Ready to release your inner “Indiana Jones” and get your hands dirty on a paleontological dig while looking for dinosaur bones? Or would you rather participate in recording and documenting rock art sites? If your tastes lean more towards the artistic side, why not improve your photography skills in one of the most interesting and colorful landscapes on Earth? Intrigued?
The Petrified Forest Field Institute is offering classes on these and other fascinating subjects during its inaugural season, starting this August with NPS Paleontologist Bill Parker’s “Dig Fossils for a Day.” Bill Parker is the co-author of the newly published “Dawn of the Dinosaurs: The Late Triassic in the American Southwest” and works with many world renown universities and institutions on research and paleontological digs in Petrified Forest National Park. Some of the partners include the Smithsonian Institution, Yale University, Baylor University, Rice University and others. He has also published many highly respected papers on the topic.
For those interested in rock art, there is a two-day field class where participants will learn and employ archaeological methods for recording and documenting rock art under the direction of NPS archaeologists. Humans have called Petrified Forest home and used it as a major crossroads for thousands of years leaving rock art and dwellings dotting the landscape. This class will be documenting a previously unrecorded site.
The park has two remarkable photographers offering classes. The first is one that readers of this site will likely recognize, Larry Lindahl. Larry wrote the Sedona Photography section for this site. Larry is also a published author and well known photographer whose images have appeared in many publications. He also recently published an amazing and beautiful book that he both wrote and photographed, “The Ancient Southwest: A Guide to Archaeological Sites.” Read Larry’s bio here.
The second photographer is Andrew V. Kearns. Andrew has become the “de facto” photographer for Petrified Forest National Park. His exquisite images can be seen throughout the park on the wayside exhibits, publications and websites. Visit Andrew’s Flickr page to see many of his images. Some can also been seen on the home page of the Friends of Petrified Forest.
For those interested in geology, there are more treats in store. Christa Sadler (co-author with Bill Parker on “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” above) and Wayne Ranney are both offering classes but in different areas of the park. Once again, readers of this site may recognize these well-known instructors. Christa Sadler (bio) wrote the Grand Canyon Geology pages and Wayne Ranney (bio) wrote the Sedona Geology pages. Put on your hiking shoes and get ready to enjoy some gorgeous country while you learn how these colorful formations and badlands were formed. Nobody makes geology more accessible and fun than Christa and Wayne!
Are you interested in a more challenging day that includes hiking to fascinating places few people ever see? Join Mike Campbell (bio) while learning about the people and ecology of the land that makes up Petrified Forest. Once again, my readers will recognize Mike as being the author of some of the most popular, well-researched articles written on this site. In addition to leading guided wilderness trips through his own company, Canyonology Treks, Mike has also worked for Grand Canyon Whitewater and Arizona River Runners.
Last, but hopefully not least, I will personally lead classes called, “A Day of Discovery: North to South in Petrified Forest.” We’ll start at the north end of the park at the Painted Desert Visitor Center. Subjects will include archaeology, geology, human history (including Route 66), and we’ll be taking two rather short day hikes over the course of the day. The class culminates at the south end of the park at Rainbow Forest Museum. These are full day classes.