Field Trips

Clam Beds Geology Hike

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
State Standards:
See attached Teacher's Guide for a list of educational standards.


Grades 3-8, 60-90 minutes in park program

Pre-Visit Activity: Create sedimentary rocks in jars and make predictions about how the layers will form. Observe and record how they actually form. 45-60 min

In-Park Activity: Students will participate in a guided 1 mile off-trail hike with a ranger in the park. They will use observation and inference skills to create hypotheses about the Late Triassic environment, simulating the work that geologists and paleontologists have done and continue to do at Petrified Forest National Park. This hike involves a small amount of uphill walking in potentially muddy conditions. Group size is limited to 25 students. 60-90 min

Post-Visit Activity: Students use the geologic reference text to complete the geology puzzle activity. 15-30 mins

Lesson Goals

  • Develop an understanding of the sciences of paleontology and geology by learning the skills and concepts involved
  • Be introduced to geological time periods represented within Petrified Forest National Park
  • Explore the basic goals of paleontology and geology through participation in a guided off-trail hike with a ranger
  • Use observation and inference skills to determine how clues from rocks and fossils can provide insight into past environments.
  • Become aware of the importance of preservation of natural and scientific resources
  • Understand the role of the National Park Service in the preservation and protection of natural, cultural, and scientific resources.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • describe paleontology as the study of ancient life on earth through fossils
  • describe geology as the study of the rocks and earth processes
  • list geological time periods represented at the park
  • explain why choices have consequences
  • use observation skills to create hypotheses about the natural world
  • recognize that paleontological resources are nonrenewable
  • describe at least one thing they learned about Petrified Forest National Park and/or the National Park Service.


Programs are available between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

To request this program, please contact the education program coordinator at least three weeks before your visit. 

Phone: (928) 524-6228 ext.276


Educational Fee Waivers
School groups, including home schools, may apply for an educational fee waiver several weeks before a visit. Without an approved application, school groups will be considered a noncommercial group and charged entrance fees accordingly.

Travel Grants 
Each year Petrified Forest National Park offers funding to help schools cover transportation costs to the park for educational field trips. Travel grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. School groups unable to visit the park without financial assistance are encouraged to apply, however, any school group is eligible to apply and can send in an application at any time.


This teacher's guide contains background knowledge for your students, education standards associated with the field trip, and student assessment questions.

Download Clam Beds Geology Hike Teacher's Guide

Download Educational Fee Waiver Application

Download Travel Grant Application

Last updated: October 22, 2018