The Matador Network has listed Vernal as one of “The 25 coolest towns in America to visit in 2021.”
No surprise to the people who live here, Vernal made the list because of the theme of dinosaurs, closeness to outdoor adventures, and being a welcoming place.
The article suggests visitors stop at the Dinosaur Gardens and the Utah State Field House Museum before heading to the Dinosaur National Monument Quarry.
“As Butch Cassidy discovered in the 1860s, Vernal is the easiest town in America from which to escape civilization,” the article states.
The connection to the outdoors is one of the main reasons people come to Vernal including Dinosaur National Monument, Flaming Gorge, and the Western Battleship Formation.
The article suggests heading to Vernal Brewing Company, Dinosaur Brew House, Don Pedro’s, La Cabana, or Mi Casa for a complete day.
Marilyn Wallis, Vernal Area Chamber of Commerce office manager, wasn’t surprised when the town made the list, although she would have added a few more reasons.
“I was born and raised here, my dad was a cattle rancher, so I grew up with all that and my family was some of the first settlers in Jensen,” Wallis said.
One thing that is very important to many of the people of the Basin is the western way of life.
“I like the history, I like the west, the part we played in settling the west,” Wallis said. “Part of that is where the people come from. A long time ago, people helped everybody.”
She shared a memory of her mother making a pot of soup for families that needed it and her brother delivering the food.
“It’s just a way of life, helping other people,” Wallis said. “It’s continued even into the day when people can get all kinds of help. People still care enough to help and do things.”
She said that this area is special because of the people and how they are extremely generous and support what’s going on, like the Block Party in downtown Vernal over the Fourth of July weekend.
“People support and care, and I think that’s one of the biggest things I love about Vernal,” Wallis said. “I love the outdoors and the scenery, and I love the history. My great-uncle was with Earl Douglas when he discovered the dinosaur bones. Earl Douglas stayed with my great-great-grandparent’s place. So, you’ve always been involved and felt a part of that. That it was important.”
“Since I’ve moved back, the thing I’ve observed is the people,” Wallis said. “They’re so generous with their time, talent and money.”
Lori Gillman, with the Uintah Basin Visual Arts, agrees.
“I think one of the coolest things about Vernal is the great support of the community to the schools, events, sports, arts and so much more,” Gillman said in an email. “The people in Vernal are the coolest!”
Vernal is listed as number 15 on the list. Other cities that lead the list are (5) Swansboro, North Carolina; (4) Yakima, Washington; (3) Fairfield, Iowa; (2) Ocean Springs, Mississippi; and (1) Biddeford, Maine.