Scablands and badlands, craters and critters (fossilized, that is). Whether you’re an aspiring geologist or amateur paleontologist, the diverse landscapes of the public lands showcase features ranging from the delightfully bizarre to the simply breathtaking.
If gravity-defying arches and ghostly hoodoos are what you seek, wander among the water-carved, wind-polished sculptures that grace the remote expanses of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Or perhaps your interests run to dinosaurs. If so, catch a guided tour of the fossil-rich, Jurassic bone beds of Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, home of the fearsome (and, thankfully, extinct) allosaur. And finding your way backwards in time is an enticing proposition at colorful Vermilion Cliffs, where a lithified “layer cake” of seven stacked geologic formations is exposed to view.
The public lands also offer splendid opportunities for rockhounds and fossil fans alike: at some BLM sites, recreational collectors may gather small numbers of rocks, semi-precious gemstones, and certain plant and invertebrate—but not vertebrate—fossils. (Be sure to check out the ethics provided here, consult individual site descriptions for collecting guidelines, and contact BLM before rockhounding or fossil collecting.)
Eons of geologic processes and terrestrial upheavals have left their signatures across the public lands to awe, inspire, and educate visitors. The deep canyons beckon you, the peaks and pinnacles await. Just pack your binoculars, grab your compass, and choose the geologic journey that’s right for you.
• Respect and preserve the past—leave geologic features undisturbed.
• Contact BLM for rules about amateur collecting of rocks and plant and invertebrate fossil specimens.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
“Fossils on America’s Public Lands,”
BLM brochure available from BLM offices.