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This section of Utah is large, but since traffic is not a problem and the towns are few and far between, it's easy to move about quickly. The main highways are U.S. 191 and U.S. 40, which run north-south here. The biggest towns are Vernal and Price, both of which make comfortable bases for excursions into the backcountry. Having a car is essential.
East-Central Utah (Castle Country). Nicknamed for the impressive castlelike rock formations that grace many parts of the landscape, Castle Country is one of those secret spots that many vacationers miss. Most of the attractions are near the town of Price, such as the huge crop of petrogyphs at Nine Mile Canyon, and the quaint town of Helper. The San Rafael Swell, one of the largest natural wonders you may never have heard about, lies 25 mi south of Price.
The Uinta Basin (Dinosaurland). Dubbing the Uinta Basin "Dinosaurland" is no overstatement. Named in honor of the large quantity of dinosaur fossils in the area (and especially the 1909 discovery of a huge cache of dino fossils in what is now Dinosaur National Monument), this slice of Utah boasts about its paleontological history whenever possible. Here you can see the ancient bones at the monument and get a crash course in dinosaur history at Vernal's Northeastern Utah Field House of Natural History State Park. If dinosaurs don't hold your interest (blasphemy around here), you can still have a grand time taking river trips, hiking, and mountain biking. The breathtaking National Gorge Recreation Area is a place to fish, boat, swim, and generally take it easy.
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- Small budget: Book Econo Lodge Downtown 3 Nts in May Fr $101+/Nt Expedia
- Book in Vernal Fr $199+/Nt Hotels.com
- Vernal Savings! Book at SpringHill Suites Vernal Fr $134+/Nt — $134 Expedia
- $181 & Up: Cheap Vernal Stay — $181 Hotels.com
- May deal: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Vernal Fr $143+/Nt — $143 Expedia