In the Land of Color: Exploring Billings Gap and the Red Basin Clam Beds
October 26 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm MST
Instructor: Christa Sadler
Petrified Forest is one of the most beautiful and fantastical landscapes anywhere; the national park is famous for the petrified wood that lies scattered across the landscape. The wood and the beautifully colored rocks tell a fascinating story of ancient rivers flowing across a supercontinent that stretched end to end on our globe, and of all the creatures and plants that called that land home between 225 and 200 million years ago.
And although the park is famous for its fossils, it is also a wonderful place to explore unique plant and animal adaptations to life in the desert, and the ancient and modern processes that have contributed to making this landscape—and continue to this day.
Join us on this full-day adventure in the Petrified Forest’s Red Basin as we explore the park’s geology, paleontology, history, flora and fauna, and whatever other surprises we discover!
The hike to Red Basin is an 8.5-mile loop hike, beginning at the base of Blue Mesa. This is a really special place, as it lies within the 2004 boundary expansion area of the park and is definitely off the beaten path.
It is a fossil-rich area, and we will have the opportunity to explore everything from petrified wood to fossil clam beds, as well as a number of unique erosional formations such as hoodoos, mesas, badlands, and narrow arroyos. The variety of features on this hike makes it unique within the park, and worth the effort it takes to get there.
We will meet at the Painted Desert Visitor Center at the park’s northern entrance for a short introduction to the park and the day. Following this, we will carpool to the trailhead for the Red Basin hike.
- Meeting time: 8:00 AM
- Class will be over by 5:00 PM
- $185 – Non-Member
- $150 – Member *Learn more at PFMA site
- Trail length: 8.5 miles with minimal elevation change.
- Difficulty: moderate only because of length; there are a few scrambly areas. Please make sure you are prepared to hike 8.5 miles. Even though there is little elevation change, 8.5 miles is still challenging.
- Please wear sturdy shoes and sun protection. The hike has little to no shade, so you will want a sun hat and sunscreen. Bring a lunch, snacks, and at least three liters of water in a daypack.
- Other useful items: binoculars and camera, hiking pole(s).
Maximum number of participants: 10
Minimum age of participants: 15 (must be accompanied by parent or guardian)