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Explore the bookcliffs with Canyonlands Field Institute

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Driving along I-70 -- on top of trails used by Native Americans, fur trappers and pioneers --you can't help but notice the bookcliffs. Grey mancos shale rises up from the base and transitions into the Green River Formation's steep cliffs, reminiscent of bookshelves which gave this area its name. These steep cliffs are examples of sedimentary rock from the Cenozoic Era not often seen in the Colorado Plateau.

Yet, this layer of rock is invaluable in understanding the Colorado Plateau and explaining its evolution. Chief Geologist under Powell, Grove K. Gilbert, was one of the most important individuals to the history of the Colorado Plateau studied this area extensively. Up on these high cliffs, he stood looking southward studying the geology of this landscape as he helped pioneer the field of geomorphology. Geomorphology has been eloquently described as the study of how "mountains are born and mountains die, and rivers are the typical destroyers." It was here in the bookcliffs that Gilbert focused his vision on these erosional forces.

Many people called the bookcliffs home before Powell and Gilbert arrived. Through artifacts and rock art found in this area we know that there has been habitation in these cliffs and mountains for thousands of years. The bookcliffs also contain a plethora of wildlife.

Canyonlands Field Institute is offering a rare opportunity for eight people to a field seminar to this remote landscape. Guest experts, John Weisheit and Michael "Red" Wolfe will lead this exploratory learning experience over three days of truck-supported camping May 27-29.

To learn more, go to cfimoab.org, call 435-259-7750, or email info@cfimoab.org.

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