Utahraptor State Park
Utah's new state park is a roaring good time.
What do Utah’s newest park and your 8-year-old nephew have in common? They’re both crazy about dinosaurs, and they’ve both got a lot of cleanup to do before they’re ready to invite anyone over. Read more …
The Dalton Wells and Willow Springs area just next to Arches National Park might not seem like much to the naked eye, but that just shows how little the naked eye knows. Put some clothes on and get a job already, naked eye! What you can’t see at first glance — what paleontologists have been working for decades to see — are the thousands of unique dinosaur fossils buried under the rocks and soil. That’s where the name comes in.
So what’s a Utahraptor? Oh not much, only one of the most iconic dinosaur species in history. The Utahraptor was essentially the same as the infamous Velociraptor, except it was much bigger, loved to ski and drank a lot of Diet Coke. Fun fact — the Velociraptors in “Jurassic Park” were actually modeled more closely after Utahraptors than they were their actual namesake.
What other dinos were discovered in this future state park? There’s Gastonia, a squat genus with armored spikes to repel tourists, and the aptly named Moabosaurus, whose long neck helped it set climbing routes for shorter friends. Paleontologists expect that thousands more of these and other dinos will be discovered in the area in the future.
Not all the history of the area is quite as ancient, and some of it fills the darker pages of our country’s past. In 1943, during World War II, the area was used as an internment camp for Japanese Americans. The Dalton Wells CCC Camp is currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places, although no marker exists there as of now. It’s not known how the park will memorialize the victims of this misguided and inhuman program, but visitors can be sure to expect a monument of some kind.
Once completed, Utahraptor State Park will have trails for hiking, mountain biking and ATV/OHV use. There will also be campgrounds, restrooms and information about the unique paleontologic history of the region. There will be plenty to do at Utahraptor State Park, but ultimately this park is about protection more than recreation. As with so many places in Utah, this area is truly unique to the world — it’s got the most accessible Cretaceous era fossils on the planet — and as recreation and tourism grow in the area, environmental stewardship is more important than ever. So leave any bones you find behind — seriously — and stay tuned for more updates on this unique new state park.
OHV and ATV trails
Only primitive camping sites are currently available, however, a modern campground will be constructed in the near future. Camping is available along Dalton Wells and Willow Springs roads at sites with preconstructed fire pits. Creating new campsites or fire pits will result in a citation.
$15 camping fee per vehicle while under construction. Primitive campsites only.
Main Utah State Parks Office
1594 W. North Temple, Suite 116
Salt Lake City UT 84116