Sound of Silence Trail
From Vernal, UT, take US 40 east approximately 13 miles to Jensen, UT. Turn north on State Route 149 for seven miles to Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center. The trailhead is approximately 2.5 miles past the visitor center on the north side of the road.
For a USGS topographical map, ask for Dinosaur Quarry. Trail guide books are available at the trailhead.
Dinosaur National Monument, 4545 Highway 40, Dinosaur, CO 81610; (970) 374-3000.
Crossing a wide sandy flat for about 220 yards, the trail enters Red Wash, a dry stream bed. Markers along the way teach and enlighten, a great effort by the staff here to impart knowledge, well worth the walk. The hike follows the wash for about a mile, narrowing in places where bold rocks protrude into the wash, and eventually entering a labyrinthine jumble of rock in which the route consistently bears right at junctions. Climbing onto a bench, the trail offers a view of whitish Split Mountain to the north, solidified sand dunes from 300 million years past. Continuing along the bench, the trail is looping back towards the starting point, and here the guide book becomes an important part of route finding. The hike goes uphill, crosses a slope, descends a sandstone ledge, contours up another slope to a saddle, descends a gully, and finally reenters Red Wash not far from the trailhead.
Special notes: Watch your step. The black crust on the dry surface of the ground is called microbiotic soil, a community of algae, fungi, and moss, and an important part of desert ecology. A fragile living thing, one careless step may destroy a half-century of growth.
Information courtesy of Buck Tilton, author of Utah Hiking.
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