Save the Date: April 5-7, 2024

John Wesley Powell River History Museum | Green River, Utah

Free Festival! All are Welcome!

Join us for a weekend of free field trips with Utah’s finest geologists, paleontologists, and archaeological conservationists. Meet the organizations that preserve and protect our public lands, and shop a bounty of rocks and minerals at our pop-up market outside the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. See the schedule for details.

We value inclusion and access for all participants and are pleased to provide reasonable accommodations for this event. We will do our best to accommodate!




*This happened at the 2023 festival*

John Wesley Powell River History Museum

New Fossil Discoveries from the Upper Cretaceous of the Book Cliffs, Utah

Joshua Lively has served as Curator of Paleontology at the Prehistoric Museum in Price, UT since 2020. He earned a BS in geology from Auburn University, a masters from the University of Utah, and his PhD from The University of Texas at Austin. He is interested in terrestrial and marine ecosystems of the Cretaceous, especially the last 30 million years of the Age of Dinosaurs. Though he has mainly focused on freshwater turtles and giant marine lizards called mosasaurs, his research scope has greatly expanded since moving back to Utah. Josh is originally from Alabama but has been doing paleontological fieldwork in Utah for over 12 years.


How to sign up for a field trip:

  • Attendees can sign up for trips before and during the Friday evening lecture and also on Saturday and Sunday at the festival information booth outside the John Wesley Powell River History Museum.
  • The festival booth will open at 5pm before the Friday evening lecture, and again at 9am on both Saturday and Sunday.
  • Field trip sign-ups are first come, first serve and must be done in-person during the festival. There’s no way to sign up in advance.
  • All field trips are half-day to full-day trips. Group size for each trip is approximately 25 people. If there is a trip you are particularly excited about, we recommend coming to the Friday evening lecture to sign up early.
  • Field trip leaders will meet their group in the museum parking lot. Prepare to caravan to field trip sites in your own vehicle. Many trips involve driving on dirt roads. Descriptions of road conditions can be found in each trip description. Pack plenty of water and a sack lunch, and fill your gas tank ahead of time. Wear comfortable clothing and bring sun protection.
  • Send all field trip questions to Staff at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum will not be able to answer any questions. The Museum does not organize the festival, they are just our gracious hosts!


*This happened at the 2023 festival*

Fossil Point is an extraordinary fossil locality where boulders yield large dinosaur bones from the Jurassic Era, dating as far back as 145 million years ago. A short drive from Green River, this site is home to large dinosaur vertebrae, leg bones, and fantastic views of the La Sals and Henry Mountains.

Roads: Less than 30 minutes on well graded dirt roads from Green River. The last mile has a rocky stretch. Passenger cars can make it to Fossil Point successfully if they drive with care.

Leader: Greg McDonald is a recently retired regional paleontologist for the Bureau of Land Management. Based out of the Utah State Office of the BLM, he worked with the field offices in Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Prior to transferring to the BLM he worked for the National Park Service as the Senior Curator of Natural History in the Washington Museum Management Program, as Paleontology Program Coordinator in the Geologic Resources Division and as the paleontologist at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument.


*This happened at the 2023 festival*

Paleozoic marine fossils. Cretaceous dinosaur tracks. The discovery of Utahraptor. A fossil swamp. Join State Paleontologist Jim Kirkland on a tour of Hwy 191 between Crescent Junction and Moab. Travel through three hundred million years of Earth’s history with stops at a Paradox Formation outcrop, the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite, the future site of Utahraptor State Park, and the Copper Ridge Dinosaur Tracksite, with rockhounding opportunities along the way.

Roads: A 90-mile round trip, mostly pavement, with a few short stretches on dirt roads. Any car can make the trip.

Leader: Dr. Jim Kirkland has been the Utah State Paleontologist with the Utah Geological Survey over 20 years. He issues permits for paleontological research on Utah state lands, keeps tabs on paleontological research and issues across the state, and promotes Utah’s paleontological resources for the public good. An expert on the Mesozoic, he has spent more than forty-five years excavating fossils across the southwestern US and Mexico.


