Wall of Bones reopens after five-year closure


The historic “Wall of Bones,” which contains more than 1,500 dinosaur and animal bones, at the Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal reopened Tuesday after being closed for more than five years.

The “Wall of Bones” was originally opened  in 1915 and attracted visitors from around the country. The wall is a product from a paleontology dig in 1909 by Earl Douglas.

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The historic wall of bones has more than 1,500 dinosaur fossils.

Douglas thought it would be great to keep the wall as intact as possible, said Dan Johnson, chief of  interpretation and visitor services at the monument.

“When you remove fossils, you lose a lot of information about the positioning of layers,” Johnson said.

The 200 foot wall and houses around 1,500 exposed bones  from at least 10 different species identified within the wall, Johnson said.

The “Wall of Bones” is part of the Quarry Exhibit Hall which opened in 1956. However, even at the time of its opening, there were concerns about the structure of the building, Johnson said.

“Over the years, more issues became apparent,” Johnson said. “In 2006, we requested an architectural survey that revealed serious health, life and safety issues. It was then closed soon after.”

Now, five years later, the Quarry Exhibit Hall and a brand new visitors center are open to the public. The quarry is still in the same location but the visitors center has been moved down the hill to a more structurally sound area, Johnson said.

In addition to the wall, new exhibits have been added, including a mural that depicts the Morrison Rock formation from about 148 million years ago, Johnson said.The National Park Service’s website said there will also be a life-size allosaurus exhibit and fossilized bones of a stegosaurus,.

According to a news release from the National Park Service, the grand reopening of the visitors center occurred on Sept. 28. However, the celebration for both the opening of the Quarry Exhibit Hall and the visitor center occurred Tuesday, Johnson said. Johnson indicated that several speakers would be in the program, including the daughters of Earl Douglas.

The Oct. 4 reopening is a special date as it is almost exactly the same date the Dinosaur National Monument opened 96 years go,  said Mary Risser, Dinosaur National Monument superintendent, in a news release.

“This will be the first time that the public will be able to see the dinosaur fossils in more than five years,” Risser said. “What an exciting way to mark Dinosaur’s Founders Day.”

For the next month, admission is waived.

The monument spans more than 210,000 acres between Colorado and Utah, and the new Quarry Exhibit Hall is located just off Highway 149, about 20 miles from Vernal. More information can be obtained by calling 435-789-2115.

For more photos of the Dinosaur National Monument, check out the park’s slideshow.


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