Dinos & Petroglyphs: Prehistoric Adventures With Your Grandchild

Experience a titanosaurus-size adventure at Dinosaur National Monument, where you’ll explore archaeological sites, discover ancient rock art and dig for fossils with your grandchild!
Rating (5)
Program No. 21950RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
15 meals
5 B 5 L 5 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Salt Lake City, UT
Plaza Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 5:45 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the hotel conference room to register with the Road Scholar program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will order from the menu with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This program takes place in desert climate conditions, typically very hot in summer. On some walking/hiking field trips, participants may elect to go all or part of the way. Loaner day packs provided; walking poles available. Bring water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, bandanas, cameras; good walking shoes essential. Travel during the program will be primarily by vans. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Utah Olympic Park, Field House of Natural History Museum
Vernal, UT
Dinosaur Inn & Suites

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 177 miles, approximately 4 hours. Walking up to 1/2 mile depending on personal preference; walking and standing at field trip sites.

Breakfast: At the hotel, have what you like from the breakfast buffet that includes coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will hop into vans and travel to Park City to see the world-famous Utah Olympic Park for a photo stop. Olympic athletes may even be training! Our Group Leader will show us around. We will then travel to Vernal with some commentary by our Group Leader along the way. While traveling through the beautiful mountain country, gaze out the window, take in the beautiful scenery, and get excited about what is to come. While traveling, grandkids are encouraged to work on their dinosaur worksheet packets and coloring pages.

Lunch: At a local restaurant with coffee, tea, water included.

Afternoon: Arriving in Vernal, we will go to the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum for a field trip where a member of the staff will lead our exploration. The museum is in an area that reveals more about geology and paleontology than almost anywhere else on earth. Geology is the study of earth sciences and how the earth has changed, while paleontology tells us about the ancient past by studying fossils. We’ll get a virtual look at the natural history of our planet millions of years ago and see full-size replicas of prehistoric animals, actual dinosaur bones, and exhibits on many other forms of life as well as the lives of ancient and more recent Native Americans. We’ll then take a short ride to our hotel and check in.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we will order from the menu with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to take a walk along Main Street, take a swim in the pool, or just relax after a long and adventurous day.

Dinosaur National Monument & Quarry, Stories of Outlaw Gangs
Vernal, UT
Dinosaur Inn & Suites

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 46 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking/hiking during field trip about 1.5 miles, approximately 1.5 hours each way; moderately steep, some stairs, uneven sections and rocky areas. Desert climate conditions, very hot in summer. Loaner day packs provided; walking poles available. Bring water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat; good walking shoes essential. Participants may elect to walk/hike all or part of the way.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will board the vans and travel to Dinosaur National Monument just outside the tiny town of Jensen, Utah. As the National Park Service says, “Dinosaurs once roamed here. Their fantastic remains are still visible embedded in the rocks. Today, the mountains, desert and untamed rivers flowing in deep canyons, support an array of life. Petroglyphs hint at earlier cultures. Later, homesteaders and outlaws found refuge here.” From the Visitor Center, we’ll take their shuttle up to the Quarry Exhibit Hall. There, we’ll meet a Park Ranger and hike along the Fossil Discovery Trail that cuts through several layers of rock. We’ll go through areas where we will be able to see small fossils and even pieces of dinosaur bones. The fossils look like rock, so the Park Ranger will help us understand what we’re seeing.

Lunch: At Dinosaur National Monument Visitor Center, we’ll have boxed lunches.

Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll explore the Quarry Exhibit Hall located over the world-famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry where a Park Ranger will give us a detailed presentation. This “wall of bones” includes some 1,500 preserved fossils. Why are there so many in one place? More than 150 million years ago, there was a terrible drought here. Many dinosaurs gathered along the last remaining rivers and died when the water dried up. Each grandchild will receive a “Dino Pack” to keep that includes a real dino bone, real dino dung (called Coprolite), real dino egg shell, and a magnifying glass to examine these cool items! Grandkids will be also given Ranger Workbooks as a Park Ranger leads this fun and educational presentation. At the conclusion, grandkids will be sworn in as a Dinosaur National Monument Junior Ranger and presented their Park Ranger Badge! After, we’ll take the Park Shuttle back down to the Visitor’s Center and travel to Cub Creek on the Utah side of the Monument to see petroglyphs. From 2,500 to 1,000 years ago, there were Native Americans living here. They have been labeled the Fremont people for the Fremont River, but there were different groups who had different ways of life. They left petroglyphs (images chipped or carved into rock) and pictographs (images painted on rock) that tell us something about their culture. Next, we’ll ride to the Josie Bassett Cabin to learn about Josephine (Josie) Bassett Morris. She led a complicated life to the age of 90, homesteading at this location most of her life, until her death on May 1, 1964. At this location, she built her own cabin and lived mostly off the land — although she may have been a bootlegger and cattle rustler, too!

Dinner: At the Josie Bassett Morris Cabin, we’ll have a picnic dinner in this old log cabin where Butch Cassidy once hung out.

