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Dinosaur National Monument named one of the quietest places in the country

The National Park Service has named Dinosaur National Monument as one of the quietest places in the country.
The National Park Service has named Dinosaur National Monument as one of the quietest places in the country.
Mike DeBernardo, Deseret News

VERNAL — In today's often fast and noisy world, you don't have to travel far to enjoy the sound of silence.

Scientists with the National Park Service and other agencies recently created a map and a list of the quietest places in the lower 48 states. Dinosaur National Monument is one of them.

"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.

“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 every year. But 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,” he said.

There are places to hike, places to raft and places that make a person feel alive. However, when they get away from the visitors center, it’s the silence that strikes many people.

“They love this place because they have discovered that,” Johnson said.

More noise in a traditionally quiet area can have an effect on the animals there, he said.

“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,” Johnson said. “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 allows us to refocus on things.”

The map was recently shared during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Other “quietest places” on the list include the remote areas of Yellowstone National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.