Dinosaur Trackway trail in Red Fleet State Park was absolutely incredible! The ever changing terrain, colorful rocks, beautiful resivoir at the end and cool dinosaurtracks are a real treat.
This is a moderate 1.7mi out and back trail that crosses sandy washes, ribs of exposed stone, slickrock, and a dinosaur trackway. So, in total it’s a little over 3 miles long.
If you find yourself in Vernal, UT, the hike is worth the effort.
Let’s explore some Dino tracks!
Where is Dinosaur Trackway trail head?
To get to the trailhead, from Vernal, drive north on Rt 191 and turn right onto Donkey Flat Road. The turnoff is 1 mile past the main entrance to Red Fleet State Park.
Follow the Donkey Flat Rd for 2.3 miles where the small parking lot and trailhead will be on the right.
The trailhead lot is small and fills quickly. So arrive early. There were no spots, so we drove down a little, turned around and found several spots open.
There’s a bathroom at the trailhead. Best to use it before hiking.
The trail begins directly behind the bathroom and informational signs.
The hiking trail
The trail starts off with several small uphill ascents and downhill descents. On occasion, the trail evolves into a large rock slab.
Fortunately, the trail signs and painted dinosaur tracks along the way make it easy to follow. And, of course fun for kids!
Definitely wear good hiking shoes as the terrain is sandy, rocky, steep, and can be slick at times. It keeps changing.
It feels short because of the constant change in terrain. In other words, it’s not monotonous.
There are outstanding views of red rock and beautiful rock formations. You’re surrounded by uniquely shaped Juniper Trees that are beautiful.
You’ll know you’re close to the end of the trail when you reach a fence with an opening and a sign stating there are dinosaur tracks beyond.
This is where the trail gets really challenging. It’s a steep grade to the tracks, but it’s passible if you approach cautiously.
There’s a sign part way down explaining where each track is in the rock.
What type of dinosaur tracks are on the trail?
Your reward at the end are 200-million-year-old Dilophosaurus tracks preserved in the sandstone slickrock shores of the Red Fleet Reservoir!
The slickrock is steep and a bit slippery with sand, so watch your footing.
There is a sign to help you get a sense of where to look. They are a little hard to find, but we found a couple. The tracks are 10-12″ wide and three toed. If the reservoir is high you may not see some of them that have slipped into the water.
The Dilophosaurus was one of the early dinosaurs that stood about 8 ft tall and weighed as much as a horse.
It was a fast-moving meat-eater!
At the time the tracks were made there were shallow lakes in the area. The Dilophosaurus left their footprints in the soft, moist sand where they were later buried and solidified into sandstone.
Conditions of hiking
If you’re hiking mid-day during the summer, it will be hot. Be prepared and bring plenty of water and snacks!
The trail offers a small 262 ft elevation gain. The Dinosaur Trackway trail is best used April to October.
Make sure to wear good quality hiking shoes. The different terrains and sand covered rocks offers some challenge.
You would also be well advised to wear a hat and apply ample amounts of sunscreen. Despite it being a short hike, the sun can be intense in Utah.
Is the Dinosaur Trackway hike dangerous?
We only considered the final steep grade to be dangerous. There’s loose gravel on the slope, which offers a dangerous situation. Fortunately a slide down the rock would land you in a beautiful reservoir. And it’s fine to swim in the reservoir.
As with any hiking trail, you have to constantly watch your footing. The terrain changes quickly.
If you are deconditioned or not accustomed to hiking in the desert, use serious caution. And exercise good judgement as the route back to the lot is more uphill than downhill.
Otherwise, we would not consider the dino trax trail to be too dangerous.
The end of the trail is the most dangerous as far as terrain is concerned. Perhaps, a lack of adequate hydration mid-day in the summer is more dangerous.
If you proceed down the slope with good shoes cautiously, you should be fine.
Stopping frequently to rest and drink is advised. Also, a snack for your kids (if applicable) by the fence at the end will help with the return trip.
Is the Dinosaur Trackway trail kid friendly?
Yes, it is. It may be challenging for younger kids, but we saw a lot of kids who hiked the whole trail. Our kids made it with no problems.
Again, it’s crucial you bring enough water for the kids as well as a snack. Especially if they’re younger.
What’s the best time of day to hike the Dinosaur Trackway trail?
Early morning of early evening are great times to hike in the summer. The light is best in the early morning to view the tracks, but it’s not imperative.
For the sake of safety, mid day is not the best time to hike the trail unless you are well conditioned.
Is there a fee to use the trail?
The dinosaur trackway trail is fee free. It lies within the Red Fleet State Park, but the trailhead is accessed outside the fee area.
If you finish the hike, there is a lot further up on Donkey Flat Rd with reservoir access. But it is fee based. You can also enter the park from 191 and use the beach, bathrooms and water filling stations.
The water is very refreshing after hiking.
How long does the Dinosaur Tracks Trail take?
The whole trail out and back took us about an hour and a half with two kids. We stopped frequently to admire, rest and drink. It’s a quick hike if you’re in a hurry and will offer enough of a challenge to test your endurance.
Final verdict on the Dinosaur Trackway trail
We thoroughly enjoyed hiking the trail and finding the dinosaur tracks. As mentioned previously, it’s just challenging enough to consider it a CV workout. Our kids got a real kick out of the tracks as well.
If you’re looking for a great hike near Vernal, UT, place this one near the top of your list.
Have you experienced any great hikes lately?