Bryce Canyon Geology Festival - A Success

Collage of Photos

Photos from the Geology Festival

Dan Ng

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News Release Date: August 16, 2010
Contact: Dan Ng, 435.834.4740

Bryce Canyon's Geology Festival - A "Rousing Success!"

On July 30-31, Bryce Canyon National Park celebrated its first Geology Festival as it highlighted its most stunning resource: the beautiful and fascinating geology and paleontology of the park and surrounding region. The area’s colorful canyons, plateaus and peaks attract millions of visitors from all over the world each year.

Over this two-day event, a thousand people attended special programs which included, ranger-led hikes among the hoodoos, geology talks, geology bus tours, children’s activities on geology, special exhibits, and illustrated programs. The festival offered 3-hour long geology bus tours into 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. Mr. 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.

Dr. Gillette has an endowed chair position 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 of the 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.

Joining in on the celebrate were booths staffed by Cedar Breaks National Monument, Red Canyon from the Dixie National Forest and as well as the park’s fossil table. Special thanks goes to the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association whose generous donation provided funding for the program.

One couple, upon seeing the festival announcement over the internet, drove the 270 miles from Salt Lake City just to attend the event. Acting Superintendent, Kathleen Gonder, proclaimed this first-ever Geology Festival a "rousing success!" Says Gonder, "Whether you were an amateur rock or fossil hound, or a professional geologist or paleontologist, Bryce Canyon’s Geology Festival offered something for everyone!"

Visitors, park partners, and potential guest speakers are already expressing interest in participating in next year’s Geology Festival. Adds Gonder, "With the success of this year’s Festival, we will definitely be offering Geology Festivals for many years to come!"

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

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