There’s more to discover at this Utah-Colorado park than dino bones—like geologic marvels, narrow canyons, and arid desert landscapes. Try this easy 4.5-mile lollipop loop on the Sound of Silence Trail for a sampler. The trail begins in a wash bed surrounded by cottonwoods, sage, and rabbitbrush, but the foliage abruptly fades as the path turns into a labyrinth of small canyons. Claustrophobes, beware—foot space is barely one boot wide here. Traverse the small inclines and declines for views of geologic features like The Racetrack, where tilted and dipping sedimentary rock layers resemble one end of an oval racetrack, and Split Mountain, where the Green River cut right through the multi-layered peak. The hike also passes several slanted strata of red, yellow, and gray sandstones and shales of various thicknesses. At 2 miles in, take the spur to the Desert Voices Trail for an extra 1.5-mile out-and-back. Rejoin the Sound of Silence Trail; after a moderate scramble down slickrock, the trail drops into a small valley that returns to the trailhead.
Note: The narrow canyons can amplify heat during the summer. Bring plenty of water and start early in the day.
Info: Trail Guide available at visitor center. (435) 781-7700; nps.gov/dino
Hike provided by Matthew Greuel, park guide, Dinosaur National Monument