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Vernal, Utah
—  City  —
Location of Vernal, Utah
Coordinates: 40°27′17″N 109°32′8″W / 40.45472, -109.53556Coordinates: 40°27′17″N 109°32′8″W / 40.45472, -109.53556
Country United States
State Utah
County Uintah
Settled 1876
Named for Vernal
 • Mayor Sonja Norton
(as of January 2014[1])
 • Total 4.6 sq mi (11.9 km2)
 • Land 4.6 sq mi (11.9 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 5,328 ft (1,624 m)
Population (2012)
 • Total 9,817
 • Density 2,100/sq mi (820/km2)
Time zone Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP codes 84078-84079
Area code(s) 435
FIPS code 49-80090[2]
GNIS feature ID 1433885[3]

Vernal, the county seat and largest city in Uintah County, is located in northeastern Utah about 175 miles (280 km) east of Salt Lake City and 20 miles (32 km) west of the Colorado border.[4] As of the 2012 census the population of Vernal was 9817.[5]


Vernal, unlike most Utah towns, was not settled by Mormons. Brigham Young sent a scouting party to Uintah Basin in 1861 and received word back the area was good for nothing but nomad purposes, hunting grounds for Indians and "to hold the world together." That same year, President Abraham Lincoln set the area aside as the Uintah Indian Reservation, with Captain Pardon Dodds appointed Indian agent.[6] Dodds later built the first cabin by a white man in the Uinta Basin about 1868. Settlers began to filter in after that and build cabins in various spots on or near Ashley Creek. In 1879 many came close to perishing in the famous "Hard Winter" of that year.


Vernal is located in the Uintah Basin, bordered on the north by the Uinta Mountains, one of the relatively few mountain ranges which lie in an east-west rather than the usual north to south direction. The Book Cliffs lie to the south, and Blue Mountain to the east, while Vernal itself lies in Ashley Valley, named in honor of William H. Ashley, an early fur trader who entered this area in 1825 by floating down the Green River in a bull boat made of animal hides.

Vernal is located at 40°27′17″N 109°32′08″W / 40.45472, -109.53556 on the northern edge of the Colorado Plateau and south of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area on the Utah-Wyoming state line. The city is situated in a high desert area of the Great Basin Desert.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.6 square miles (11.9 km²), all land.


Vernal's economy is based on extracting natural resources, including petroleum, natural gas, phosphate, and uintaite (more commonly known as Gilsonite™).[1] This has led to the establishment of branch offices of companies such as Halliburton and Schlumberger.[1]

Tourism also plays a role in Vernal's economy due to the town's roots in the Old West and being a large site of ancient dinosaur fossils.[1] Vernal and the surrounding area are popular among outdoor enthusiasts as they are situated near plentiful spots for fishing, fly fishing, hunting, and other outdoor activities.


Vernal's schools include Ashley Valley Education Center, Uintah High, Vernal Junior High, Vernal Middle, Ashley Elementary, Discovery Elementary, and a branch of Utah State University. In 2007, Uintah School District built new buildings for two elementary schools, Maeser and Naples Elementary, in the nearby communities to accommodate increased enrollment and eliminate unsafe older buildings. Other area schools include Davis Elementary, Lapoint Elementary, and Eagle View Elementary. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Rocky Mountain Branch.


Vernal is on a two-lane highway, US Highway 40, The city's Vernal-Uintah County Airport has scheduled air service to Salt Lake City provided by Delta Air Lines. Service is subsidized by the Essential Air Service program.


Vernal has a cold semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSk ) with low humidity. The average annual temperature is 45°F (7.2°C) with a mean high of 61°F (16.1°C) and a mean low of 29°F (-1.6°C).[7]

Climate data for Vernal, Utah (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 30.6
Average low °F (°C) 8.5
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.49
Snowfall inches (cm) 5.2
Source: NOAA[8]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 799
1890 1,305 63.3%
1900 664 −49.1%
1910 836 25.9%
1920 1,309 56.6%
1930 1,744 33.2%
1940 2,119 21.5%
1950 2,845 34.3%
1960 3,655 28.5%
1970 3,908 6.9%
1980 6,600 68.9%
1990 6,644 0.7%
2000 7,714 16.1%
2010 9,089 17.8%
Est. 2012 9,817 27.3%

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 7,714 people, 2,709 households, and 1,977 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,683.4 people per square mile (650.3/km²). There were 2,957 housing units at an average density of 645.3 per square mile (249.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.52% White, 0.18% African American, 2.31% Native American, 0.34% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.18% from other races, and 1.43% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.45% of the population. There were 2,709 households out of which 41.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.8% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.0% were non-families. 22.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.28.

