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VERNAL — Even in Vernal, Utah, life can be fast — and noisy.
Eighteen-wheelers, oil trucks and extended-cab, jacked-up, long-bed pickups all rumble past the big dinosaurs on Main Street every single day.
However, there is a place nearby where life slows down, and the noise fades away.
"It gets you back to more of that natural landscape,” said Dan Johnson. “You can hear the wind and the river. You don’t hear traffic, the honking of horns, or our cellphones and Facebook alerts going off all the time.”
Johnson is the chief of interpretation and visitor services at Dinosaur National Monument in Eastern Utah.
This week, scientists with the National Park Service and other agencies made a map and a list of the quietest places in the lower 48 states.
Dinosaur is one of them.
“Yesterday, it was interesting. The staff, we were watching a coyote run around, and Dinosaur is so quiet you can hear a coyote sneeze,” said Johnson with a laugh.
Dinosaur National Monument, which is in Utah and Colorado, is best known for its dinosaur bone quarry, which Johnson said is one of the best in the world.
It’s a big reason why roughly 300,000 people visit here every year.
However, Johnson said the bone quarry is a small part of the overall monument.
“It is a place that, based on its first name, may not reveal what is all there, but once you kind of dive into it and start exploring it, you learn what this place is really like,” said Johnson.
I personally think these places are very important because we as human beings all need places to be able to escape the daily grinds of society. To be able to let it all go for a while, you know, a lot of times allow us to refocus on things.
–Dan Johnson, Dinosaur National Monument
There are places to hike, places to raft and places that make a person feel alive.
However, when they get away from the visitor's center, it’s the silence that strikes many people: “They love this place because they have discovered that,” said Johnson.
Johnson also said more noise in a traditionally quiet area can have an effect on the animals there.
“There are owls that require hearing to hunt their prey, and a lot of owls can’t hunt in a rainstorm because just the sound of the raindrops will disrupt them from being able to hear small mammals and things,” said Johnson. “There are some bird species that they found out are adjusting their pitches to try to counteract that.”
Standing in the middle of a field, or even on a trail, it’s amazing how loud complete silence is.
It’s something Johnson hopes is never lost.
“I personally think these places are very important because we as human beings all need places to be able to escape the daily grinds of society,” said Johnson. “To be able to let it all go for a while, you know, a lot of times allow us to refocus on things.”
Other “quietest places” on the list include the remote areas of Yellowstone National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.
Contributing: Mike DeBernardo