Geology
Rocks and minerals can be found in your own backyard. Explore the world around you and learn about the history of the formation of the Earth by studying geology. We've gathered resources to make it fun and interesting.
Things to See & Do in Utah
Pipe Spring National Monument
Pipe Spring National Monument, a little known gem of the National Park System, is rich with American Indian, early explorer and Mormon pioneer history. The water of Pipe Spring has made it possible for plants, animals, and people to live in this dry, desert region. Ancestral Puebloans and Kaibab Paiute Indians gathered grass seeds, hunted animals, and raised crops near the springs for at least 1,000 years. In the 1860s Mormon pioneers brought cattle to the area and by 1872 a fort (Winsor Castle) was built over the main spring and a large cattle ranching operation was established. This isolated outpost served as a way station for people traveling across the Arizona Strip, that part of Arizona separated from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon. It also served as a refuge for polygamist wives during the 1880s and 1890s. Although their way of life was greatly impacted, the Paiute Indians continued to live in the area and by 1907 the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation was established, surrounding the privately owned Pipe Spring ranch. In 1923 the Pipe Spring ranch was purchased and set aside as a national monument. Today the Pipe Spring National Monument - Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians Visitor Center and Museum explains the human history of the area over time. Daily tours of Winsor Castle, summer "living history" demonstrations, an orchard and garden, and a half-mile trail offer a glimpse of American Indian and pioneer life in the Old West.
Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument protects a large deposit of fossil dinosaur bones--remains of the so-called "terrible lizards" that lived millions of years ago. The dinosaurs weren't really lizards, and most of them weren't even terrible. But some of the first dinosaur fossils ever found were huge bones and teeth, very lizard-like except for their size, and so the idea of monstrous lizards was born. Today, many ideas about dinosaurs are changing, and the fossils at Dinosaur National Monument continue to help us learn more about these fascinating animals. There is also more to Dinosaur National Monument than dinosaurs. The 210,000 acres within the park will grab your attention with its beauty, rugged wildness, solitude, and silence.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park preserves over two thousand natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch, in addition to a variety of unique geological resources and formations. In some areas, faulting has exposed millions of years of geologic history.The extraordinary features of the park, including balanced rocks, fins and pinnacles, are highlighted by a striking environment of contrasting colors, landforms and textures.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park preserves a colorful landscape of sedimentary sandstones eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River and its tributaries. The Colorado and Green rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves. While the districts share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration and learning.
California National Historic Trail
The California Trail carried over 250,000 gold-seekers and farmers to the gold fields and rich farmlands of California during the 1840's and 1850's, the greatest mass migration in American history. Today, more than 1,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen in the vast undeveloped lands between Casper Wyoming and the West Coast, reminders of the sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of early American travelers and settlers. More than 240 historic sites along the trail will eventually be available for public use and interpretation. The trail passes through the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and California.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
A huge natural amphitheater has been eroded out of the variegated Pink Cliffs (Claron Formation) near Cedar City, Utah. Millions of years of sedimentation, uplift and erosion have created a deep canyon of rock walls, fins, spires and columns, that spans some three miles, and is over 2,000 feet deep. The rim of the canyon is over 10,000 feet above sea level, and is forested with islands of Englemann spruce, subalpine fir and aspen; separated by broad meadows of brilliant summertime wild flowers.
Bryce Canyon National Park
At Bryce Canyon National Park, erosion has shaped colorful Claron limestones, sandstones, and mudstones into thousands of spires, fins, pinnacles, and mazes. Collectively called "hoodoos," these colorful and whimsical formations stand in horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters along the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in Southern Utah.
Kennecott Utah Copper
Standing at the overlook within the Bingham Canyon Mine, you can see, hear, and feel the breathtaking and awesome magnitude of the largest man-made excavation on earth. While you watch the action in the mine, a descriptive narration recorded in several languages explains the operations. From the overlook, you can watch 240 and 320 ton capacity haulage trucks deliver copper ore to the in-pit crusher, where the material is reduced to the size of soccer balls before being loaded onto a five-mile conveyor that carries the ore to the Copperton Concentrator. Inside the large, modern Visitors Center are historic photographs, interactive exhibits, and three-dimensional models that provide an educational and entertaining experience for people of all ages. Finish your tour with a 14-minute video presentation that takes you into other Kennecott Utah Copper plant facilities to follow the production of copper from low grade ore in the mine, to 99.9 percent pure copper in the refinery.
Capitol Reef National Park
The Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long wrinkle in the earth's crust known as a monocline, extends from nearby Thousand Lakes Mountain to the Colorado River (now Lake Powell). Capitol Reef National Park was established to protect this grand and colorful geologic feature, as well as the unique historical and cultural history found in the area.
Timpanogos Cave National Monument
Timpanogos Cave National Monument sits high in the Wasatch Mountains. The cave system consists of three spectacularly decorated caverns. Each cavern has unique colors and formations. Helictites and anthodites are just a few of the many dazzling formations to be found in the many chambers. As visitors climb to the cave entrance, on a hike gaining over 1,000 feet in elevation, they are offered incredible views of American Fork Canyon.
Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Rainbow Bridge is the world's largest natural bridge. The span has undoubtedly inspired people throughout time--from the neighboring American Indian tribes who consider Rainbow Bridge sacred, to the 300,000 people from around the world who visit it each year. Please visit Rainbow Bridge in a spirit that honors and respects the cultures to whom it is sacred. While Rainbow Bridge is a separate unit of the National Park Service, it is proximate to and administered by Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Zion National Park
Zion is an ancient Hebrew word meaning a place of refuge or sanctuary. Protected within the park's 229 square miles is a dramatic landscape of sculptured canyons and soaring cliffs. Zion is located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin and Mojave Desert provinces. This unique geography and the variety of life zones within the park make Zion significant as a place of unusual plant and animal diversity.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA) offers unparalleled opportunities for water-based & backcountry recreation. The recreation area stretches for hundreds of miles from Lees Ferry in Arizona to the Orange Cliffs of southern Utah, encompassing scenic vistas, geologic wonders, and a panorama of human history. Additionally, the controversy surrounding the construction of Glen Canyon Dam and the creation of Lake Powell contributed to the birth of the modern day environmental movement.
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