*This happened at the 2023 festival*

The San Rafael Swell is a showcase of Colorado Plateau geology. This large, anticlinal feature formed due to Laramide mountain-building compression during the Cretaceous through early Tertiary (65 to 45 million years ago). Uplift and erosion of the Swell have created a colorful array of sedimentary rocks about 6,900 feet thick, ranging in age from Permian (280 million years ago) through the Cretaceous, exposed in spectacular cliffs along cuestas, mesas, and deep canyons. These rocks were deposited in a wide range of environments including dune, floodplain, river, braided stream, delta, swamp, tidal flat, and shallow marine, now long gone.

Roads: This long loop will traverse some dirt roads with a few rough spots.  A moderately high clearance vehicle is required, but not 4- or all-wheel drive.

Leaders: Paul Anderson has been a geologic consultant for nearly 40 years and a past resident of Emery, Utah, where he and his wife Mary Ann are active in the local community. Paul is an expert on the Cretaceous geology of Emery County including its coal and gas resources as well as many other areas of the state. Tom Chidsey is an emeritus geologist from the Utah Geological Survey where he worked as a petroleum researcher for 31 years and 13 years prior in the oil and gas industry of Utah and Texas. Both Paul and Tom have served as presidents of the Utah Geological Association and have been awarded the prestigious Lehi Hintze Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Geology of Utah.


*This happened at the 2023 festival*

Spend the day in the extraordinary canyons and ravines of the San Rafael Swell. We’ll drive a 122 mile loop, stopping at numerous rock art panels including the Silent Sentinel, the Daisy Chain, and the world famous Buckhorn Panel.

Roads: High clearance recommended for patches of rough road along the way.

Leader: Geoff Smith is a past president and current active member of Castle Valley Archaeological Society. Geoff is a 5th generation Emery County resident and currently serves as an advanced EMT for Emery County.


*This happened at the 2023 festival*

Journey 152 million years into the past, with this tour of the Mygatt-Moore Quarry, a gigantic dinosaur bonebed that has produced thousands of fossils over more than 30 years. This tour will highlight the history of the site, new discoveries, and even take you on a short walk along the Trail Through Time to discover the fossils of a Camarasaurus still embedded in the hard sandstones of an ancient river channel.

Roads: The quarry is an hour and 15 minute drive from the museum, mostly on I-70 between Green River, UT, and Fruita, CO. Any car can make the trip.

Leader: Dr. Julia McHugh is the Curator of Paleontology of the Museums of Western Colorado, and an instructor in the geosciences program at Colorado Mesa University. Dr. McHugh is an expert in Morrison Formation paleontology, taphonomy, and amphibian evolution. Her recent collaborative research has included discoveries on tooth replacement mechanisms in sauropods like Apatosaurus, cannibalism in the theropod Allosaurus, and evidence for decay and decomposition ecologies at the Mygatt-Moore Quarry. The recent special exhibition at Dinosaur Journey in Fruita (part of the Museums of Western Colorado), Dinosaurs Macabre, is based on these recent research projects. She has worked on excavations in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Oklahoma. She has a B.A. in Geology from Hanover College, a M.S. in Geosciences from Idaho State University, and a Ph.D. in Geoscience from The University of Iowa.


*This happened at the 2023 festival*

The rock art at Sego Canyon is among the most interesting and unique in all of the south west. The panels include art from Fremont, Ute and Barrier Canyon cultures and span thousands of years.

Roads: About 30 miles from Green River. Mostly paved highway and a short segment of dirt road. Any car can make the journey.

Leader: Geoff Smith is a past president and current active member of Castle Valley Archaeological Society. Geoff is a 5th generation Emery County resident and currently serves as an advanced EMT for Emery County.


*This happened at the 2023 festival*

Crystal Geyser is located along the Green River about 3 miles south of town. Unlike the more familiar geysers in Yellowstone, Crystal Geyser is human-made and flows cold water, which explodes with carbon dioxide (CO2) like a shaken bottle of soda pop. It was created in 1936 when an oil exploration well encountered a high-pressure system containing trapped CO2 instead of oil. This same system was responsible for ancient Ice Age (Pleistocene – 2.6 million to 12,000 years ago) deposits of tufa in the area first identified by Major John Wesley Powell during his 1869 journey along this stretch of the river on the way to the Grand Canyon. Modern terraces of tufa are forming today from calcium carbonate-bearing water flowing from the geyser. Major eruptions of Crystal Geyser attain heights of 40 to 80 feet, which last from 3 to 49 minutes, and occur anywhere from 17 to 27 hours apart. A few brief stops will describe the geology along the route.

Roads: The route traverses mostly dirt roads, but well graded.

Leaders: Paul Anderson has been a geologic consultant for nearly 40 years and a past resident of Emery, Utah, where he and his wife Mary Ann are active in the local community. Paul is an expert on the Cretaceous geology of Emery County including its coal and gas resources as well as many other areas of the state. Tom Chidsey is an emeritus geologist from the Utah Geological Survey where he worked as a petroleum researcher for 31 years and 13 years prior in the oil and gas industry of Utah and Texas. Both Paul and Tom have served as presidents of the Utah Geological Association and have been awarded the prestigious Lehi Hintze Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Geology of Utah.


*This happened at the 2023 festival*

We all enjoy floating on a river or enjoying the crashing of waves on a beach. Such features have existed throughout Earth’s history. How do geologists recognize them in the rock record? Here are two one-day field trips to explore beautiful exposures of ancient sedimentary environments, such as rivers, beaches, and sand dunes and explore the processes that formed them millions of years ago. 

Saturday Trip to “The Notch:” This is a narrow slot canyon located just south of I-70 about 20 miles west of the town of Green River. It opens to reveal the back and forth change between ancient rivers (like the modern South Platte) and sand dunes (similar to the modern Sahara Desert). We will see both from afar and up close the manner in which sediment accumulated and was then preserved such that we can identify these features today. 

Sunday Trip to Gentile Wash: This is a small canyon located just north of the town of Helper on the west side of U.S. Highway 6. In this canyon, we will view the manner in which ancient deltas formed, such as the modern Mississippi and Nile deltas. Additionally, we can observe an ancient record of changing sea level and how that is manifest in the rock record.

Roads: The drive to “The Notch” is partly over loose sand. 2WD vehicles can make the drive, unless a recent windstorm has occurred. 

Gentile Wash has a parking area that is located along a curve in Highway 6 north of Helper. Caution needs to be taken reentering the highway following the trip. The trail up Gentile Wash is generally in good condition; however, a recent flash flood can make one short segment a little challenging to pass. 

Leaders: William W. Little has a Ph.D. in sedimentology from the University of Colorado and taught as a Professor of Geology for nearly 30 years at various institutions before retiring in 2021 after seventeen years at BYU-Idaho. He also worked as a geologist for the Missouri Geological Survey and now owns and operates W.W. Little Geological Consulting. David A. Little has an M.S. degree in geology from BYU. He did a graduate internship with ConocoPhillips, then because of his love for field work decided to become an independent contractor with W.W. Little Geological Consulting. David’s background is primarily with ancient sedimentary systems.


*This happened at the 2023 festival*

Join Solar System Ambassador Cris White on a journey through the cosmos! View planets, nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters through a telescope. View the diamond, sapphire, and ruby colored stars while learning about stellar formation. This field trip is depends on having clear night skies.

Roads: Any car can make the journey to the site at Hatt’s Ranch, a roughly 20 minute drive on paved roads from Green River. Trip will caravan from the John Wesley Powell Museum.

Leader: Cris White is a professional naturalist of 20 years and a Dark Sky Naturalist of 18 years. Her passion for the natural world both above and below shines through. She is a NASA Solar System Ambassador of 4 years volunteering with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


*This happened at the 2023 festival*

The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry at Jurassic National Monument is one of the world’s most impressive collections of dinosaur bones and fossils from the Jurassic Morrison Formation. Over 12,000 bones from at least 70 different prehistoric critters have been excavated here. Fossils from the quarry have been reassembled and displayed in museums throughout the world. 

Roads: The quarry is a 90 minute drive from Green River, located within the San Rafael Swell. Any car can make the drive to the quarry, which is about equal parts pavement and well-graded dirt roads. 

Leader: Casey Dooms is a Park Ranger at Jurassic National Monument working for the Bureau of Land Management, and he oversees the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry. He has 17 years of paleontological experience, mostly in Emery and Carbon counties.


*This happened at the 2023 festival*

A mysterious red pictograph (painted) panel accompanied by petroglyphs (pecked images) lies within Black Dragon Wash in the San Rafael Swell. Within a fenced area visitors may view several elongated human and animal like pictograph images attributed to the ancient Barrier Canyon culture. Stylistically different Fremont petroglyphs are located adjacent to the Barrier Canyon pictographs. In the past someone chalked the outlines of the pictograph images, a practice now know to irreparably damage fragile rock art resources. The person chalking the images combined several figures into what appears as a Dragon-like image. This “dragon” gives the canyon its name. Visitors to the site enjoy a short hike to the panel up through the wash and into the San Rafael reef. Nearby canyons and the wash itself provide additional hiking and photography opportunities. 

Roads: Mostly paved road driving, with a short distance on dirt roads. The road to the panel is sandy in spots and requires a vehicle with some clearance. 

Leaders: Diana and Steve Acerson have been active in the preservation and protection of cultural sites with the Utah Rock Art Research Association (URARA) for the last 12 years. Diana is a conservationist and artist, and Steven has been interested in rock art sites since he was raised in Green River, after his father moved the family there to help his grandfather mining uranium. Many decades of exploring the region have given them a love of the landscape and the peoples who once lived here. Diana and Steve have been active in many projects with URARA, land managers, and private landowners that have resulted in the preservation of important rock art sites. They are passionate about building public awareness to preserve these important and irreplaceable cultural resources.

Self-Guided Tours

Green River is surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery in Utah. Here are some of our favorite places for you and your travel mates to explore near Green River – all within an hour’s drive! Remember to gas up and bring plenty of provisions with you when traveling into wilderness areas.

Swasey’s Beach

Enjoy spectacular canyon views at Swasey’s Beach just north of Green River. The white sand beach spans a long bend in the river and is shaded by cottonwood trees. Shallow water gives children plenty of opportunity to frolic in the river, and bighorn sheep frequent the water’s edge.

Learn More

Black Dragon

The San Rafael Reef is cut through with deep, sinuous canyons adorned with ancient rock art panels. Within the Reef lies the deep Black Dragon Canyon, named for the flying dragon pictograph located on its wall.

Learn More

Rockhounding: Pigeon Blood Agate

Explore the Morrison Formation south of I-70 for beautiful agates tumbling out of the sedimentary layers laid down 156 to 147 million years ago. The most famous agate in this area is the famed Pigeon Blood Agate: a clear to white agate with streaks and drops of brilliant red within. The Morrison Formation has been the most fertile source of dinosaur fossils in North America. It’s likely you could see some bones while out there.

Pop-up Market

Vendors and artists from near and far will be selling mineral specimens, jewelry, polished stones, books, and much more at the Pop-up Market on Saturday from 9am-4pm. There will also be educational booths and food vendors.

Vendor applications are now closed, please apply next year and come enjoy this year’s festival as a visitor!

Lodging & Directions


CNY – Canyonlands Field Airport – Moab, UT (34 mi)
GJT – Grand Junction Regional Airport, CO (102 mi)


There are no car rentals in Green River.


Salt Lake Express and Greyhound


Amtrak Green River station (GRI) – California Zephyr line


River Terrace Inn


Swasey’s Beach, Goblin Valley State Park, and Green River State Park

Thank You 2023 Sponsors!

Emery County Commissioner Jordan Leonard


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America’s Best Value Inn / First Choice Inn at the Swell