Dinosaurs are not the only prehistoric creatures whose fossil remains can be found in the West.
At the second annual Green River Rock and Mineral Festival, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regional paleontologist Greg MacDonald will give a presentation on Friday, March 23, about his expertise – the extinct giant ground sloth – an Ice-Age animal which adapted to live in the sea.
MacDonald became interested in sloths after a skeleton was found outside Pocatello, Idaho.
The rock and mineral festival, which will run from March 23 through March 25, also includes several natural history field trips, a marketplace of vendors selling rock and gem-related items, and a “karaoke night” at West Winds Restaurant in Green River.
The vendor market takes place at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum, 1765 Main St., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 24. There will be slabs and rough rocks, as well as gems, plus cut and domed stones available. An apothecary vendor will also be present offering products made from local ingredients, such as piñon sap.
“Our festival is more about education – the field trips are the main thing,” said Maria Sykes, executive director of Epicenter, the Green River nonprofit that is organizing the event.
Field trips include a visit to Crystal Geyser, a cold-water geyser south of Green River that rises 10 feet into the air.
“The site itself is incredible,” Sykes said. “It’s made from an impressive travertine formation – it’s a beautiful site.”
Other field trips include rock hounding for pigeon-blood agate; and a guided trip with BLM regional paleontologist ReBecca Hunt-Foster to two different dinosaur track sites, where people can view fossils of eight different species of dinosaur and a crocodile, Sykes said.
Then there’s the Sunset Club – a drive to a nearby hill to go geode hunting and watch the sunset. “They’re spectacular in our area,” Sykes said.
In addition to his talk on March 23, MacDonald will lead a field trip to Fossil Point on Sunday for an opportunity to see a variety of fossils.
“There are more than just dinosaur fossils,” around here, MacDonald said.
Festival and vendor coordinator Anna Evans is pleased to bring MacDonald back again this year to the rock and mineral festival.
“He’s really awesome,” Evans said. “When you’re out there with him, he’s able to paint a picture; he brought it to life.”
On March 25, there will be a guided trip to the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur quarry near the San Rafael Swell and the town of Cleveland. Signup for this field trip begins on the evening of March 23 at the MacDonald lecture. The trip is limited to 30 participants.
“After we go to the quarry, we’ll make our way back to Green River, stopping at various rock art sites; petroglyphs,” Sykes said.
The festival also includes self-guided trips to Black Dragon Canyon or Sego Canyon.
The event is made possible by the Emery County Travel Board, the City of Green River, Sorenson Legacy Foundation, the BLM, Allison Jean Cole, Anna Evans, the John Wesley Powell River History Museum, Jackie Nelson, Robber’s Roost Motel, the Epicenter, and others. Additional sponsors are being sought, Sykes said.
Field trips are a highlight of town’s rock and mineral festival
What: Second annual Rock and Mineral Festival
Where: John Wesley Powell River History Museum in Green River
When: Friday, March 23, through Sunday, March 25
Information: greenriverrocks.com; 435-564-3330
Visit greenriverrocks.com for a full description of field trips and departure times.