Weekend Trip: Dinosaur National Monument

People warned us that life would get crazy after having a child, and they were right! Parker is now 16 months old and never stops running except for sleep. He is so fun to be around, but so tiresome at the same time. On top of that, Nate is working while going to school, and I am working several (stay at home) jobs. So yeah, life has gotten crazy.

Several months ago, Nate and I sat down to review our schedules and physically took a deep breath together. It feels like the only time we have as a family is limited to the weekends, and even then we normally have social activities planned. Well, we saw that our calendars had a free weekend and we quickly cleared it for family-only time.

Mariah and Nate FrenchThen came the fun part – planning! Should we stay at home? No, because when we stay home we don’t do anything except lounge around letting the house get messy. We considered taking a weekend trip to Yellowstone National Park, inviting family to come with us, and stay in an AirBnB. However, that was soon becoming a big social event and it didn’t seem as fun for us.

After researching things to do in Utah, we decided to explore the Dinosaur National Monument. Comment below if you have been there!

I booked us a two-night stay at Quality Inn in Vernal, Utah. We packed our suitcase, play pen and stroller, and we were off on our weekend getaway.

What a weekend getaway it was!

Dinosaur National Monument Trip

Day 1

We arrived in Vernal on a Saturday and immediately went to see the dinosaurs. There were fossils everywhere! The visitor center, the quarry (it’s literally a huge wall with real fossils that they haven’t excavated), and all around the park were full of bones.

Nate and Parker at Dinosaur National Monument Mariah French at Dinosaur National Monument Quarry at Dinosaur National Monument


That night we checked in at the hotel and took Parker to their heated indoor swimming pool. Parker hasn’t enjoyed pools much so we were cautious when putting him in. Surprisingly though, he loved it!

Hands down one of our favorite parts of the weekend was seeing Parker light up when Nate would lift him out of the water and let his floatie catch him on the way down. Probably because it wasn’t cold water, Parker finally felt comfortable in a pool. Plus, the indoor aspect kept the sun from blinding his eyes. It’s a very nice place to take a child!

Day 2

The next day we got dressed and went to church. One of the great things about being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that the churches are the same no matter what location you’re in. All you have to do is go to the church’s website, type in your address, and boom! Several of the nearest church buildings and the times of their services are all available.

After church, we stopped back at the hotel to change clothes and eat lunch (that we stole from the continental breakfast – yum!), then we headed for the Dinosaur National Park again. This time though, we drove into the heart of it to see Native American petroglyphs and pictographs.


Mariah French at Dinosaur National Monument Petroglyphs at Dinosaur National Monument Couple at Dinosaur National Monument

Since Nate and I both love history and cultures, this was the perfect spot for us. We learned so much! For example…

Did you know the difference between petroglyphs and pictographs is that petroglyphs are carvings and pictographs are paintings?

Did you know that the Fremont people used to inhabit the land and the lizard was their symbol?

Day 3

Monday morning we packed up to leave. Although, we didn’t leave until eating some more of that delicious continental breakfast and going swimming one more time.

Father and Son in pool Family at pool

It might seem small, but it was a major breakthrough for me and Nate to see Parker happy in the water. We were going to soak in every minute we could! Get it? Soak? πŸ™‚

The ride home wasn’t too bad either. It’s only about a 3.5 hour drive. If you’re like us, you bring a book to read in the car as well.


Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to get away from it all. Jump in the water, climb mountains, and take a spontaneous weekend trip!

You can book your next weekend trip here.

Where is your favorite place to get away for the weekend?


4 thoughts on “Weekend Trip: Dinosaur National Monument

  1. We’ve been to Dinosaur, too. We camped in the campground by the stream. Very pretty. When Parker gets a bit older, he can earn Junior Ranger badges. My kids love collecting them on our travels.

    1. That stream is so picturesque! Do you prefer to camp at National Parks? And I am already getting excited for the Junior Ranger badges!

  2. How exciting for the three of you!! We are so very honored to be a part of such a well deserving trip for you and your family. Please come back and see us soon! We really enjoyed having you here!

    1. Thanks, Sarah! We are already planning a trip to take our friends with us and would love to stay with you again! πŸ™‚

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