Jurassic National Monument - The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry

 by Peter

The visitor center at Jurassic National Monument

Tucked into the northern end of the San Rafael Swell is an offroad gem: the world's largest concentration of carnivorous dinosaur fossils, recently upgraded to National Monument status. The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, now part of the new, 850-acre Jurassic National Monument, is operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Staff are on-site during the summer (March 25th to October 31st this year), Thursday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. 

The excavation sheds behind the visitor center. The northern shed has displays of bones and tools.

The quarry has been excavated on and off for nearly a century and its bones and skeletons are displayed in museums across the globe. Test borings have indicated that substantial deposits continue back into the hills behind the current excavation sheds, but there are no active investigations underway.

Display areas inside the north quarry building.

Bones displayed more or less in situ in the north quarry building.

The quarry contains a significant paleontological mystery: around 75% of the bones that have been recovered belong to a single, predatory species: Allosaurus fragilis. Nowhere else in the world has such a concentration of predators been found. Usually, the ratio is reversed with 75% plant-eaters and only 25% meat-eaters.

Some recent research suggests that the site may have been a kind of predator trap, where predators are lured by trapped or dead prey animals and themselves succumb to whatever killed the prey. In this case, it may have been a poisoned water source.

The picnic area with a Tyrannosaurus skull and stegosaurus spine to play on.

Vault bathrooms between the picnic area and the visitor center.

Awesome boulders all through the picnic area.

The visitor center has displays discussing the animals found at the site as well as some bones for kids to touch. There are pit toilets and a picnic area with a lot of cool boulders to run around and climb on. There are also a few hiking trails in the area. The visitor center itself is historic, as it was constructed in 1968. If you're wondering about the name Cleveland-Lloyd, it's a combination of the name of the nearest town and the last name of the donor who made excavations of the site possible in the 1940s after a student from Emery County, William Lee Stokes, informed his professors at Princeton of the existence of the fossil trove.

Jurassic National Monument is located about 13 miles east of the small farming communities of Cleveland and Elmo. You reach the monument from Highway 10, which runs from Price south through Emery County. The directions to the monument are well-signed, although beware an old sign at the intersection of Main and Center in Cleveland that points you to the south. That may have been a former route to the monument, but the currently-preferred route is now east from the intersection of Main Street and 300 North in Cleveland. The route is all gravel once you leave the highway in Cleveland, but the road was well-maintained in June 2021 and we were able to travel it easily in a minivan.

Admission is $5 per adult, but the National Public Lands passes work here as they do at other national monuments and parks. Hopefully this rural gem receives enough attention and visitation with its new status that they'll eventually extend its operating hours. The San Rafael Swell in general receives less visitation than the big National Parks to the south, but has a lot of fantastic things to do itself.


Popular Posts