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Rifle State Park and Dinosaur National Monument

Memorial Day vacations are for suckers!  Go the following weekend and avoid the crowds (aka cluster fucks).

Due to the current COVID crap that is going on we both reached our vacation day caps so our employers told us to take a couple of days off.

Since we finally got some good weather (aka spring) we felt a road trip was in order.

Unfortunately four days isn't enough to head down to Telluride or Durango so we opted to head over to Utah and visit Dinosaur National Monument.

Now, in all fairness, we knew that the visitor center and quarry at the monument were closed and that we were taking non essential travel but being cooped up in the house with nothing to do was just not going to happen.  Period.

We got our camera bags packed, truck loaded and booked a hotel in Vernal, UT.  Vernal is the closest town to the monument.

Not a lot of good hotels in town.  Most of them dumps and with all of the COVID stuff going a we didn't know what our food options would be so a kitchenette was a must.  A little searching on Expedia and we found TownPlace Suites by Marriott.  $95 a night.  Cool.

Our plan was to take highway 70 through Vail so we could stop at Rifle State Park and shoot the waterfalls with our Lee Filters then head north up to Vernal.

One thing that is nice about COVID is that traffic is a lot lighter.  We averaged a constant 65 mph speed which was awesome.  There were a few construction projects along the way but nothing to complain about.

We arrived at Rifle State Park around 10am and were shooting pictures a few minutes later.

The need to feed took us over so we decided to eat lunch before taking a few more shots.

Within the half hour break, the park quickly filled up with people.  The people had no respect for the park.  Kids climbing on the rocks, hanging out under the waterfalls and dogs running with reckless abandon.  Fuckers.  We left.  I hate people.

We arrived in Vernal in the mid afternoon and checked in to our hotel.  The hotel front desk clerk was not wearing a mask.  Not a good sign.  

The room was better than expected.  We had an induction stove, full size refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave.  No oven.  Minimal pots and pans with silverware service for two.  Perfect.

Off to the grocery store for consumables.

Once again we didn't see anybody wearing masks outside of the store.  We put our mask on and when we went inside, the only people wearing masks were the store employees.  Most likely they were wearing them due to store policy.  We couldn't believe it.  People would stare at us like we were idiots.  

We picked up some breakfast items (eggs, milk, cheese, butter etc) and some basic lunch stuff to hold us over for the next day.  

We perused the household cleaning aisle and found plenty of bleach, Clorox wipes, disinfectants, toil et paper and hand sanitizer.  WTF?  We cannot find any of these items in Colorado.  Needless to say, we bought these items as well.

We dropped off the groceries at the hotel and then went in search of finding a nice dark area out of town in hopes of doing some starry night shots.  

Without an actual plan, we could find a suitable place so we basically found a dirt road off of the freeway and parked.  The sky began to get cloudy and got progressively worse.  We took a few shots of the sunset and headed back to the hotel for the evening.

By the time we got back to the hotel and had a quick dinner we both pooped out.  I set the alarm for 0600 so we could get on the road early for our day trip at Dinosaur National Monument.

0600 came and went and I think we got up around 0700 and got on the road about 0830.  

It is only a short drive to the Utah side of the monument.  Since the visitor center and quarry were closed we were just planning on taking some photos of the petroglyphs before heading back to the Colorado side of the monument. 

Is that an alien on the left side?  What else could it be?  Iggy Pop?

10am and it is already 78 degrees.  

We met up with a couple of visitors who suggested taking the Sound of Silence trail before heading back to the Colorado side.  Since we had plenty of time in the car already we decided to heed their advice.

The hike was a three mile loop trail. Since the temperature was rising fast we only ended up walking a good mile in before turning around.  We took a few pictures before heading back to the truck.  It was now 90 degrees with no shade in site.

The only shade tree on the trail. Good place for a cool drink of water!

Did I mention that the ranger station was unattended and we didn't have to pay the entry fee?  

So far, we only saw two other cars in the park.  Since the camp grounds were closed they must have decided it was cheaper just to leave the gate open than to pay someone to sit there all day.

Off to the other side of the park via Dinosaur, Colorado...

Once again, the ranger station was abandoned.  Not like the fucking Government to squeeze a buck out of someone.  

Not a lot of picture taking here.  Just a few shots from the overlooks before taking a twelve mile drive down to the bottom of the canyon.  The drive down was planned since the road is restricted to high clearance vehicles.

During our drive through the park, we found a great photo spot for some night photography.  Once again, the sky clouded up big time and our plan was foiled.  Clouds are like children.  Who needs them (at night).  Let me be clear.  No clouds at night and no kids period.  

Back to the hotel for dinner and relaxation before heading home tomorrow.

Until next time...


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