Evening: At the cabin, we’ll hear fascinating presentations, complete with many photos passed around from the Group Leaders about both Josie’s history, her homestead, and other outlaws such as Butch Cassidy and his “Wild Bunch” gang. As we sit back in camp chairs at the cabin, imagine being a cowboy, a settler, or an outlaw and living out West in a box canyon. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Native American Petroglyphs, Red Canyon, Flaming Gorge
Vernal, UT
Dinosaur Inn & Suites

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 108 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking/hiking approximately 2.5 miles total. At McConkie Ranch, 1 mile round-trip; moderately steep, uneven sections, rocky at beginning. Participants may elect to hike all or part of the way. At Red Canyon Overlook, walking about 1/4 mile. At Flaming Gorge Dam, walking about 1 mile. Loaner day packs provided; walking poles available. Bring water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, good walking shoes essential.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will ride to see the world-famous, ancient Dry Fork Canyon petroglyphs on the McConkie Ranch. This is private property, but the owners are happy to allow people to see these important artifacts from an earlier civilization. Most of the images are attributed to the ancient Fremont people and date back more than a thousand years. Archeologists agree that these extremely rare petroglyphs are the best in the world. Next is a “Drive Through the Ages” — the official name for this stretch, so called because there are many layers of sedimentary rock as we gain in elevation from 5,300 feet in Vernal to nearly 8,000 feet and hundreds of millions of years of geological history. Our Group Leader will provide commentary along the way. We’ll also have a brochure that corresponds to geologic signs on the side of the road. We’ll then ride through beautiful Red Canyon and stop at the top for an amazing overlook down into Flaming Gorge. It’s about 1,400 feet to the bottom. In 1869, U.S. explorers in small boats “discovered” this place — where Native Americans had lived for thousands of years — and called in Flaming Gorge for the sun being reflected off the red rocks.

Lunch: At Red Canyon Overlook, we’ll have boxed lunches as we sit in camp chairs enjoying one of the most impressive views down into this 1,400-foot-deep canyon to the deep-blue waters of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, and the waters of the Green River backed up behind Flaming Gorge Dam.

Afternoon: We’ll take a nature walk with a Forest Ranger to learn about the plants, trees, and shrubs at this high elevation in the Ashley National Forest to gain an appreciation of the surrounding habitat and its importance to animals that call this their home. Ever sniffed a tree that smells like butterscotch? We will on this field trip! Our next stop is Flaming Gorge Dam on the Green River, part of the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Foundation work began in 1958 and the dam was completed in 1963. It has been generating power and managing the water supply ever since. The dam is 502 feet high and 1,285 feet along the crest. The vast lake it created extends 91 miles. It also transformed the downriver ecology into what is now a rich fishing area. At the visitor center, we’ll watch the documentary video “Flaming Gorge: Construction of the Dam” then descend with a Ranger hundreds of feet down for a fascinating look at the power plant and a presentation on the dam’s history.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll order from the menu with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Grandkids and the Group Leaders will have a pool party while grandparents have an evening at leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Museum of Ancient Life, Sleep Under Your Favorite Dinosaur
Lehi, UT
Museum of Ancient Life

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 164 miles, approximately 3 hours including rest stops. Walking approximately 1/2 mile in museum; some stairs, ramps.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: In our vans, we’ll travel to Lehi, Utah, arriving at the Museum of Ancient Life around lunch time.

Lunch: At a museum eatery, we’ll order from the menu.

Afternoon: The Museum of Ancient Life is one of the world’s largest dinosaur museums with more than 120 skeletons, hundreds of smaller fossils remain, and 63 interactive exhibits. We’ll start our final dinosaur journey at the six-story-tall Mammoth Screen Theatre and watch a 3-D educational/documentary movie. Then, led by a museum paleontologist, we’ll explore the amazing exhibits, accompanied by the sounds of insects chirping and ancient creatures growling, and be able to touch real dinosaur bones. There are also exhibits where we can become part of the science of paleontology. We’ll be able to investigate the paleontology lab and see real scientists at work.

Dinner: At a local restaurant we’ll have a buffet dinner with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll have a very special Road Scholar exclusive “Dinosnorzzz” night at the museum after it closes to the public. Following more activities and fun presentations with the museum staff such as plaster-casting, fossil identification, and more, we’ll get our luggage out of the vans, go back into the museum, and choose our favorite dinosaur to sleep under. We’ll all help to inflate 10-inch thick air mattresses and make our own beds with provided mattress pads, sheets, quilts, and pillows. Then we’ll watch the movie “Night at the Museum” projected onto the wall. (The museum is large enough for each grandparent-grandchild to have their own spot. There are electrical outlets throughout the museum for those who need to plug in such things as cell phones, tablets, or use a CPAP machine.)

Clean-up, Wrap-up Session, Program Concludes
Lehi, UT

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 45 miles, approximately 1 hour.

Breakfast: After packing up bedding and helping to take bedding storage bins out to the van, we’ll have a hearty breakfast in the café at the Museum of Ancient Life. Choose what you like from the buffet.

Morning: We’ll have time after breakfast for washing up, brushing teeth, changing clothes, etc. We will leave our suitcases in the museum classroom until departure. We’ll then join the museum staff for additional learning and fun dinosaur activities. We’ll also see a slideshow of our week’s activities, share what we’ve learned and our favorite memories, receive Certificates of Completion, and Road Scholar Passport stickers before hopping into the vans and traveling to Salt Lake City for lunch.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Salt Lake City, we’ll order from the menu with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: There will be a transfer to the airport at 1:30 p.m. We advise scheduling flights that depart after 3:30 p.m. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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