In Dinosaur National Monument, one of the most spectacular viewpoints is from the top of Split Mountain. No roads lead there, but it's an easy horseback ride, only 12 miles round trip. The photo above, taken from a distance, shows our trailhead on the right. We ride up the ramp-like slope on the west side of the mountain.Here is a panorama from the summit:
Near the top, a Ponderosa forest looks like a park. Fires removed the underbrush, leaving most of the thick-barked, mature trees intact:
We saw this marker near the 7600 ft summit. It's apparently a secondary USGS marker, with the arrow pointing to the primary one, which we did not see.
We looked down on the plains surrounding the Green River below. The Dinosaur quarry is in the valley near a big curve of the river seen just behind Steve's hat.
The 1869 Wesley Powell expedition noted that the Green River cuts a deep gorge through the mountain, which he named Split Mountain Canyon. Today, float trips through this canyon are popular with summer rafters.To show how the plant communities change at different altitudes, I took these photos as we descended. We rode through Ponderosa pines:
through a pinion-juniper zone:(Instead of using reins, Steve is pointing a turn for Boss, who responds surprisingly well to hand signals.)We continued down through flat meadows rich with native bunchgrass:
We were parked near the rocky crags knows as The Reef, where we've often seen raptors perched on the rocks, keen eyes sweeping the landscape as they wait for an unlucky bunny to appear: