Utahraptor State Park in Eastern Utah looks like a gem

MONTICELLO, UTAH - JANUARY 13: Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument, one of the largest known collections of Petroglyphs on January 13, 2021 in Monticello, Utah. (Photo by Josh Brasted/Getty Images)
MONTICELLO, UTAH - JANUARY 13: Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument, one of the largest known collections of Petroglyphs on January 13, 2021 in Monticello, Utah. (Photo by Josh Brasted/Getty Images) /

The creation of a new park is a cause for celebration. It represents another piece of valuable nature preserved for future generations. And in Utah, the brand new Utahraptor State Park seems like it will be one for the ages.

Keeping in mind that this park has yet to officially open given that it’s located near Arches National Park one can imagine what visitors are in for. Plus, the region is absolutely loaded with fossils, meaning that there is a whole other level of pre-history to explore.

Establishing Utahraptor

Located near the town of Moab, Utahraptor State Park covers 6500 acres of prime Utah desert. Within its boundaries is a valuable paleontological spot called Dalton Wells Quarry. It has yielded an amazing bounty of dinosaur fossils, particularly the ones that gave the park its name.

ZION NATIONAL PARK, UT – JULY 15: Visitors explore The Narrows along the Virgin River on July 15, 2014 in Zion National Park, Utah. Zion National Park is among the state’s biggest tourist destinations. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) /

The specific dinosaur species that was discovered in the park was named Utahraptor. Being that the purpose of the park was to protect the region where it was found, it only made sense to name it after that dinosaur.

And it’s a pretty damn impressive dinosaur, at that. It was basically a double-sized velociraptor covered in fur with massive talons. That would have changed the game in Jurassic Park when the kids were running away from those raptors.

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Over a period of several decades, various excavations yielded a seemingly endless treasure trove of fossils, including the Utahraptor. This led to the park being established in March 2021 by Utah state legislators with a target opening date in 2022.

What to expect

The big draw to Utahraptor is obviously the paleontological bounty. But there’s going to be a lot more to it than that. This is a State Park in Utah being established amongst some of the biggest and best National Parks in the country after all.

Major activities here will include extensive trails for hiking and mountain biking as well as ATV trails. Combined, there will be more than 150 miles of trails for people to take advantage of, regardless of which activity they choose.

That being said, there’s a long way to go before there are full facilities at the park. It will take years of development to get it to a place where it’s fully functioning. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not somewhere to spend time.

There are other parks, resources, and more in the region that you can stay at, then explore Utahraptor from. Plus, it’s on the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway which actually connects a series of comparable sites together.

Why you should plan to go

There is a lot of history to take in at Utahraptor State Park. Beyond paleontological history, this region was home to Moab Isolation Center. This was an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. It’s not good history but it needs to be remembered.

OLJATO-MONUMENT VALLEY, UT – JUNE 12:This is a picture of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park taken from Goosenecks State Park in Utah on June 12, 2019 outside Oljato-Monument Valley, Utah. Monument Valley has recently been rated one of the best road trips in the United States. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images) /

Part of the reason Utahraptor was established in the first place was to protect the region. There were some limited facilities in the area already but they were constantly being abused and misused over the years. Preserving it was an absolute necessity.

As odd as this sounds, part of preserving this valuable resource and a key piece of history requires the involvement of people. Regular visitors and proper, respectful usage will help spur on further responsible development in the park.

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This is going to be an interesting addition to the already impressive roster of State and National Parks in Utah. It has the potential to be one of the best in the state and another amazing part of the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway.