Outside the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum (on the east side of downtown Vernal) is a life-size slice of prehistory. Passing visitors will gape at the giant replicas that loom over the Dinosaur Gardens. You’ll find a 20-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex with fierce, 6-inch teeth; a bat-winged Pteranodon; a three-horned Triceratops; an enormous Stegosaurus; the birdlike Ornithomimus; the short, squat Moschops; the towering Diplodocus; and many other big-as-life models of prehistoric fauna, 14 in total. This lifelike dinosaur exhibit circles the exterior of the Utah Field House of Natural History Museum.
The grounds are open to the public for free. Bring a picnic and dine in the prehistoric past!
About the Dinosaurs
Tyrannosaurus rex: From the ancient Greek words for “tyrant lizard king,” this dinosaur lived throughout the West and was one of the last dinosaurs to die out. It walked on two legs, and its front limbs were short but powerful. It was easily the largest carnivore in the area.
Pteranodon: These flying creatures had wingspans of more than 20 feet. As we have found many fossil specimens of this animal, we can make very educated guesses about it. They had large crests on their heads and toothless beaks ending in sharp, thin points.
Triceratops: This three-horned plant-eating dinosaur lived about 68 million years ago and was one of the last dinosaurs to go extinct. Growing up to 30 feet long, the Triceratops was probably hunted by the Tyrannosaurus.
Stegosaurus: This heavily armored dinosaur lived during the late Jurassic period between 155 million and 150 million years ago, this heavy giant lived throughout the West but also occupied parts of Europe. It had easily recognizable plates on its back, leading back to sharp spikes on its tail. It had a tiny head in comparison to its huge body.
Ornithomimus: This animal’s name means “bird mimic.” It lived during the late Cretaceous Period of North America. It was most likely covered in feathers and ran on two legs. It had a small, beaked, birdlike head, large brain, and hollow bones.
Moschops: This animal lived in the Guadalupian epoch, somewhere between 265 million and 260 million years ago. It was heavily built and about 9 feet long. It had a heavy jaw with strong muscles. In spite of its intimidating build, it was probably a plant eater.
Diplodocus: This dinosaur lived throughout the West at the end of the Jurassic Period, between 154 million and 152 million years ago. At the time, there were many giant dinosaurs with long necks such as this one. This plant-eater walked on four legs. It is one of the largest known dinosaurs, possibly reaching up to 170 feet in length from head to tail.
Hours & Info
The Dinosaur Garden is outside the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum, 496 E Main Street, on the corner of Main Street (U.S. Highway 40) and 500 East in Vernal, Utah. The garden is free to explore. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, call 435-789-3799.