|Antelope Canyon, on the Navajo Reservation near Page, Arizona|
The Colorado Plateau, the region encompassing large parts of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado, is one of the great geologic showplaces on planet Earth. Within the region, one can see in vivid colorful detail nearly two billion years of Earth history, from the ancient Proterozoic crust exposed at the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the Cenozoic lake sediments that formed the strange hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. The plateau country has been central to many of my blogs over the last five years, including three major series: Time Beyond Imagining, Vagabonding Across the 39th Parallel, and The Abandoned Lands (I'm also slowly working on the latest, America's Never-Never). In addition to being a bountiful source of information about the past, it is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
|The Great Unconformity, the erosional boundary between the Proterozoic rocks of the Yavapai Orogeny and the Cambrian Tonto Group exposed in Diamond Creek on the Hualapai Reservation.|
|The Colorado River at Diamond Creek on the Hualapai Reservation|
From Kingman, we will head northeast on the longest remaining stretch of Route 66 to Peach Springs. At this point we expect to make our way down Diamond Creek, the only place where one can drive to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We will have a close look at the Proterozoic and lower Paleozoic rocks of the canyon, formations not easily accessed in most parts of the Grand Canyon. If we are lucky, we may run across a herd of bighorn sheep.
|Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam.|
|The Cockscomb monocline near Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah.|
From Kodachrome Basin, we will climb through the Cretaceous sediments of the plateau country, including the Tropic Shale and Mesa Verde Group. We will arrive at Bryce Canyon National Park, which exposes one of the youngest formations on the Colorado Plateau, the Claron Formation. The hoodoos of Bryce are some of the most photogenic rocks to be seen anywhere. There will be time to hike below the rim for a completely different perspective on the unusual spires.
Our route will take us on a little-traveled road through the western and northern part of the park to Lava Point. Along the way we will traverse a unique inverted stream, and pass through some rarely seen lava flows and cinder cones.
Leaving Zion, we will head southwest back to Las Vegas.
The guidebook for the trip was written by myself and my son Andrew, an anthropology professor at Modesto Junior College. It includes a great deal of information on the natural and human history of the plateau, as well as the geology.
This is the second time we are making this journey, and we had a great time last year, with a marvelous group of geologists and their families, some of whom traveled from as far away as Australia and Canada. This year's crew looks to be equally international.
There are a host of other wonders along the route! I've been writing about this country for a long time, introducing you, my readers, to one of the most beautiful and geologically rich corners of our planet. We've traveled together in words and pictures, and I would love the opportunity to travel with some of you in person this summer. Join us!
Detailed information and registration forms can be accessed at on the AAPG site (click here) I would be pleased to answer any questions you might have by emailing me at hayesg (at) mjc.edu.