Vernal Travel Guide
It may be in the middle of nowhere, but the small town of Vernal is the ideal base for exploring the engaging geological wonders in this eastern region of Utah. With an elevation of 5,280 feet, Vernal enjoys a pleasant year-round climate; and although few tourists come here for the town itself, it offers all the amenities you’ll need and a cozy place to crash for the night.
Vernal is a small town, and as such you can walk the entire length of the place in a matter of minutes. Nearly all of the shops, motels, restaurants and gas stations can be found along the main street, which has its own charm in a Western, pioneering kind of way.
Since Vernal is the largest community in the region, you may well find yourself bedding down for a few nights as you check out neighboring Dinosaur National Monument, the Ashley National Forest or any of the other state parks, lakes and nature preserves in the area. It’s almost certain you’ll be driving your own car, so don’t miss the chance to cruise the incredibly scenic Flaming Gorge-Uintas Byway, one of the sweetest roads in the southwest.
Western Heritage Museum: local Native American tribes and the early pioneers are presented in this informative and well-organized museum dedicated to local history.
Dinosaur National Park: one of the region’s highlights is this park where visitors can check out ongoing excavations of the bones hundreds of dinosaurs whose remains litter the area.
Ashley National Forest: Utah’s highest mountain and Flaming Gorge are just two of the natural attractions found within the one million acres of this impressive and underused national forest teeming with wildlife and outdoor recreation.
Ouray National Wildlife Refuge: a 12-mile auto route will help you see some of the hundreds of bird species which migrate through this refuge every year.
Red Fleet State Park: a massive reservoir, sandy beaches, dinosaur tracks and beautiful red-rock cliffs await you at this lovely state park, 10 miles from Vernal.
Steinaker State Park: the swimming and fishing at this reservoir is just as scenic as the larger Red Fleet lake, but without nearly as many people.
Flaming Gorge-Uintas scenic byway: this 67-mile scenic route is one of the most beautiful drives in Utah, and shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the area.