In the city the population was spread out with 32.3% under the age of 18, 13.0% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 17.6% from 45 to 64, and 12.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 96.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,357, and the median income for a family was $34,453. Males had a median income of $32,137 versus $20,938 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,497. About 14.7% of families and 14.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.6% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.

Notable natives and residents[]

  • Earl W. Bascom - Inventor,[9] Hall of Fame rodeo cowboy, actor, international artist and sculptor [10]
  • Lane Frost - Rodeo star, attended junior high school in Vernal
  • E. Gordon Gee - Academic, has held more university presidencies (5) than any other American
  • Douglas Kent Hall - writer and photographer, Academy Award winner[11]
  • James Woods - Film and television actor

Notable buildings[]

Bank of Vernal

The Bank of Vernal (a.k.a. the 'Parcel Post' Bank) Building (3 West Main Street) is a registered historical building in the Uintah County Landmark Register.[12] Also known as "the Bank that was sent by Mail", the Bank of Vernal was constructed in 1916-1917 by William H. Coltharp, a Vernal businessman and entrepreneur. Coltharp took advantage of inexpensive Parcel Post rates to ship some 80,000 masonry bricks in fifty-pound (22.6 kg) packages via the U.S. Post Office the 180 miles (290 km) from Salt Lake City to Vernal.[13][14] The Parcel Post brick shipments were transported from Salt Lake to Mack, Colorado by Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, then proceeded to Watson via the narrow gauge Uintah Railway, finally Vernal by wagon freight through steep roads. The full trip was over 420 miles (675.9 km) long.[15] After completing delivery of the bricks, the U.S. Post Office hastily changed its regulations, establishing a limit of 200 pounds (91 kg) per day per sender. The United States Postmaster General Albert Sidney Burleson explicitly stated in a letter that "it is not the intent of the United States Postal Service that buildings be shipped through the mail"[16] Today the building is used as a branch office of Zions Bank.

The Quarry Visitor Center in Dinosaur National Monument, and the Vernal Utah Temple are other historic Vernal buildings.

The Vernal Temple is a small LDS temple in the old Vernal Tabernacle. It was built as the result of a local movement to save the old tabernacle when it was scheduled for demolition.

See also[]

  • Uintah County, Utah
  • Ashley National Forest
  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area
  • Flaming Gorge Dam
  • Uinta Mountains
  • Book Cliffs
  • Green River (Utah)
  • Ouray National Wildlife Refuge
  • Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge
  • Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation


  1. ^ a b c d "Vernal, Utah". Fastest growing boomtowns. CNNMoney. March 19, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-20. "High energy prices have boosted the town's economy in recent years, according to a recent mayor of Vernal. Besides the well-paying oilfield jobs, several branch offices of companies like Halliburton and Schlumberger have opened in the area, he said, with more coming." 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Vernal". Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  7. ^ Vernal, Utah from
  8. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Rodeo - Earl Bascom". 1995-08-28. Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  10. ^ "Earl Bascom: Master Sculpture and The Cowboy of Cowboy Artists". Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  11. ^ "Photographer Douglas Kent Hall". 2006-05-26. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  12. ^ "Parcel Post Bank (2) Markers". Markers and Monuments Database. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  13. ^ "Precious Packages—America's Parcel Post Service". Exhibits. National Postal Museum. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  14. ^ The Bank That Was Sent Through the Post Office from
  15. ^ "National Postal Museum". Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  16. ^ Reay, Lee "The Bank That Was Sent By Mail". Postal Life'. May–April 1971.

External links[]

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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Vernal, Utah. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.