Worth a Visit: Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum

A full-size dinosaur replica welcomes visitors at the Utah Field House of History State Park Museum.
A full-size dinosaur replica welcomes visitors at the Utah Field House of History State Park Museum. Louis Arevalo
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The Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum gives visitors a virtual tour of our planet’s ancient history. This 22,000-square-foot facility located in the heart of Vernal, Utah is loaded with an extensive collection of dinosaur bones, full-size dinosaur replicas, and interactive exhibits that allow you to wander back in time.

For decades, scientists from around the world have come to the numerous dinosaur dig sites surrounding Vernal to study and collect findings from past eras. The Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum was opened in 1948 to showcase a selection of these local findings and share the knowledge gained here with the public.

What Makes It Great

Begin your visit in the museum’s rotunda, where the skeleton of a 90-foot-long diplodocus greets visitors. Make your way around this awesome figure and check out the adjoining Fossil Lab, where you can witness the uncovering, casting, and preserving of incredible fossils. Afterward, step quietly beneath the diplodocus and enter the theater for a short film presentation that give's an insider's look into a dig.

Following the film, make your way to the Morrison Dig, a section of the museum set up to replicate the sights and sounds of a modern-day dig site. You are invited to take part in the excavation and uncover fossils by brushing away debris from the bones.

The Field House is appealing to dinosaur lovers and history buffs.
The Field House is appealing to dinosaur lovers and history buffs. Louis Arevalo

Check out more bones in Jurassic Hall, which date back some 150 million years to the Morrison Formation. Here you will see the almost complete skeleton of a haplocanthosaurus lying beneath an allosaurus.

Moving to the Eocene Gallery, you are brought 100 million years ahead of the time witnessed in Jurassic Hall to an era when lakes covered much of the region. In this exhibit, there is one wall completely covered by 288 rock panels containing preserved fossilized plants.

Next on the journey is the Fluorescent Minerals room, which boasts a collection of rather ordinary-looking rocks on display. However, flip a switch that exposes them to ultraviolet light and watch as their minerals radiate glowing colors.

Outside, the Dinosaur Garden contains 14 life-size models set within a mature garden of local desert plants. These prehistoric animals are positioned in animated states, giving a up-close experience of what it may have felt like to stand side-by-side with them (or, rather, prepare to run from them).

Back inside, be sure to checkout the Anthropology Hall located on the upper level of the rotunda, where human history of the area is featured. This area shows artifacts from the Fremont Cultures as well as handcrafts from the local Ute culture.

Once you wrap up your visit to the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum, it is prime time to head outside and experience dinosaur bones where they were originally discovered by making your way to Dinosaur National Monument.

Hands-on exhibits allow visitors to get a real feel for history.
Hands-on exhibits allow visitors to get a real feel for history. Louis Arevalo

What You’ll Remember

Craning your head back to take in the immense size of a woolly mammoth, feeling tiny beneath a tyrannosaurus rex, and feeling a chill run down your spine as you discover you are being stalked by a fast and nimble coelophysis. Other than that, bones, bones, and more bones. This place is full of fossils dating back millions of years. How cool is that?

Who’s Going to Love It?

Anyone who thinks dinosaurs are cool. Anyone with an interest in history or geology. But to be honest, this place is so fascinating, you would be hard pressed to not find something of interest during your visit.

Directions, Regulations, and Permits

The Field House is open from 9 am-5 pm daily April through September and is closed on Sundays from October to March. It’s $7 for a day pass, $3.50 for children ages 6-12 and seniors, and children under five are free. There is free parking on site.

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