Ask Smithsonian Geico Smithsonian Discount

The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2015

From sea to shining sea, our top picks for the most amazing American small towns to see this year

(Image © David C. Phillips/Garden Photo World/Corbis; graphic by Shaylyn Esposito)
smithsonian.com

20. Vernal, Utah

None
(Vernal welcome sign, courtesy of Flickr user arbyreed)

Dinosaurs are a big deal in Vernal, where a 40-foot-tall pink fiberglass one named Dinah welcomes you to town, and in 2015 the nearby Dinosaur National Monument celebrates its 100th anniversary. But there’s more to see than just dinosaurs—alongside the 1,500 dinosaur bones embedded in the Carnegie Quarry, the monument is home to 1,000-year-old petroglyphs, historic homesteading structures and some of the darkest skies in the nation (perfect for catching those constellations hidden by the big city lights). Dinosaur National Monument also holds a special place in the history of American conservation—historians say the movement was emboldened after activists defeated a 1950s dam project that would have flooded a section in the heart of the monument known as Echo Park.

Alongside plenty of other opportunities for dinosaur-oriented learning, Vernal is within driving distance of three state parks, the watersports of the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, the 50-million-year old geological formations of Fantasy Canyon, historic Old West ranches and the only building ever built by the mail—the Bank of Vernal, constructed with bricks from Salt Lake City shipped through the Parcel Post system by an ingenious businessman in 1916-17, before frantic postmasters convinced legislators to introduce weight limits.

Tags

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus