2016 Rocky Mountain Friends of the Pleistocene Field Trip

Geomorphology of the Grand Staircase region of the Colorado Plateau

October 14-16, 2016

Classic arroyo geomorphology


Tammy Rittenour, Utah State University

Kerry Riley, Utah State University

Additional co-leaders contributing research and leading stops:

Dave Wilkins, Boise State University

Rick Ford, Weber State University

Jon Harvey, Fort Lewis College

Joel Pederson, Utah State University

Michelle Nelson, Utah State University


THANK YOU to all the field trip leaders and those who attended for making this a great FOP trip! Hope to see you in Idaho in 2017.

Here are a few memories from this trip.

Dave Wilkins and Rick Ford discuss dune development and history at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Tammy Rittenour discussing regional arroyo chronologies at Best Friends overlook

Upper Kanab Creek arroyo stratigraphy

Arroyo wall collapse along Johnson Wash

Final stop led by Joel Pederson and Jon Harvey on slot canyon desposits

USU group photo, Tammy Rittenour and Kerry Riley (trip leaders) on far left

Relevant Literature -

Ford, R.L., Gillman, S.L., Wilkins, D.E., Clement, W.P., and Nicoll, K., 2010. Geology and geomorphology of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah. In “Geology of Utah’s Parks and Monuments,” D.A. Sprinkel, T.C. Chidsey, Jr., and P.B. Anderson (Eds.). Utah Geological Association Publication 28 (third edition).

Ford, R.L., Massoth, T.W., and Wilkins, D.E., 2012. Geologic road guides to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and vicinity, Utah. In “Geologic Road, Trail, and Lake Guides to Utah’s Parks and Monuments,” P.B. Anderson and D.A. Sprinkel (Eds). Utah Geological Association Publication 29 (third edition).

Harvey, J.E., Pederson, J.L., and Rittenour, T.M., 2010. The alluvial records of Buckskin Wash, Utah. In Geology of South-Central Utah, Stephanie M. Carney, David E. Tabet, and Cari L. Johnson (Eds.). Utah Geological Association Publication 39.

Harvey, J.E., Pederson, J.L., and Rittenour, T.M., 2011. Exploring relations between arroyo cycles and canyon paleoflood records in Buckskin Wash, Utah: Reconciling scientific paradigms. Geological Society of America Bulletin 123: 2266-2276.

Hayden-Lesmeister, A., and Rittenour, T.M., 2014. Chronostratigraphy of Holocene valley-fill alluvium and arroyo cut-fill events in the upper Escalante River, southern Utah. In: MacLean, J.S., Biek, R.F., Huntoon, J.E. (Eds.), Geology of Utah’s Far South. Utah Geological Association Pub. 43, Utah, p. 57–76.

Huff, W., and Rittenour, T.M., 2014. Holocene alluvial stratigraphy of Kitchen Corral Wash, southern Utah. In: MacLean, J.S., Biek, R.F., Huntoon, J.E. (Eds.), Geology of Utah’s Far South. Utah Geological Association Pub. 43, Utah, p. 77–96.

Nelson, M.S., Rittenour, T.M., 2014. Middle to late Holocene chronostratigraphy of alluvial fill deposits along Kanab Creek in southern Utah. In: MacLean, J.S., Biek, R.F., Huntoon, J.E. (Eds.), Geology of Utah’s Far South. Utah Geological Association Pub. 43, Utah, p. 97–116.

Wilkins, D.E., and Ford, R.L., 2007. Measuring dune patterns using nearest-neighbor methods: the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Kane County, Utah, USA. Geomorphology, 83, 48-57.

Logistics -

Following FOP tradition, we will keep up-front costs low by leaving participants responsible for transportation, food, campground fees, and printing of a personal hard copy of the guidebook.

The trip will begin at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park campground located 12.6 miles southwest on Hancock Road from its junction with Highway 89 (see map 1 below).

Camping and Lodging
Primitive Camping - There are many primitive campsites along Hancock Road. Look for pull-outs along the north side of Hancock Rd. Please be aware that some pullouts have deeper sands and 4WD may be required.

Ponderosa Grove Campground - NEW FOP HEADQUARTERS – This is a BLM managed campground with 9 campsites. No running water.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Campground - There are 22 sites located in the campground ($20 dollars per single site and $40 for a double site). Reservations for campsites are highly recommended and can be made by calling 1-800-322-3770 or online.

Hotel lodging can be found in Kanab, Utah.

Those arriving on Thursday can gather at the Ponderosa Grove Campground group site #2. This is where the leaders (Kerry Riley and Tammy Rittenour) will be staying.

Map 1: Camping (click to download high resolution)

View the field trip stops and location of the Ponderosa Grove Campground and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in the attached kmz file.

General Itinerary (subject to change):

Friday, 10/14 (see map 2)

Total distance for the day = 40 miles round-trip

AM - Discuss history and constraints of the Coral Pink dune field

Stop 1.1: Star Dune Overlook

Stop 1.2: Overlook to parabolic dunes in western edge of dune field.

Stop 1.3: Lunch at Ponderosa Grove Campground

PM – Explore the arroyo in Kanab Creek and discuss history of arroyo cut-fill dynamics

Stop 1.4: Owl’s Eyes (latitude 37.065687°, longitude -112.537198°) - Located ~1.4 miles on right, if headed south on HWY 89 after passing the weigh station. Go over cattle grate and park on dirt lot.

Stop 1.5: Best Friends Stratigraphic Section (latitude 37.113860°, longitude -112.548073°) - Located ~0.5 miles down Angel Canyon Rd from junction with HWY 89.

Map 2: Friday's Route (click to download high resolution)

Saturday, 10/15 (see map 3)

Total distance for the day = 85 miles round-trip

AM: Explore upper Kanab Creek and discuss Grand Staircase geology

Stop 2.1: Upper Kanab Falls (latitude 37.291173°, longitude -112.492507°)

(30-mile drive from Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park to the falls)

Lunch at Stop 6

PM – Introduce arroyo in Johnson Wash, compare regional arroyo chronologies, discuss distribution of erosion rates in Grand Staircase.

Stop 2.2: Basalt Junction (latitude 37.231783°, longitude -112.364927°)

(10-mile drive from Stop 5 at the falls to Stop 6 at Basalt Junction)

Evening celebration and planning for next FOP at Ponderosa Grove Campground.

Map 3: Saturday's Route (click to download high resolution)

Sunday, 10/16 (see map 4)

Total distance for the day = 70 miles one-way

AM - Discuss aggradation versus paleo-flood deposits in Buckskin Wash.

Stop 3.1: Wire Pass Trailhead (latitude 37.019224°, longitude -112.024835°)

The trip will end around lunch time.

Map 4: Sunday's Route (click to download high resolution)