9 Easy Vernal Hikes You Shouldn’t Miss

Not many people know about the beauty of Eastern Utah, which is why it’s one of the best spots to take a hiking trip. You get fantastic desert landscapes, great mountains, and virtually no crowds. Vernal Utah, sits in one of the prime spots for outdoor recreation and is home to dozens of easy hikes that almost any hiker can easily do.

It’s worth mentioning, especially to your kids, how many dinosaur remnants there are in the area. A lot of these hikes will take you around spots that dinosaurs once walked in. On top of that, you can explore easy Vernal hikes that take you past petroglyphs as well as dinosaur tracks. These are some of the most enjoyable, scenic and EASY Vernal hikes that you can find in the area that are perfect for the whole family.

Best Hikes near Vernal Utah

Within an hour-long drive from Vernal Utah, you can find a large variety of hikes that will take you through the desert, mountains, or alongside a raging river. It’s extraordinary the variety that Vernal hiking trails provide!

Moonshine Arch

Wide angle lens picture of the Moonshine Arch at sunset, Vernal, Utah, USA.

Distance: 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Type of Trail: Out and back

Great slickrock and a massive arch await you at the end of the Moonshine arch trail. You only need to travel about 7 miles out of Vernal Utah to find this fantastic hike. It starts down a small dirt road about a mile past the entrance to Steinaker State Park, but it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere.

The parking lot is located at some green gates with a cattle guard. The trail begins on a dirt road/ATV trail, but it’s not driveable. Take the trail down and head left when the trail forks. After that, you’ll take two rights, and this will take you straight to Moonshine Arch.

This trail is great because most of it is sandy and flat with only a few steeper sections. That makes it perfect for smaller kids.

Just be aware of the heat on this trail. There’s not much shade to be found on this hike, so head out early in the morning, in the evening, or on a cloudy day.

Fantasy Canyon

View of Fantasy Canyon

Distance: 0.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Type of Trail: Loop

Fantasy Canyon feels like you been lifted from Vernal Utah and taken to a completely different world. . It is a conglomeration of odd rock formations that have been naturally smashed together to make what seems to be a massive playground. It’s not much of a hike, but it’s a great spot to check out and see some really interesting geology of the region.

Dry Fork Flume Trail

Distance: 2 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Trail: Out and back

The Dry Fork Flume Interpretive trail feels a bit strange when surrounded by all of these desert hikes. This trail feels much more like you’re hiking in the alpine, not the desert. Most of the hike has good shade and follows the Dry Fork Creek, so it’s much cooler than all around.

This trail is a bit further out past McConkie Ranch and the directions can be a little bit more complicated. Even once you get to the parking lot, there’s another one up higher that you can hike two miles to and do a shuttle, or make it a four mile round trip hike.

The trail is rated moderate just because of a few sections that have steep areas with loose dirt. Otherwise, the trail is mostly level and is an easy hike.

Read Next:

Dry Fork Flume Site Trail

Distance: 2.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Type of Trail: Out and back

Dry Fork Canyon has so much to offer and this hike gives you a great idea of how beautiful the area is. There was a settlement here (hence Dry Fork Settlement Road) in the 1800’s of people trying to figure out the water situation. For 9 months of the year, the creek bed was dry. In the spring, there was plenty of water.

Eventually it was discovered that there are several underground sinks that collect water, but in the 1800’s, no one could figure this out. They constructed a flume in the late 1800’s to bring water down to the farms and the settlement before it disappeared into the sinks. There are still towers from the flume even though it was leaking and eventually was dismantled.

The trail starts about a half mile from Massey Meadow. You cross the bridge and head west. It’s about 1.2 miles to get to the flume, and if you have the time, you can continue on to the creek.

Best Hikes in Dinosaur National Monument

Vernal, Utah - September 24, 2020: Sign for Vernal Utah, with its famous pink dinosaur statue, taken at dusk

If you’re headed out to Vernal Utah, going on some Dinosaur National Monument hikes is an absolute must. This place is full of dinosaur tracks and other evidence that dinosaurs used to walk the exact same trail that you would be walking on! The Visitor Center is incredible. You could almost spend an entire day in the Visitor Center, but be sure to get out and find some hikes!

Jones Hole Trail

Distance: 8 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Type of Trail: Out and Back

The Jones Hole Trail is unique because a lot of people access the trail via rafting the Green River. It takes about three days to raft there, but for those of us without that kind of time, you can drive out to the Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery and start there. Be sure to take the time to visit the hatchery! There’s a lot to learn about the fish there from the rangers.

The first half mile of the trail is usually pretty muddy and filled with mosquitoes along Jones Hole Creek, so plan accordingly. Afterwards, you’ll hike for 1.5 miles in the bottom of a massive canyon with red rock walls towering around you. Two miles in, you’ll cross a bridge and can stop to take a swim in the river. There’s also a small side trail here that will take you to some pictographs on a wall, which are fascinating to see!

There’s another side trail near here that takes you to Ely falls. This is a great place to go cool off without having to hike much further. It’s only .3 miles off the main trail, which is very worth it. You can sit on top of the falls and block the water to then release a massive flow onto whoever is underneath!

From here, you can keep hiking down to the Green River, but you can also turn around and make the hike a little shorter.

Hog Canyon and Box Canyon Trails

Distance: 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Type of Trail: Out and back

Inside of Dinosaur National Monument is a little home called Josie’s Cabin. This cabin is situated in a large tree grove with picnic tables provided for a great spot to stop and have lunch. The cabin was home to Josie Morris who spent her life living in the wild west and running wild through nature.

From the cabin, you can do both the Box Canyon hike and the Hog Canyon hike. The two canyons were used as natural corrals for Josie’s animals as they were blocked in by three sides of canyon walls.

Box Canyon is a short and flat half-mile hike, but you get back into a gorgeous box canyon. Hog Canyon is a mile and a half, but is still flat and well-maintained.

Sound of Silence Trail

Distance: 3.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Type of Trail: Loop

Just two miles east of the Quarry Visitor Center is the Sound of Silence Trail. This trail gives a fantastic introduction into the diverse geology and desert landscapes that Dinosaur National Monument has to offer.

On the trail, you’ll meander through a wash, steep slickrock, and around corners to sweeping views of Split Mountain. Some of this trail can be more difficult to follow, so be sure to grab a pamphlet for the trail before heading out.

Also be aware that there is very little shade on this hike. Bring a ton of water with you!

Best Hikes at Red Fleet State Park

a Man hiking

Dinosaur Trackway Trail

Distance: 1.7 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Trail: Out and back

The Dinosaur Trackway Trail is a short hike, but a wonderful exploration into the history of Vernal Utah. There are so many dinosaur tracks to be found around here that your kids will be bouncing from one to the other in a constant search for more.

If you want to take a trail and turn it into an adventure, this is the best one to do so on. Just be sure to hike in the morning, evening, or on a cooler day as the desert heat will get to you on this one.

There’s a great reservoir at the very end of the trail where you can swim to cool off, adding to the fun and excitement of this trail!

3 thoughts on “9 Easy Vernal Hikes You Shouldn’t Miss”

Leave a Comment