Wednesday, Aug 18, 2010
The park held its first-ever Geology Festival on the last two days of July. The event focused on the beautiful and fascinating geology and paleontology of the park and surrounding region.
Over the course of this two-day event, a thousand people attended special programs, including ranger-led hikes among the hoodoos, geology talks, geology bus tours, children’s activities on geology, special exhibits, and illustrated programs. The festival also offered three-hour long geology bus tours into the park led by Bryce Canyon Natural History executive director and paleontologist Gayle Pollock and ranger Sean Duffy.
Among the many highlights of this Geology Festival were two special guest speakers, Wayne Ranney and Dave Gillette, who presented illustrated programs to “standing-room-only” audiences.
Ranney is a geologic interpreter and author, has served as a backcountry ranger in the Grand Canyon, and has traveled around the world as a renowned speaker. He is an adjunct faculty member at Yavapai College in Sedona, Arizona, and has authored Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau and Carving Grand Canyon and Sedona Through Time. In his presentation, visitors witnessed the fascinating evolution of landforms over time.
Gillette has an endowed chair at the Museum of Northern Arizona and is the former Utah state paleontologist. He is responsible for some of the most significant paleontological discoveries in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. His presentation, “Therizinosaur – Mystery of the Sickle Claw Dinosaur,” captured the imagination of both young and old alike.
A very popular exhibit on loan from the Bureau of Land Management was a dinosaur skull and fossilized skin imprint of a hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur, recovered nearby from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Although Bryce Canyon is known for its colorful and oddly shaped rock spires called hoodoos, a number of fossils have been found within the park and surrounding area. Paleontologists continue to make discoveries that reveal the rich and varied earth history that’s shaped this landscape into what we see today.
Also at the celebration were booths on Cedar Breaks National Monument, Red Canyon (Dixie National Forest), and the park’s fossil table.
Special thanks goes to the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association, whose generous donation provided funding for the program.
To learn more about the park’s geology and paleontology through interactive games and an electronic field trip broadcast produced by the National Park Foundation, click on this link .