Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Echo Park, Dinosaur National Monument

Echo Park
Dinosaur National Monument

Date Hiked: May 29, 2011

Distance: varies, but short
Elevation Gain: Negligible
Managing Agency: National Park Service
Fee: $10

Directions:  Echo Park is located off of Echo Park Road, a beautiful dirt road.  From the Canyon Visitor Center off Hwy 40, head north on Harpers Corner Road until you see the sign for the Echo Park turnoff.  Take Echo Park Road down the canyon and bear left at the fork.  Follow the signs pointing to the Echo Park Campground.

Echo Park is not really a hike as much as it is an exploration of one of the prettiest spots in the park.  The Echo Park Campground is the main destination here but the area is situated at an oxbow in the Green River just after it meets up with the Yampa River.  Towering overhead you'll see Steamboat Rock, one of the park's most iconic resources.  From the campground there are various social trails and dirt roads that follow the shoreline and lead up to the striking red rock canyon walls.  If you get the opportunity to camp here, take it, the spot is magical.

The road leading to Echo Park is one of the more adventurous aspects of visiting Echo Park.  Do not attempt to drive the road in the rain as it turns into a dangerous mud flume.  The switchbacks just after Harper's Corner Road can get a bit hairy and steep but the rest of the road is typically fine for passenger cars, check in at the visitor center for the latest info on conditions.

Ruple Point, Dinosaur National Monument

Ruple Point Trail
Dinosaur National Monument

Date Hiked:  May 29, 2011

Distance:  9.5 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain:
Managing Agency: National Park Service
Fee: $10.00

Directions:  From the Canyon Visitor Center off of Hwy 40 just east of the town of Dinosaur, head north on Harpers Corner Road.  The trailhead is about 1 mi north of the turn off to Echo Park.

The hike out to Ruple Point is a fantastic National Park hike.  The trail itself can get a bit monotonous, but the viewpoint destination is amazingly incredible.  This is THE view in the park.  The trail is the longest trail in the park but you should not leave Dinosaur without hiking out to Ruple Point.  For 4 miles, the trail rolls steadily along with nice views of the desert floor beyond the canyon to the North.  The vegetation is interesting although there is very little shade.  Once you get about 4 miles in you’ll descend down and reach your first canyon wall.  The view from here will give you the first taste of what's to come, keep on hiking.  Bear right and climb a rocky trail following the edge of the canyon.  Before too long you’ll pop out of the brush to Ruple Point and your head will simply explode…

The view looks down several thousand feet to the Green River below as it cuts its way through Split Mountain Gorge.  Rafters will look like tiny little ants swimming in the Green River.  Across the river, the red cliffs meld with green vegetation creating an otherworldly landscape.  To the south the Green River carves it's way through Split Mountain.  This is truly a National Park landscape.  There is nowhere to go from this viewpoint so after you’ve soaked it all in, if that’s even possible, head back the way you came.