Each year I look to plan a ride that will take my dad, who lives in Connecticut, to new and exciting places. It started innocently enough with simple ATV rides in Colorado, which over time grew into more epic rides through the southern Colorado areas of Silverton, Telluride and Ouray. Eventually, being bound to a trailer was too limiting. It was time to get him out on the road - and they didn't all have to be paved either!
So last year, with me on a 2007 BMW 1200GS Adventure and my dad on my 2007 Kawasaki KLR 650, we took off on a 1200-mile northwestern Colorado, eastern Utah trip through picturesque scenery and off-road terrain. We headed out from Denver, in perfect weather, toward our day-one destination, the Dinosaur National Monument (DNM). After a nice lunch and some great onion rings in Steamboat Springs, we arrived in the town of Dinosaur minutes before the visitors' center closed. Dinosaur used to be called Artesia, but officially changed its name in 1966 to capitalize on its close proximity to DNM. Since the main entrance to the park is on the Utah side, we decided to keep on riding to Vernal, UT.
We got an early morning start over to DNM, and after the obligatory shots of riding on a brontosaurus we were in. Knowing that the Quarry Visitor Center hasn't been open since 2006, we pressed on and met up with a ranger who informed us about the rich history of the park. We took a brief hike, discovered some smaller fossils, and talked about returning some day to see the bigger ones when the quarry reopens.
Heading up towards Flaming Gorge, we stopped for lunch at the Flaming Gorge Resort, where we had a couple of great hamburgers to keep us fueled for the day. The Flaming Gorge area is simply breathtaking. About halfway through the park on the east side, on Route 191, you cross over a scenic bridge and arrive at the Flaming Gorge dam, which rises 502 feet above the bedrock and impounds the water of the Green River for approximately 91 miles to the north. You can take a tour of the dam and go inside it to get a real appreciation for this technical marvel.