monument and Flaming Gorge!.
Let’s explore all the things to do in Vernal,Utah!
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Where is Vernal, Utah?
Vernal is located Northeast corner of Utah. It is 173 miles from Salt Lake City, which is about a 3 hour drive.
It is very close to the Colorado and Wyoming state lines.
Hotels in Vernal, Utah
Before you plan your trip to Vernal you may what to book your accommodations. There are a few hotel choices in Vernal.
Springhills Suites, Towneplace Suites, Holiday Inn Express, and a few local motels are available in this area. Vernal is a small town, so I think it’s awesome and am grateful that they have Marriott and Hilton. And at least when I went, at great prices!
We actually decided to stay at the Springhills Suites. We looked into camping but decided to just get a hotel room instead.
Things to Do in Vernal - City Tour
Vernal has some fun, Instagram worthy murals. One of the first things I wanted to do was check them out and take lots of pictures.
Yes, there are dinosaur murals, but there are also other murals as well. And I wasn’t the only one to enjoy them. My son had a great time taking pictures of me by all of the murals.
All of these murals are located on the main street through town. It was very easy to find parking spots around these locations.
This is Vernal
We loved seeing all the dinosaur paintings around town. We had fun playing around and posing in front of the Murals.
Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum AKA Vernal's Dinosaur Museum
The dinosaur museum is one of the top things to do in Vernal!
Hours and Admission
9:00 am – 7:00 pm
Children: 6-12: $3.50
If you have dinosaur lovers in your family than you have to stop by this museum. This museum doesn’t take very long to view and will be your kids favorite stop in town.
There is a small area located outside with lots of fun replicas of dinosaurs. This is a great place to let the imagination run wild. Kids love to pretend and play out here.
Vernal Farmers Market
Saturdays in the summer from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Honestly, in Utah farmers market are a big thing. Every city has festivals and markets all summer long. This year because of COVID most cities have canceled these events.
However, Vernal is in a “green area” for the state meaning that cases are so low that they were allowed to open up completely in May.
It was so wonderful to walk around and look at all the fun booths. My daughter was so excited to buy some jewelry. It made me really happy to see this event taking place.
While we did see some produce, we mainly saw crafts and other goods for sale.
Library and Heritage Museum
Even if an outdoor market is not your thing, there are a couple of places within walking distance that you may want to check out. Located next to the Farmer’s Market is the library and Heritage Museum.
If you are looking for things to do in Vernal, I highly recommend stopping at these two locations.
I know if you are on vacation maybe a library is not going to be on the top of your list, but all of our libraries have been closed for so long our kids were excited to go in a read a few books.
Well, what really caught their attention is that they could see a life size Baymax staring out at them from the upper floor of the library while they were walking around the farmers market. As they hightailed it to the library, they soon also saw characters from other movies, such as Star Wars.
Across from the library and also very close to the farmers market is the Heritage Museum.
Admission to the Heritage Museum is free; donations are welcome.
What to Expect
We loved this museum. It is a fabulous place to take kids. We learned all about the history of the area. Since we had been out to Josie Morris’s cabin the day before (at Dinosaur National Monument), the kids were excited to read more about her.
The exhibits were on a main floor and an upper floor. The main floor had guns, tools, a replica of the boat used by, an early explorer of the area, and other time pieces.
The upper floor has china dolls of most of the first ladies or other female relatives of presidents, with quotes. My youngest daughter really enjoyed looking at the dolls, asking my husband what his favorite was in each case. There are also some replicas of barber tools (and a chair), a washer, and a train.
My kids were able to tell the workers one thing they learned and they received a treat and a sticker. It was an awesome incentive for them to learn, and added excitement to the museum experience.
There was also a quilt competition going on, and quilts were on display in the museum. Both kids and adults could be judges (with different colored papers for kids, as the prizes included kids’ favorites). This was so fun. My kids loved picking their favorites.
Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum and Temple
Just off of Main Street you will see a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It will be the building with a golden statute on top of the angel Moroni. Located across the street is the Daughters of the Pioneer Museum, another free museum!
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Temple
We love stopping by and seeing the beautiful temples around the world. This temple was were my brother was married. It is very beautiful.
Daughters of the Utah Pioneer Museum
Admission and Hours
Monday – Saturday
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
What to Expect
We decided to check it out, and I was so impressed. I am not an antique connoisseur but I could recognize that the collection at this museum was amazing.
Even my kids liked it. There are scavenger hunts that the kids can do that help them locate some pretty cool items.
There are some antique dresses that have the most amazing bead and lace work. Even my 13 year old was impressed.
My little kids couldn’t take their eyes off of a pioneer village replica. They wished they could take it home and play with it. My littlest guy kept asking my husband what house he would live in. He wanted to be lifted up to see in all of the little windows.
Little Sweet Pea Candy Shop
My nephew highly recommended that we take the time to Little Sweet Pea, a candy shop in town. He told me it was amazing and we had to go.
Lots of Choices
Our kids were really excited and this place did not disappoint. They had everything a kid could dream of from taffy to chocolate.
They also gave all of my kids a cute little gift wrapped candy pack as a gift for coming. It was awesome!
We got our chocolate fix and then continued our tour of Vernal.
Things to Do in Vernal - The Park
After touring the entire city, we decided to let our kids play for a little while. My sister-in-law told us to check out Ashley Community Park. This is a spacious park with a pavilion and plenty of play areas. It is located off of 500 N.
The park is very impressive. We stayed for a while the kids got their energy out!
Copula – Old Tabernacle
Located in this park is a copula that was on top of the city’s tabernacle. As the tabernacle was transformed into the temple this piece of history was placed at this park and constructed into a gazebo.
I think it is pretty cool that Vernal takes such pride in its history and preserves it.
We thought there were plenty of things to do in Vernal, Utah and had a great time exploring the city!
Things to Do Near Vernal
There are quite a few day trips you can take from Vernal. Let’s explore some of the top things to do near Vernal.
We were able to get to a few of these places and had a great time. We love seeing new places we have never been before.
Dinosaur National Monument
About 30 minutes from Vernal is Dinosaur National Monument. This is not the same as the dinosaur museum I mentioned earlier. This site is run by the national park service, and displays dinosaur bones where they were found.
Hours and Admission
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
$25 admission fee per vehicle
Reserve Dinosaur Quarry Tickets
Because of Covid-19 you will need to reserve tickets for the shuttle which will cost $1 per person on top of the entrance fee and if you have a National Park pass this is not included. The shuttle takes you from the visitors’ center to the main quarry.
What to Expect at Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument actually in both Utah and Colorado. It is quite large. You could drive and hour and a half and still be in the park.
You can stick to doing the quarry and be done in about an hour. But there is so much more to do. There are many hikes located in the park and also many stops where you can see petroglyphs on the sides of rocks.
We arrived early and spent half a day exploring the monument. We only did the Utah side.
One of our favorite thing’s to do was Josie’s cabin. Various generous owners have preserved this homestead where Josie Morris lived. Our two youngest played some kind of game. I think they were pretending it was their house. All I know for sure is that they didn’t want to leave.
Things To Do Near Vernal - Flaming Gorge
Flaming Gorge is located about an hour and a half north of Vernal. It is a gorgeous lake!
If you love boating and recreating on the lake this is a must in the area. You can rent boats from the two marinas. But don’t make the mistake we did and try to book at the last minute.
Plan ahead and make sure you have a reservation. Spending a day on this lake is a must. This was what I was most looking forward to and I am still mad I didn’t plan ahead!
Things to Do Near Vernal - River Rafting
Below Flaming Gorge dam is by the Green River. Rafting trips are one the most popular things to do in this area.
