Talking Rocks Outdoor Company
Geology Tours and Trailhead Shuttle Service

Talking Rocks 2019, Spring Tour

(See below for Fall Tour)

Seven Days

May 5-12, 2019

Seven days exploring the geology and scenery of southwest Utah and environs.

Sleep in tents or under the stars.

Study geology and paleontology with Gerry Bryant of the Colorado Plateau Institute

(Guest instructor on Friday: Stephen Rowland, a paleontologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas)

Eat incredibly delicious food prepared by Robert Johnston.

Hike to breathtaking overlooks and fascinating outcrops.

Enjoy conversations around the campfire considering the great questions of beauty and justice, God and humanity, geology and theology.



  • Arrive Las Vegas/McCarran International Airport by 1 p.m.
  • 4:30 p.m. Visit St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm
  • Sunday night. Camp at Snow Canyon State Park


  • Explore geology in St. George area.

The picture on the left is a fossil riverbed. And the ripples are fossils–that is they are hard rock preservations of what were once upon a time soft ripples in the bed of a broad, shallow river. The ripples on the right are modern ripples immediately downstream from the stone ripples in the picture on the left.

  • Monday night.  Snow Canyon State Park


  • The Virgin Anticline and Zion Overlook Trail.
  • Tuesday night. Camp at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.


  • Bryce Canyon hike and geology.
  • Wednesday night. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.


  • Moccasin Mountain dinosaur trackway
  • Thursday night.  Valley of Fire State Park


  • Atlatl rock tracks. Guest instructor, Stephen Rowland, professor of paleontology, UNLV.
  • Friday night. Valley of Fire State Park


  • Valley of Fire  Willow Tank Thrust Fault and petrified logs.  Prospect Trail.
  • Valley of Fire State Park


  • Las Vegas/McCarran International Airport

Talking Rocks Fall Tour

October 27-November 3, 2019

Death Valley National Park

An exploration of the Basin and Range geology of Death Valley and surrounding areas. Our geology guide, as usual, was Gerry Bryant, Ph.D. director of the Colorado Plateau Institute and science director for Talking Rocks Tours. Two other working geologists, Brad Thurber and Mark Thurber, joined us on this trip and added their expertise. On Thursday we had a surprise guest appearance by Marli Miller, author of the recent Roadside Geology books for both Oregon and Washington. She has also written a guide for the geology of Death Valley.

We had planned to camp, but the weather was uncharacteristically cold, too cold for leisurely evenings around a campfire. Through the courtesy of Darrel Cowan, emeritus professor of geology at the University of Washington, we were able to stay at SHEAR, Shoshone Education and Research Center. The facilities are very primitive, but the dorm rooms and dining area enabled us to enjoy our social time together in the evenings.


Sunday. Arrive Las Vegas in the morning. Afternoon in Valley of Fire State Park. Hiked to the Willow Tank Thrust Fault. Checked out a fascinating lag deposit of Paleocene chert nodules sitting on top of Cretaceous sandstone.

Monday. Checked out dinosaur and scorpion tracks in the sandstone near Atlatl Rock. Noticed another thrust fault–the Muddy Mountain thrust fault. Drove to Shoshone and stopped at a fascinating, perplexing exposure of obsidian in a road cut.


Tuesday. Visited a pup fish refuge. These pup fish, small, minnow-sized fish in a tiny pond, are a remnant population from the large fish population that used to live in the huge lakes the filled the basins in this area. Death Valley itself 10,000 years ago was filled with Lake Manly that was 400 feet deep. Visited a museum in Shoshone that was surprisingly informative. Then checked out the geology and scenery on a drive to Badwater, Artists’ Drive, and Zabriski Point.

Wednesday. Mosaic and Titus Canyons and Mesquite Flat Dunes.

Thursday. Monarch Canyon with Marli Miller. Dr. Miller lectured on metamorphic rocks which were on grand display here. Check out her web site:

Friday. Option A: A 14-mile round trip hike to Telescope Peak. From the top, 11,043 feet, you can look down to Badwater, -279 feet. It is a mind-stretching vista. Option B: Geology road trip to a talc mine, billion-year-old stromatolite fossils, China Date Ranch, and the Kingston Peak Megabreccia.

In the photo on the left are two stromatolites. One with its dome intact. The other with the top cut away so you can see the layering inside. In the photo on the right, you see a limestone rock which has fallen onto thin laminae of mud and deformed them. The mud layers were soft and the rock was hard when this occurred. The texturing on the surface of the rock occurred after this formation was cut by erosion. (Kingston Peak Formation)

Saturday. Hole in the Wall Canyon and Ted Hoehn’s Horn Coral Formation near Pahrump.

Horn coral and other marine corals. This formation (Mississippian) stretches for more than two kilometers.

Sunday. To Las Vegas Airport.