Zeb and Soapy Love Utah’s Flaming Gorge Dam

Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck are enjoying northeast Utah.   Today mom is driving to Flaming Gorge Recreational Area.

Approaching Flaming Gorge Recreational Area. We will cross that bridge soon.

Approaching Flaming Gorge Recreational Area. We will cross that bridge soon.

Before we cross that beautiful metal bridge, we must gaze at the Green River.

Beautiful Green River

Beautiful Green River

Naturally, our first stop is the Visitor’s Center.

Visitor's Center with Frances Turbine Wheel

Visitor’s Center with Frances Turbine Wheel

What are we sitting on here?   This sign explains it very well.

We sat on this turbine. It was really used for 42 years

We sat on this turbine. It was really used for 42 years

This is exciting.   Our resting place was really used here for 42 years.   The reservoir is used for many types of recreation for humans.

Recreational area in reservoir

Recreational area in reservoir

On the right is a fishing pier.   On the left, a boat dock.   And, straight ahead is Osprey Island.   Many Osprey birds live on the island.   They build nests from sticks and the nests may be used for decades.   Each year a little is added to the nest, and many nests have a circumference exceeding 5 feet.   The Osprey is a large bird, with a wingspan often reaching six feet.   The Osprey hunts by flying over the reservoir looking for fish just below the surface.   When it spots a fish, the Osprey pulls into a brief stall, flaps its wings a few times and plummets–feet first–into the water, often disappearing below the surface.   If the dive is successful, the Osprey emerges with a wriggling trout or salmon ensnared in its long curving talons.  While boats are plentiful on the reservoir, they must be careful not to get too close to the dam.

Boaters should not get too close to dam

Boaters should not get too close to dam

This is the dam.

We can drive over the daml

We can drive over the dam

We drive over the dam and head to the river.   If you want to launch your boat in the river, you drive to the river, but must park up here.

Park up here, but launch boats down there by river

Park up here, but launch boats down there by river

The river is way down there.   If you drive to the river with your boat, after launching, you must take vehicle back up to the top for parking.

Looking up canyon wall to parking area

Looking up canyon wall to parking area

Humans usually will drive but then must use the Foot Trail between the vehicle and the river.

Foot Trail between river and parking

Foot Trail between river and parking

Down by the river, we had a great view of the dam.   The dam is 455 feet, or 140 meters above the river channel.   The cement extends below the river bottom for another 47 feet, or 14 meters, where it is anchored in bedrock.     One million cubic yards, 765,000 cubic meters, of concrete was used to build the dam and power plant.   We admired the boats on the river and watched the fisherman standing in the river.

Boats and fisherman in river

Boats and fisherman in river

This is a beautiful place and humans are having fun.   It is time for us to leave now, but one last glimpse of the Green River as we leave Utah’s Flaming Gorge Recreational Area.

Leaving Flaming Gorge Recreational Area.

Leaving Flaming Gorge Recreational Area.

This is another place we would be happy to visit again.

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Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck Discover Eastern Utah is a Geological Treasure

Eastern Utah features diverse geological and historical landscape.

Welcome to Eastern Utah

Welcome to Eastern Utah

We have to show you what we discovered driving in eastern Utah.   We thought these rock formations were pretty.

All formed by wind and water

All formed by wind and water

There are many deer here.

We love to see deer

We love to see deer

We saw several, but we loved each one.   This part of eastern Utah has a really ancient history.   150 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed.  We saw the bones from over 500 dinosaurs that died 149 million years ago.   Further signs told us more:   95 million years ago shallow seas covered Utah.   65 million years ago all dinosaurs became extinct.  45-65 million years ago the Rocky Mountains rise up.   It is those magnificent Rocky Mountains we admire every day.   Then 5 million years ago the Green and Yampa Rivers cut canyons here.   4 million years ago the earliest human ancestors are in Africa.   50,000 years ago we have the earliest evidence of Big Horn Sheep in Utah.   And they are still here.  16,000 years ago the most recent ice age was world wide.   1,000 years ago the Fremont People lived in Eastern Utah.   Remember these petroglyphs they left from previous post?

Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs

1909 dinosaur fossils were discovered in this area.   We wanted you to see all that has happened here to form this unusual landscape.  In 1776 a group of 10 explorers tried to find a land route between present day Santa Fe, New Mexico and Monterey, California.   During this expedition, these explorers passed through this land also.   Remember that this same year, 1776, our forefathers were writing the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.

Early explorers were here

Early explorers were here

This expedition was led by two priests, Father Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante.  Utah had dinosaurs, was underwater, survived the emergence of the Rocky Mountains, and even white explorers 100 years before Utah gained statehood.   That is a lot of changes for our duck minds to absorb.    Mammals and dinosaurs first appeared here, in the Chinle Formation.

Dinosaurs and mammals here

Dinosaurs and mammals here

Love this area.

So many uses and changes over the last 150 million years

So many uses and changes over the last 150 million years

In this Humbug Formation, once there was a tropical sea.

Humburg Formaton. Deposits of a Tropical Sea Really?

Humbug Formaton. Deposits of a Tropical Sea Really?

And at the Stump Formation, giant marine reptiles once swam.

Stump Formation. Where Giant Marine Reptiles Swam. Are you sure?

Stump Formation. Where Giant Marine Reptiles Swam. Are you sure?

There sure in no water here now for any swimming.   What a huge change occurred here.   Giant stegosaurus dinosaurs once wandered here.

Morrison Formation. Stegosaurus Wandered Here

Morrison Formation. Stegosaurus Wandered Here

Wait, mom!   Stegosaurus once wandered here and they had huge feet.

Stegosaurus here? Let's get out of here

Stegosaurus here? Let’s get out of here

Do you think they will come back?   We are so small they would not see us.   Are they really gone?  Really extinct?   Remember we watched the movie Jurassic Park.   We, Zeb and Soapy, hope you visit eastern Utah and see this amazing landscape and visualize all the changes that have taken place here.

Zeb and Soapy See Ancient Bones at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah

Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck saw so many bones today.   So many big bones!   We drove from Colorado to Jensen, Utah.

Jensen, Utah Welcome Center

Jensen, Utah Welcome Center

After the Visitor’s Center, armed with new maps and information, we drove to Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument.   This National Monument was established in 1915.   We will see real dinosaur bones today.

Dinosaur National Monument in Utah

Dinosaur National Monument in Utah

We met a new friend at Dinosaur National Monument Visitor’s Center.

Zeb and Soapy watched by dinosaur

Zeb and Soapy watched by dinosaur

He is looking at us in a fun way, mom.   Inside we learned that people have been living here along the Green and Yampa Rivers for over 10,000 years.   The Fremont people lived here 1,000 years ago and left petroglyphs on rocks.   Mom said we will see some before we leave Utah’s Dinosaur Monument.   First we visited the Quarry Exhibit Hall.

Quarry Exhibit Hall

Quarry Exhibit Hall

One side of this exhibit hall is an actual wall of the quarry.   We can sit on these real dinosaur bones still in the quarry wall.

Bones still in the earth

Bones still in the earth

The signs tell us that these dinosaur bones are 149 million years old.    That is really old!    We are on the case of one of the best preserved skulls ever discovered.   The large allosaurus skull, discovered here in 1924, has thin, delicate bones and amazingly is not crushed.

A real dinosaur skull. Allosaurus

A real dinosaur skull. Allosaurus

This original fossil is from the Morrison Formation of the late Jurassic Period.   The allosaurus was the dominant predator of the Jurassic Period.   This massive thigh bone is a convenient resting place for small yellow ducks.

Massive thigh bone of Camarasaurus

Massive thigh bone of Camarasaurus

This adult right thigh bone is an original Camarasaurus Femur, also from the Morrison Formation of the Jurassic Period.   The Camarasaurus was the most common dinosaur in the quarry and this femur is also 149 million years old.   This sign lists the dinosaur remains found in this quarry.