The Green River actually has some very mild rapids from what is referred to as Little Hole, a common place to debark. I felt comfortable renting a raft and navigating it on our own. It took us about 2.5 hours to float the river.
Stop Along the Way
You can take your raft to the shore and stop along the way. We found sand in a number of places, and were able to get out and play.
If you go farther down the river you may want to seek a professional guide as you will hit Class III and IV rapids
We had a great time and highly recommend a river rafting trip near Vernal.
Things to Do Near Vernal - Fantasy Canyon
Because we were unable to get a boat rental on Flaming Gorge we decided to head an hour south of Vernal to Fantasy Canyon.
The drive to fantasy canyon from Vernal looks very similar to the badlands in South Dakota. This drive is not for the faint of heart. You will be off-roading for at least 5 miles there and 5 miles back to the main road.
But don’t worry; my minivan did awesome. The road is flat and not mountainous. This is an oil area, and so is maintained for trucks and other vehicles.
Fantasy Canyon is a rock formation playground. It is very similar to Goblin Valley in that it has unique rock formations. Goblin Valley is much bigger and more impressive, but we still had a really great time.
Fantasy Canyon is a fun location for kids to use their imaginations and hike around on the rocks. It is in the middle of nowhere, so be prepared for that.
Best Time to Go
It also was really hot but not unbearable in August. We were there early afternoon. I recommend going earlier in the morning in the summer.
Driving back to Salt Lake City from Fantasy Canyon, we went straight when we got off the dirt roads instead of turning back to go to Vernal. This drive was a lot greener, and we saw quite a few
Moonshine arch is located about 20 minutes North of Vernal. It is a very popular hike.
Distance: 2.9 miles out and back
Dogs are allowed
This trail is a pretty good hike for kids. The best time to go is May or September. Summer temperatures make it really hot, but if you go early in the morning you will be fine.
If you have a chance this is a great thing to do in Vernal!
Jones Hole and Fish Hatchery
The Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery is located about an hour north and west of Vernal.
The Fish Hatchery provides four different species of trout used to stock local lakes and ponds. As a visitor you can walk along 50 outside raceways where the fish are kept. There are egg incubation areas and a great description of how the fish are raised.
Hiking at the Hatchery
There is a four-mile hike in this area that is a part of the Dinosaur National Monument. There are pictographs, spectacular views of rock walls rising hundreds of feet above the canyon floor, and wildlife. At the end of the trail the Green River is visible. Picnic tables are located there so you can have a great lunch.
Outlaw Country- Butch Cassidy
This whole area near Vernal was Outlaw country in the late 1800’s. It’s close proximity to the state borders of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming made for a great hideout for outlaws.
Butch Cassidy and many others came to Brown’s Park to hide. If you want to take a historical drive to Brown’s Park Waterfowl Refuge and suspension bridge it is about an hour and a half drive.
Scenic Backways and Byway
Yes, this is a wild horse crossing the road on one of the scenic drives we took near Vernal. Here are a few options for scenic drives near Vernal.
Red Cloud Loop
Red Cloud loop is a beautiful drive but beware that most of the roads are unpaved and can get muddy in bad weather.
Sheep Creek Canyon and Spirit Lake
These drives are geological areas where you can cover millions of years in about a 20 minute drive.
Steinaker Lake and State Park
Steinaker Lake and State Park are located about 12 minutes north of Vernal. This lake is often referred to as little Lake Powell because of its sandstone cliffs. It is a great lake to recreate on.
Now You Know All the Things to Do in Vernal!
Would you have ever thought there could be so many things to do in Vernal? You could easily spend a week in this part of Utah.
Hopefully, this gives you some good ideas of what you can do as you plan your trip to Vernal.
If you have any questions join my Facebook Travel Community. You can ask any questions you have about upcoming trips and everyone is happy to help you plan your trip. I also try to give exclusive travel deals that companies send me. It is a great group to join!