Dinosaur Museum in Vernal
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20 Fun Things To Do In Vernal Utah

Are you looking for fun things to do in Vernal, Utah?  Wait. Maybe you have never heard of Vernal, Utah?

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?Location of 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

Springhills Suites 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.

Springhill 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 Springhill Suites.  We looked into camping but decided to just get a hotel room instead.

1. Things to Do in Vernal Utah – Take a City TourVernal Utah Murals

Murals

Vernal, Utah 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 in all of the murals.

All of these murals are located on the main street throughout town.  It was very easy to find parking spots around these locations.

This is Vernal

This is Vernal Utah Tour

Dinosaurland

Dinosaurland Vernal tour

We loved seeing all the dinosaur paintings around town.  We had fun playing around and posing in front of the Murals.

2. Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum 

It is also referred to as 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

Adults: $7

Children: 6-12: $3.50

Family Favorite

If you have dinosaur lovers in your family then you have to stop by this museum.  This museum doesn’t take very long to view and will be your kid’s favorite stop in town.

Outdoor Area

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.

3. Vernal Farmers Market

Farmers Market in Vernal

Hours

Saturdays in the summer from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Honestly, in Utah, farmer’s markets are a big thing.  Every city has festivals and markets all summer long. 

Shop Around

It was so wonderful to walk around and look at all the fun booths.  My daughter was so excited to buy some jewelry.  We loved this event! 

While we did see some produce, we mainly saw crafts and other goods for sale.

Library and Heritage Museum

Heritage Museum in Vernal

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.

4. Library

Library in Vernal Utah

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 farmer’s market. As they hightailed it to the library, they soon also saw characters from other movies, such as Star Wars.

5. Heritage Museum

Heritage Museum Vernal

Across from the library and also very close to the farmer’s market is the Heritage Museum.

Admission

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 Vernal Utah. 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 the 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 timepieces.

Upper Floor

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 and 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.

Reward

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.

Quilt Competition

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.  

This is a really fun thing to do in Vernal Utah! 

Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum and Temple

Pioneer Museum in Vernal Utah

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 statue on top of the angel Moroni. Located across the street is the Daughters of the Pioneer Museum, another free museum!

6. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Temple

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Temple Vernal

We love stopping by and seeing the beautiful temples around the world.  This temple was where my brother was married.  It is very beautiful.

7. Daughters of the Utah Pioneer Museum

Daughters of the Utah Pioneers

Admission and Hours

Free

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.

Scavenger Hunt

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 lacework. 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.

This is a really fun thing to do in Vernal with kids! 

8. Little Sweet Pea Candy ShopLittle Sweet Pea in Vernal Utah

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

Sweet Pea Candy Shop

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. This was one of my favorite things to do in Vernal Utah!

9. Things to Do in Vernal – Go To The Park

Ashley Valley Community 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!

10. Copula – Old Tabernacle 

Cupoloa at the Ashley Valley Park

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

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 to before.

11. Dinosaur National Monument

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

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

Dinosaur National Monument is actually in both Utah and Colorado. It is quite large.  You could drive an 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.

Josie’s Cabin

One of our favorite things 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.

12. Things to Do Near Vernal Utah – Flaming Gorge

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!

Boat Rentals

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 that I didn’t plan ahead!

13. Things to Do Near Vernal – River RaftingRiver Rafting on the Green River

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 commonplace 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.

14. Things to Do Near Vernal – Fantasy CanyonFantasy 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.

Rock Formations

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
animals.

15. Moonshine Arch

Moonshine Arch near Vernal

Image courtesy of the hiking project.

Moonshine Arch is located about 20 minutes North of Vernal.  It is a very popular hike.

Distance: 2.9 miles out and back

Easy

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!

16. Jones Hole and Fish Hatchery

Jones Hole and Fish Hatchery

Image Courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife

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.

17. Outlaw Country- Butch Cassidy-Historical DriveButch Cassidy Outlaw

This whole area near Vernal was Outlaw country in the late 1800s.  Its 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.

18. Scenic Backways and BywayScenic Drives Near Vernal

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.

18. 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.

19. Sheep Creek Canyon and Spirit Lake 

These drives are geological areas where you can cover millions of years in about a 20-minute drive.

20. 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 Utah!Things to do in Vernal

Would you have ever thought there could be so many fun things to do in Vernal Utah?  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 Utah.