Bones of these dinosaurs are here

Bones of these dinosaurs are here

Quite a variety of dinosaurs lived and roamed here millions of years ago.   The quarry still has many bones in the dirt.

Still in the quarry wall

Still in the quarry wall

We, The Colorado Traveling Ducks, are amazed by the variety of these bones.

Bones still in quarry wall

Bones still in quarry wall

Zeb and Soapy wanted to know why so many dinosaur bones are in this area.   Information from The US National Park Service tells us this story.   “Dinosaur National Monument includes one of the Earth’s richest known dinosaur fossil beds.   These remains are from the Jurassic period 150 million years ago.   During a drought, many dinosaurs died near a river’s edge.   When rains returned, floodwaters carried the jumbled bones of over 500 dinosaurs, representing ten species, here.   Ancient river sediments, now called Morrison sandstone, entombed the dinosaur bones.   Minerals then filled the bones (though some organic material survived) and cast them in stone.   Erosion eventually exposed the fossils.   In 1909 Earl Douglass, of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum, declared this site ‘the best-looking dinosaur prospect I have ever found.'”      We drove through the national monument, stopping to see petroglyphs from the Fremont People.   Let’s go to the cave and look.

Let's go to the cave

Let’s go to the cave

This carvings in the wall are about 1,000 years old.

Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs

Aren’t they great?

1,000 years old and great condition

1,000 years old and great condition

These are not in the cave, but on a rock near the entrance.

Outside cave

Outside cave

There is so much to see and learn here and the hiking trails are great and well marked.   We hope you visit Dinosaur National Monument or any of the more than 400 parks in the US National Park System.   2016 is the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service.   We love visiting these parks and think you would also enjoy them.

Utah. We are in Utah

In the car and driving west on I-70 from Denver.   We are in Utah.

We are in Utah

We are in Utah

There is a lot of big empty space here.   You know about The Great Salt Lake and Park City, former host of Winter Olympics.   You probably also know about Salt Lake City, with Temple Square, the Mormon Tabernacle and the famous choir.    But that is not the Utah we will show you today.    Our first stop is Green River, Utah.

Green River, Utah

Green River, Utah

These sculptures explain the history of Utah.    I-70 enters Utah mid way between north and south.   On I-70 we will travel south west to I-15 and then into Arizona.   Rock formations like these dominate the landscape near Green River.

Green River landscape

Green River landscape

The highway takes us to the San Rafael Reef, a great rock wall formation.

San Rafael Reef

San Rafael Reef

We will cross the San Rafael Swell.   This is a large anticline where the earth’s crust has been heaved from below to form a great dome of rock layers.

San Rafael Swell

San Rafael Swell

Erosion has sliced and sculpted steeply tilted layers of hard sandstone.    A few miles further and another 1,000 feet in altitude, we stop to view Black Dragon Canyon.

Black Dragon Canyon

Black Dragon Canyon

Some of this sedimentary rock was deposited over 250 million years ago.   Continuing southwest on I-70, we admire the mountains, and the cows.

Contented cows

Contented cows

This photo shows several layers of what we see.

Variety of landscape and rock formations

Variety of landscape and rock formations

The grass, the trees, desert looking mountains and snow capped mountains.   There is so much beauty in the untouched landscape.   Leaving Green River, we saw a couple signs advising us that there were no services for 103 miles.   We have a full gas tank and many bottles of water.   This rugged land of canyons and badlands allowed outlaws such as Butch Cassidy, Elza Lay, Flat Nose George, Kid Curry, Joe Walker and others to elude the lawman.

Perfect for outlaws

Perfect for outlaws

We are fascinated by the changing rocks and colors.

Love the red

Love the red

Red here.   Almost looks like they were carved.   Now white rocks.

Love the white

Love the white

The minerals in the rock determine the color of the rocks and mountains.   These mountains with red and white made us smile.

Various colors on same mountain. Minerals give color to rocks

Various colors on same mountain. Minerals give color to rocks

Utah also has 5 national parks, so plan to stay here awhile to enjoy many wonders.   We will be back to Utah again.   It seems that mom is trying to get somewhere else on this trip, too.