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Uintah County

The history of Uintah County goes back to the dinosaur age. Evidences of Dinosaurs, such as bones and fossilized footprints, have been left in the region. Much later, the Fremont Indians and, more recently, the Ute Indians have inhabited this area. Rock art can be seen on many of the canyon walls even today. In 1776 the Dominguez and Escalante expedition stopped here. The Ashley valley was named after Willaim Henry Ashley, one of the early trappers, who traveled many times through the area. In 1861 a group sent by Brigham Young to explore the area declared it a “waste and valueless.” Then in 1873 a group of people entered the Ashley valley to raise livestock an industry that has become very important to the area. Vernal, the county seat, was set up around 1880 when the residents of the area were protecting themselves from a group of hostile Indians.

Today, many visitors visit the area to see the Dinosaur National Monument, a national monument established to protect a major quarry and the surrounding area. In the city of Vernal visitors can see the remarkable Utah Field House of Natural History State Park with indoor and outdoor exhibits. Uintah County provides many scenic drives, such as the Red Cloud/Dry Fork Scenic Backway that provides beautiful vistas, early rock art, and forest views. Nearby Fantasy Canyon provides the visitor a look at rock formations that you’re sure you’ve seen before in storybooks. Two state parks in the county, Red Fleet and Steinaker State Park, help provide water and recreation throughout the year.

The largest Jurassic Period fossil bone quarry in the world is located at the Dinosaur National Monument, just twenty miles east of Vernal, Utah. At the Visitors center, you will see the fossilized remains of many different dinosaurs. There are over 2,000 bones which can be viewed on the 200-foot-long wall inside the quarry. Exhibits and displays explain how the bones were fossilized and preserved for us to view millions of years later.

Fantasy Canyon, Flying Dumbo. Fantasy Canyon is the official designation of an area composed of unique erosional features located about twenty-seven miles south of Vernal, Utah. Even though the area is somewhat small, and is not really a canyon, it contains some of the most unique geologic features in the BLM's Vernal District.

Several canals from which water is diverted for irrigation purposes are from Ashley Creek. Many of these canals were created before 1900. Many early settlers worked long hard hours to create and maintain water passages for their fields and crops. Farmers and ranchers were only given so much water a year depending on how much "water" stock they owned. This is still the case today.

More information for Uintah County can be found at the following sites: