Colorado’s Scenic and Historic Byways: Dinosaur Diamond

Our series travelling Colorado’s Scenic and Historic Byways continues around the Dinosaur Diamond! The Dinosaur Diamond National Scenic Byway spans western Colorado and eastern Utah, featuring desert landscapes, dinosaur fossils, and ancient rock art.

A two-lane paved highway curves twice through a desert landscape.
Photo from the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The complete Dinosaur Diamond Byway traverses 512 miles, with 134 miles of the byway located in Colorado. A 2002 guide to Dinosaur Diamond describes the route as, “like a charm bracelet connecting numerous world-class dinosaur sites and archeological sites.” Colorado’s stretch of the byway includes many of these charms, starting with the paleontological attractions located near the eastern entrance of the Byway in Grand Junction. Visitors in this section of the Dinosaur Diamond have their pick of how to view dinosaur fossils, from the interactive Dinosaur Journey Museum to watching fossil hunters in active quarries. To learn more about dinosaurs (or maybe find your own fossils), History Colorado published a list of locations where the public can view dinosaur remains in Colorado, including many locations that can be accessed from the Dinosaur Diamond.

The Byway’s attractions are not only related to dinosaurs. The Department of Transportation’s Framework for Wayshowing report for the Dinosaur Diamond highlights the cultural sites along the Byway, like the history museums in Rangely and Grand Junction that provide information about the thousands of years of human history that took place in the Dinosaur Diamond area. Evidence of early human activity can also be found outside museum walls at archaeological sites like the Canyon Pintado National Historic District, where visitors can find pictographs that were painted on sandstone canyon walls by the Fremont and Ute cultures.

The Dinosaur Diamond Byway exits northwestern Colorado in Dinosaur National Monument. As its name suggests, Dinosaur National Monument showcases incredible dinosaur fossils and is home to one of the most productive dinosaur fossil quarries in the world. However, Dinosaur National Monument also contains several archaeological dig sites. The results of one excavation are explained in a 1970 report published by the University of Colorado Boulder. During this dig, archaeologists uncovered a plethora of artifacts, like stone tools and ceramics, across 20 sites that included Fremont dwellings, campsites, and rock shelters.

The Dinosaur Diamond Scenic and Historic Byway is more than a road trip – it’s a journey through time. Whether you’re interested in paleontology or human history, Colorado’s portion of the Dinosaur Diamond Byway promises a captivating and educational experience.