[Courtesy of Ryan Baxter]

After a two-year hiatus, Green River Rocks, the annual rock and mineral festival held in Green River, Utah, will return for a weekend full of geology lectures, guided field trips, rockhounding, and a rock and mineral pop-up market. The festival will run from Friday, April 1 to Sunday, April 3.

“I think we’re seeing a return to the outdoors and interest in southern Utah as a place and the things you can do here,” said Summer Orr, event coordinator, “so we’re seeing a resurgence of all kinds of tourists, especially to Green River.”

“I imagine this event will probably be the biggest one yet,” Orr said.

Festivities begin on Friday night with the opening lecture delivered by Dr. Julia Mchugh. Mchugh is a vertebrate paleontologist whose studies focus on Jurassic faunas, taphonomy (the process of fossilization), and temnospondyl evolution (temnospondyli are an order of tetrapods or primitive amphibians). She currently works as a curator of paleontology at Dinosaur Journey in Fruita, CO.

On Saturday, the pop-up market will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rock, jewelry, mineral, food, and local artisan vendors will sell their wares alongside educational booths—just over 15 vendors are expected to come, Orr said. There will also be six field trips on Saturday, which include a trip to Jurassic Monument; exploring rock art in the San Rafael Swell and another trip exploring rock art in Sego Canyon; learning about the Cretaceous Ash Disaster; exploring the Mill Creek Dinosaur Track Site and a trip to Fossil Point.

There will be five field trips on Sunday: a trip to Goblin Valley; exploring rock art in Buckhorn Wash and another exploring rock art in Sego Canyon; a trip to Fossil Point; and a trip to the Mill Creek Dinosaur Track Site.

All field trips are free, guided by local experts, and range from three hours to five and a half hours. Orr said the festival prides itself on being a free, educational event.

“These places are kind of life-changing,” she said. “They’re just really interesting places that don’t get a lot of recognition in the broader southern Utah travel sites. Green River is often overlooked, but we’re trying to gain an appreciation for and interest in these places so they can be preserved, so they can be documented, and so they can garner more love for this place across the state.”

Attendees can sign up for a trip during the Friday evening lecture and on Saturday and Sunday at the festival booth outside the John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River, which opens at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. All sign-ups are first come first serve and must be done in person; attendees will also caravan to the sites in their own vehicles. The field trips do have a participant limit, so sign up early.

On Saturday, there will be two other lectures: Allyson Mathis, a geologist based in Moab, will discuss local geology, and Steve Acerson, president of the Utah Rock Art Research Association, will discuss rock art and conservation.

Orr expects between 300 and 400 people, both locals and tourists, to come to the festival.

“Green River is such a natural, beautiful space with all kinds of access to dinosaur bones or fossils or rockhounding,” Orr said. “It really is a treasure.”

The full schedule of events is listed at www.greenriverrocks.com, and all events are free.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all these people from all types of backgrounds, whether they’re rockhounders or people who went to school for geology or archaeology, to all meet in the same place to appreciate and get involved with the same thing,” Orr said. “It’s really cool to see.”