River Trail

Round Trip Distance: 3.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 4763 - 4926 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Green River Campground
Fee: $20/vehicle
Attractions: Geology, beavers, deer

The River Trail is located in the Utah Section of the Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah. The trail travels along the west bank of the Green River between the Green River and Split Mountain campgrounds. The riparian environment is home to many species of wildlife that seek the main source of water in this desert environment.

The River Trail has a trailhead at the campground at each end of the trail. A large portion of the Split Mountain campground has been closed which causes hikers to park further away from the trailhead. The distance between the 2 trailheads measures 1.3 miles using a GPS. That coupled with the extra distance through the Split Mountain campground area makes the hike over a mile further, round trip, than the trailhead kiosk indicates.

The trail is far enough away from the river that unless the water is at flood stage it will remain high and dry. It isn't uncommon for portions of both campgrounds to be closed when the water is high so that could keep you from getting to the trailhead. People usually don't come to the monument to hike the River trail. It is most often hiked by people that are staying at one of the campgrounds when they have nothing better to do.

First thing in the morning the trail can have so many animal tracks, like these from a skunk, that any people tracks from the day before are completely obliterated. Other tracks that could be seen were bobcat, deer, mountain lion and rabbits.

The trail has over 150 feet of elevation gain at its high point where the trail passes behind a high bluff. The climb is gradual enough in either direction that it only adds a moderate amount of stress to the hike.

A deer can be seen crossing over to an island area where it can hide out for the day.

There are beaver near the Green River campground and near the island area. The trail is far enough from the water near the high point of the trail that you can watch the beavers for long periods without ever disturbing them.

Perhaps at sometime they will repair and reopen the closed section of the campground at Split Mountain and visitors will once again be able to park nearer to the trailhead. If you turn around at this point the round trip distance will be 2.6 miles.

There are several panels of petroglyphs in the closed section of the Split Mountain campground. Many of them have been heavily vandalized and some appear to be more recent creations. The rock art in this picture was in good shape except for the '1972' that someone overlaid it with. The sun with the smiley face is probably of a similar date.

The Split Mountain end of the trail has a few nice trail improvements to smooth over some otherwise more difficult sections of trail.

The Green River campground is a pretty good place to stay while visiting Dinosaur National Monument. It has tables, fire pits and restrooms with running water. There is also fresh water available from spigots near the restrooms. There is firewood available for purchase and they ask you not to bring your own. They don't want any new species of bugs apparently. The campground is said to rarely fill to capacity. The campground at Split Mountain is reserved for group camping during the summer months. More information is available and reservations can be made on their website.  If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.