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97 Comments

  1. It’s so great when you can get the inside scoop, from friends or family of all the not to miss things to do. Thanks for letting us in on them too.

  2. My grandson would love that dinosaur on the wall. Dinosaurs are his thing. This looks like a great place to visit.

  3. I love seeing horses whenever I travel. Wild horses are a special treat. There is so much to do in Vernal! Thanks for the info!

    1. It was pretty awesome seeing the horses crossing the remote hwy. We were able to stop and watch them because there were no other cars on the road!

  4. Wow, there are a lot of great things to do in Vernal. It looks like a fantastic place to spend a long weekend!

  5. Vernal looks really fun! I like the murals, and my daughter would love all the dinosaur stuff. I just visited Utah for the first time in my life this past July. It’s a beautiful state. I can’t wait to go back and explore some more.

  6. I can see how a week might not be enough time to explore everything in Vernal, Utah. Thank you for opening my eyes to Vernal, Utah. Also, I really liked your first photo of the dinosaur peeking around the flowers. Super cool.

  7. Wow! There are so many things to do around Vernal! My kids would love the candy store and all of the dinosaur activities.

  8. I love all the dinosaur activities to do in the area. The National Museum as well as the Dinosaur Museum. I know my kids would love to see both.

  9. I absolutely love that there is such a thing as a Dinosaurland and that’s it’s so close to so many beautiful landscapes! You have definitely put Vernal on our radar!

  10. Wow…so much to do here and nearby. I would especially love to check out the Dinosaur Museum (so many fun things!) and the Dinosaur Monument.

  11. We were just in Utah but hadn’t heard of Vernal. Looks like we need to plan a trip back. So many great things to do in this area.

  12. This is a place I’ve always wanted to visit because my Grandfather is from here. This is a fun post for me. I’m pinning it for sure so I can get back there and check it out.

  13. I’ve spent a lot of time in Utah but never in Vernal.. I’m going to have to visit it looks like so much fun!

  14. Your photos from Fantasy Canyon and Moonshine Arch are incredible! (not to mention the pink dinosaur)

  15. We were just in Vernal too! It’s definitely a family favorite! I’ll have to add the Little Sweet Pea Candy Shop to our itinerary next time.

  16. You certainly made the most of this area regardless of the boat rental. Wow! You don’t see a lot of wild horses that close!

  17. We are moving to Colorado next month. I am looking forward to exploring the western part of the country. Will add Vernal to the list.

  18. My son is really into dinosaurs right now, so this looks like the perfect getaway place for him. I’d never heard of it before now.

  19. Looks like such a great time. I have to be completely honest, the candy shop would be my FIRST stop! Ha! Thank you for sharing.

  20. What a neat place! I had no idea about it, but now I want to go! All of the dinosaur stuff would be so cool to see. And I love those murals!

  21. Very cool! I’m pretty sure I have pictures of me visiting here at a very young age and don’t remember. I should plan to take my grandson in a few years so he can remember the trip, and so will I. haha

  22. This looks like a great place to stop and visit! The last time we were in Utah on our way to Denver we went south from Salt Lake City via Moab/Green River. Next time I’ll keep Vernal in mind.

    1. Moab is a great area too! You could go up and do this area and then head over to Rocky Mountain National Park!

  23. OMG! My kids LOVE dinosaurs. They would enjoy Vernal so much! Utah is actually not that far from CA. I think we’ll put this in my bucket list! Thanks for sharing. I loved the murals.

  24. I’ve heard of Vernal now, LOL! Love that the scenic drive has horses randomly crossing!!

  25. When I think of Utah, I always think about the beautiful out worldly landscapes. Little did I know that there’s so many things to see and do there. Love that arch! Love your post.

  26. What a super cool place! I still have yet to make it to Utah. I even have friends that live there, so I don’t have much of an excuse, except now with Covid. That is a really cool looking library — one of the neatest I’ve seen, really. And that beautiful gorge and river rafting… I know I’d love it. I enjoyed visiting through your photos!

  27. Haven’t heard of Vernal before… but then again, I haven’t made it to Utah yet either! So much great information packed into this post! Thanks for all the pointers!

  28. My Older son would love this place!!! You’re right, never heard of it until now but glad you wrote this post highlighting it. Just pinned it to plan a trip once this Covid calms down.

  29. Looks like a great trip. Somehow I never think of dinosaurs in Utah. Love the scenery and the variety of things to do. Thanks.

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