Traveling to explore new landscapes–and returning to favorite ones–will be one of many joys gradually reopening to us after the months of just-stay-at-home guidelines. This winter I’ve been planning future road trips to hike and camp in western US states–I can’t wait to be on the road again! Reading about the geology to be seen along the way is part of the fun.

The fabulous sedimentary rock formations of the desert southwest are among my favorite landscapes, and trips to these regions in Nevada, Arizona, Utah and other states are always on my horizon. A book I especially appreciate perusing is Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau by Ron Blakely and Wayne Ranney (Grand Canyon Association). I’ve mentioned this book in several of my blog posts because it has excellent descriptions and photos of rock formations, fossils, and modern landscapes similar to the ancient ones that existed throughout the vast region of the Colorado Plateau. Perhaps the most impressive parts of this book are maps of the paleogeography, beginning about 1.75 billion years ago. These illustrate the timing and locations of rivers, swamps, seaways, desert dunes, and many other ancient environments revealed today in a tilted sequence of exposed rock that is as much as 18,000 feet thick. The book is truly exceptional.

Recently, a new book about the geology of Oregon has also captured my interest. Titled Oregon Rocks! A guide to 60 amazing geologic localities, this one is written by and illustrated with photos by Marli Miller–the University of Oregon geologist whose excellent blog posts I’ve referred to in previous posts. Her book will be available in April 2021 and will be published as part of a geology series by Mountain Press. Marli has a blog post about this book on her website here: . After scrolling through her post, I’m definitely ready to explore Oregon! I especially want to visit Silver Falls State Park west of the city of Salem, where some 15 waterfalls flow over volcanic rocks in the Columbia River Basalt Group, and trails provide access so that you can actually walk behind some waterfalls!

Waterfall_Silver Falls State Park OR

South Falls at Silver Falls State Park. Notice how the trail goes into the large alcove behind the falls. (Marli Miller)

In my home territory, I regularly reread sections of the fabulous Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region by Doris Sloan, which includes beautiful photos by John Karachewski (University of California Press). After teaching for many years at UC Berkeley, Doris is unmatched in her knowledge of the Bay Area and her considerable talent in explaining it understandably. I have been a fortunate participant in many of her local field trips! The dynamic landscape of the Bay Area is fascinating, and there are an endless number of new corners to explore and favorite places to return to.

I highly recommend checking out these books–and don’t miss the Oregon Rocks! blog post here:

Whether you have a trip ahead, or just plan to sit in a comfortable place at home, books provide a window into our awesome natural world.

There is no frigate like a book — to take us lands away    Emily Dickinson

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My photos from Arches NP (feature), Canyonlands NP, and San Francisco Bay
Photo of South Falls at Silver Falls State Park by Marli Miller.
Blakey, R. and W. Ranney, 2008, Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau. Grand Canyon Association, Arizona.
Sloan, D. with photographs by J. Karachewski, 2006, Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region. California Natural History Guide Series No. 79, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California.