Cacti, Rock Art & Fabulous Geology

CC&SS May 2017 Fantasy Canyon (Vernal, UT) Field Trip

An overnight field trip to the Vernal, UT area, is scheduled for CC&SS members for the weekend of May 20-21. Sights on the itinerary include:

– Rare and wonderful cacti
– Fremont Culture and Ute rock art
– Unique erosional forms of Fantasy Canyon
– Oil and gas resources, including oil shale and tar sands, and
– Gilsonite mining and the story of this unusual “solid” oil

Men Cross on Alhandra Ferry Used by permission. Uintah County Library Regional History Center, all rights reserved.

Saturday travel from Grand Junction to Vernal includes stops for rock art at Canyon Pintado, a lunch and learn at the Rangely Outdoor Museum, and a Pediocactus hunt on gravel terraces above the Green River.

Sunday includes stops at Fantasy Canyon, a search for Sclerocactus wetlandicus, and an exploration of gilsonite veins and mining near Bonanza, UT.

An optional third day on Friday May 19 will visit sites southwest of Vernal to see Sclerocactus brevispinus (the “Pariette” cactus).

The field trip area has a rich and colorful history including connections to the Grand Valley. For example, from 1904 to 1939 gilsonite was hauled by the narrow gauge Uintah Railway to Mack, CO, for further shipping to end users. From 1957 to 1973 gilsonite was transported as a slurry in water via pipeline over the old railway route to a Chevron refinery at Gilsonite (Loma), CO.

For overnight accommodations, some rooms in Vernal have been blocked for “Chinle Cactus”) at the (formerly Best Western) Antlers Inn, 2 queen beds inc. breakfast $85.50 + $10.09 tax, phone 435-789-1202 to reserve. You are encouraged to make plans and book early; unreserved rooms will be released April 20.

Options for trailers/camping include:

Steinaker State Park: 4335 US191, Electric, water & sewer; electric & water; or tent sites,  Use Reserve America to make reservations online, 7 miles N of Vernal
Red Fleet State Park: 8700 N US 191; Electric, water & sewer; electric & water; or tent sites, Use Reserve America to make reservations online, 13 miles N of Vernal
Dinosaurland (Dino) KOA: 930 N Vernal Ave, Electric, water and sewer hookups and WiFi, 435-789-2148
Fossil Valley RV Park: 999 US 40, Electric, water and sewer hookups and WiFi,435-789-6450
Western Heritage RV: 271 S 500 E, Electric, water and sewer hookups and WiFi,435-789-332