Tour the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway: Fossils and Scenery


Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway is a 486-mile scenic byway that traverses through western Colorado and eastern Utah, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore the region’s rich paleontological history and stunning natural landscapes. This National Scenic Byway, designated in 2002, takes travelers on a journey through time, showcasing some of the world’s most significant dinosaur fossil quarries, ancient rock formations, and prehistoric Native American art.


  • Discover the world's most significant dinosaur fossil quarries and museums along the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway.
  • Explore breathtaking natural wonders on this scenic drive, including red rock canyons, forested sky islands, and winding riverways.
  • Immerse yourself in the region's rich cultural heritage by visiting ancient petroglyph sites and historic districts.

Destination Overview

The Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway is a true gem for adventure seekers and history enthusiasts. Spanning across the rugged landscapes of Colorado and Utah, this byway offers a unique blend of paleontological discoveries, outdoor adventures, and cultural experiences.

Sometimes referred to as Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway, destinations along this historic byway include two national parks, two Colorado national monuments, and spots for stopping to enjoy two great rivers of this region-the Colorado River and Green River. Near Grand Junction, you’ll find Colorado National Monument, one of nine national monuments in Colorado.

The other national monument on this journey is Dinosaur National Monument, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the border between Colorado and Utah. If dinosaurs are your thing, this is a natural history mecca you need to experience in person. Visitors can marvel at the Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall, where a remarkable wall of protruding dinosaur bones, including skulls, femurs, and vertebrae, is displayed. These fossils contribute to our understanding of these prehistoric giants.

There’s plenty of outdoor activity you can partake in inside the park. You can hike through rocky mountain terrain or go on rafting trips on the Yampa River or the Green River.

While it’s not officially a national park, the National Parks Service operates Dinosaur National Monument.

Paleontological Discoveries

The Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway is a true mecca for paleontology enthusiasts. In addition to Dinosaur National Monument, the region boasts several world-class museums dedicated to preserving and showcasing these ancient treasures.

The Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado, offers a captivating glimpse into the Jurassic era, with exhibits featuring complete dinosaur skeletons and interactive displays. Visitors can even participate in guided fossil digs, allowing them to experience firsthand the thrill of unearthing these prehistoric wonders.

Outdoor Adventures

Beyond its paleontological significance, the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway offers a wealth of outdoor adventures amidst breathtaking natural landscapes. Hikers can embark on the Riggs Hill Trail, which winds through the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, offering panoramic views of the Colorado Plateau and the winding Colorado River.

For those seeking a more adrenaline-fueled experience, the region’s riverways provide ample whitewater rafting and kayaking opportunities. The Uinta Mountains, a towering range that forms part of the byway’s backdrop, beckons backpackers and campers with its forested sky islands and pristine wilderness. As you travel from Fruita to Dinosaur or in the other direction, Douglas Pass offers some of the best views in western Colorado.

For more information, visit the Colorado Welcome Center in Fruita, at the southern end of the highway, or Dinosaur, at the northern end.

Conservation and Preservation

The Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway is a testament to the region’s rich history and a showcase of ongoing conservation efforts. The McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area and the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area play crucial roles in preserving the area’s natural and cultural heritage.

Visitors can explore ancient petroglyph sites, such as those found in the Canyon Pintado Historic District, offering a glimpse into the lives of the region’s earliest inhabitants. These efforts ensure that future generations can continue appreciating and learning from the area’s unique legacy.


What is the best time to visit the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway?

Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway is accessible year-round, but the peak season for outdoor activities is typically from late spring to early fall when temperatures are mild, and the weather is favorable for hiking, rafting, and camping.

Are there any guided tours available along the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway?

Several tour operators offer guided tours, including fossil digs, hiking excursions, and cultural heritage tours. These guided experiences can provide valuable insights and enhance your understanding of the region and the fossils found here.

What are the must-see attractions along the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway?

Some of the top attractions include Dinosaur National Monument, the Dinosaur Journey Museum, the Riggs Hill Trail, the Canyon Pintado Historic District, and the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park.

Are there any accommodations available along the byway?

While the byway does not have many lodging options, nearby Colorado towns like Fruita, Grand Junction, and Dinosaur, as well as Utah towns like Vernal, offer a range of accommodations, including hotels, motels, and campgrounds.

Can I get to other Colorado byways from the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway?

Yes, near Grand Junction, you can easily access the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway and the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway, or you can head an hour east to Hotchkiss to pick up the West Elk Loop. Driving an hour east at Rangely, at the northern end of Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway will take you to the Flat Tops Trail.


About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.