Bighorn Mesa from Hardscrabble B Campsite
camera_alt Greg Willis via Wikimedia Commons
Bighorn Mesa

Utah Fossil & Geology Tour

(sample itinerary)

Tour Dates: Available May – October

DAY 1: Salt Lake City

Arrive at the Salt Lake Airport and meet your local tour director and motor-coach. Then depart for a short sightseeing tour of Salt Lake City including the Natural History Museum of Utah. This amazing museum illuminates the natural world and the place of humans within it. Five levels of exhibits guide you through the natural history and wonders of the area from prehistoric fossils to modern day. A great introduction to the geology, fossils and ecology the group will be studying first hand during the rest of the trip. Tonight join the group for a welcome dinner party.

Overnight, Salt Lake City, UT 
 

DAY 2: Dinosaur Dig - Moab

This morning take a short drive to Thanksgiving Point and the Museum of Ancient Life, which is the world’s largest Dinosaur museum, for a guided tour, activities and an Imax film. Then travel to the town of Price and the College of Eastern Utah where paleontologists will meet the group at the Prehistoric Museum for an educational discussion and orientation. While at the Museum, students will have some hands on experiences with fossils. Then split up into smaller groups and head into the field—an actual dinosaur fossil dig site where the students will have the opportunity to get their hands dirty as they work under the supervision of a paleontologist an area dinosaur bone quarry. Dinosaur fossils in this region are primarily from the Cretaceous era and many of them are new species.

After time at the dig site, return to the CEU Paleontology Lab for more hands-on experiences with the preparation of fossils. Take a short tour of the Lab and then get to work cataloging and working with real dinosaur bones. This will be an incredible day as the students receive first-hand experience covering the entire process of paleontology studies from fossil discovery, documentation, dig site field work, fossil study and preparations in the lab to publishing the findings and putting the fossils on display. In the late afternoon travel to Moab, Utah’s adventure capitol, for a 3 night stay. After a chance to check in and clean up, join the group for an all you can eat Pizza Party! Then have an introduction to the geology of the area during an evening presentation of “Canyons, Peaks and Plateaus: Natural History of the Colorado Plateau”, by a local geologist.

Overnight, Moab, UT
 

DAY 3: Arches – Rock Art - Hiking

This morning, enter Arches National Park and start the day with an amazing hike to Delicate Arch. Today you will learn of the unique geology of the area which created the highest concentration of natural arches in the world with over 2,000 named arches within the park boundaries. Park rangers will educate the group on the geology and ecology of Arches and you will visit other scenic locations. It will be a morning of discovery as the group hikes and walks its way through the park. Return to Moab with free time for lunch on own, then take a short walk to an ancient rock art panel on the edge of Arches NP that reveals a series of Barrier Canyon-style pictographs and petroglyphs.

Next take a short drive to the Negro Bill Canyon Trailhead and depart on a hike to Morning Glory Arch, one of the longest arches on the planet. Part of a Wilderness Study Area, the spring-fed creek running in the canyon is one of a few in the area that run year-round and consequently displays a unique and rich diversity of riparian vegetation and animal life. Students will explore the habitat looking for riparian and aquatic life and compare it with the desert upland vegetation. There will also be the opportunity to discuss issues of cattle grazing, conservation and Wilderness Areas. This evening enjoy a BBQ cookout dinner.

Overnight, Moab, UT 
 

DAY 4: Colorado River - Conservation

Today enjoy a fun and educational experience as you go rafting on the Colorado River. Learn of the contribution of the river to the ecology and human history of the Colorado Plateau. View diverse bird life, visit placer gold mining sites, see movie sets and take a short hike through a narrow side canyon for some spectacular views. This is a hands-on experience as students gain river running skills in a safe setting in both calm and splashy waters (Class I to II rapids).A picnic lunch will be served on a sandy beach.

Students will also learn about the wildlife habitats and the threats that face wildlife along the river corridor. This afternoon, enjoy a conservation experience. The group will spend a couple of hours volunteering on a conservation project contributing to the health of the land at a local site. (Location and project TBA) Return to the hotel with a little free time to clean up and relax, then join the group for dinner and bowling.

Overnight, Moab, UT 
 

DAY 5: Goblin Valley – Capitol Reef

Depart Moab and travel to Goblin Valley State Park, one of the most unique sights in the west, for hiking through a fantasyland of oddly shaped rock formations that at some points look like an army of goblins. Then continue to Capitol Reef National Park for a picnic lunch and a Park Ranger led discussion on the geology of the Water Pocket Fold. This 100 mile fold in the earth’s crust is an amazing display of the geologic forces that created the Colorado Plateau. Erosion has since carved the spectacular cliffs and rock formations of Capitol Reef. Spend the afternoon hiking to some of the famous sites in the park. After a full day, arrive at the hotel in Torrey. After dinner join the group for a movie at the local historic theater.

Overnight, Torrey, UT 
 

DAY 6: Trilobite Dig – Salt Lake City

Today the group will travel to U-Dig Fossils, a quarry west of Delta, to enjoy a day of digging for Trilobites. After a brief lesson each student will be able to dig on their own for the 250 million year old fossils which are plentiful here. Every student is guaranteed to unearth many fossils and they may take home any they find. A picnic lunch will be provided. In the afternoon, travel back to Salt Lake City and check into the hotel with some time to freshen up. Then join the group for an evening of fun at the farewell dinner party; there will be all kinds of activities and games available to help celebrate the end of an amazing trip to Utah.

Overnight, Salt Lake City, UT 
 

DAY 7: Journey Home

Transfer to the Salt Lake Airport for your departure. 
 

Tour Includes:

  • 6 night accommodations
  • Transportation by motor-coach
  • Services of a professional Western
  • Leisure tour director
  • 6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 6 dinners
  • Entrance fees to attractions, national parks and monuments as mentioned in itinerary
  • Entrance Fee to national parks, monuments, attractions, and activities
  • Dinosaur dig, museum and lab experience at CEU
  • Trilobite fossil-digging experience
  • Instructions and assistance from professional paleontologists, geologists, conservationists and park rangers
  • Tips for included meals
  • Luggage handling (1 suitcase per person)
  • Customary gratuities for the tour director, driver, local guides, and outfitters

Not Included:

  • Airfare
  • Meals (other than mentioned in the itinerary)
  • Items of a personal nature (i.e., room service, telephone, liquor, etc.)

Complimentary Trips:

  • 1 complimentary twin trip for an adult chaperone per every 10 paid students
     
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