Talking Rocks 2019 Spring Tour, May 5-12. Fall tour, October 27 – November 3, 2019

For the latest information go to the Talking Rocks website



Seven days exploring the geology and scenery of southwest Utah and environs. Sleeping in tents or under the stars. Studying geology and paleontology with Gerry Bryant of the Colorado Plateau Institute and Stephen Rowland of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Eating incredibly delicious food prepared by Robert Johnston. Mulling the great questions of beauty and justice, purpose and theology, humanity and truth, in conversations facilitated by John McLarty.

May 5-12, 2019

Cost: $800

For reservations or info contact

John McLarty


Talking Rocks 2018, First Tour

We had two tours in 2018. The itineraries were most the same. Extras for the second tour included Bryce Canyon, Kodachrome Basin, and the Overlook Trail. Below are photos from the first tour.


Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Track Site. One of the highlights of the trip. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dinosaur tracks here. Gerry Bryant, on his elbow in the center of the photo, is explaining the relationship of the tracks to the structure of the underlying sandstone layers.


In the above photo, you can see two tracks. Track sizes at this location range from more than 12 inches long to less than two inches long. Quite a variety of animals. Every time I’ve gone, I’ve noticed some new feature that poses new questions or offers new insight.


We examine sandstone–the remains of ancient dunes–and living dunes being moved and sculpted by today’s wind and rain. Curiously, the dunes in this picture are comprised of sand eroded from sandstone which was the fossilized remains of ancient dunes. Gerry is on his knees begging us to understand.  🙂


We went earlier this year than usual and the weather was colder than normal. We had snow on the vehicles when we woke up. We were glad for the shelter over the kitchen table. The food was good even if the weather wasn’t.


This was our welcome to Grand Canyon. Fortunately, an hour later the skies cleared and we had sun for the weekend. But all our cold weather clothes were justified. With me are Robert Johnston, the chef on our first tour, and his wife Kathy. I’m going to start charging extra for the tours that feature Robert’s cooking. He’s incredible!

2018 - Geo Tour (438) Coral Pink Sand Dunes

This rock is central to the geological story of the Navajo Sandstone. It is not sandstone. It is a carbonate, a rock formed by evaporation in shallow ponds and lakes that occupied the hollows or troughs between dunes in the ancient environment. These ponds lasted long enough for large amounts of carbonate to precipitate. In places these carbonate deposits are more than two feet thick, indicating that the dunes were fairly stable for long periods of time. In the neighborhood of these ponds the dunes are littered with animal tracks and signs of vegetation, indicating that these ponds were, in fact, vital elements in the ancient living ecosystem. (In contrast, if Noah’s Flood had created this formation, we would expect to find a jumbled mess of dead things not this kind of coherent life assemblage.)


John Anholm (in the water) and Sheen Bergeron navigating a tricky part of Buckskin Gulch. Half our group braved the frigid water and shoe-sucking muck to travel about five miles into Buckskin Gulch. Last year, when conditions were warmer and dryer, the bravest in our group did a 21 mile through-hike of the Gulch.




The members of the first tour of 2018 (Except Gerry who had other duties for the last half of the week) left to right, back row: David Grellman, Robert Johnston, Jim Hayward. Middle row: John Anholm, John McLarty, Karin McLarty, Ken Schander, Bryan Harris, Brianna Payne. Front row: Tom Anderson, Debbie Lilly, Kevin Lilly, Kathy Johnston, Sheen Bergeron.

Talking Rocks Tours 2018

Our first tour will be April 15-22, 2018. The second will be April 29-May 6.

Highlights: Snow Canyon petroglyphs, Bryce Canyon, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Trackway, Buckskin Gulch, and Grand Canyon. Both tours will include instruction by Gerry Bryant, Ph. D., director of the Colorado Plateau Institute. Dr. Bryant is a geologist whose specialty is the Navajo Sandstone.

The first tour will emphasize hiking, featuring two hikes of 20+ miles. (With shorter options available.) The second tour will use the same campground itinerary, but the featured hiking will be shorter, five or six miles max with more time for campfire and conversation in the evenings. Cost for either tour is $600.  This covers everything, entrance fees, food, professional fee for our geologist, and local transportation. A reservation requires a deposit of $300. A check can be mailed to 43408 236th Ave SE, Enumclaw, WA  98022 or you can pay through Google Wallet. Up through the end of March, the deposit is fully refundable. Cancellation after the end of March, the refund will be $150.

Our adventure begins in St. George, UT, and ends in Las Vegas. For detailed itineraries click on the respective links to the right. The Feet and Miles Tour is the the first one featuring long hikes. The Sunshine and Campfire tour is the second tour which is less intense physically.

Any questions, feel free to contact me through email or by phone. or 253-350-1211.


Ash Meadows, Nevada

Itinerary, Miles and Feet Tour

April 15 – 22, 2018

The focus of this tour is hiking. Yes, we’ll talk geology. We’ll notice geology. We’ll visit dinosaur tracks. And we’ll hike. Lots of hiking.

Bryce Canyon. Buckskin Gulch (a slot canyon). Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Trackway. Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Grand Canyon.

To the bottom of Grand Canyon.

Here’s the itinerary.

Sunday. Arrive in St. George, Utah.
By air: Fly to Las Vegas and take a shuttle to St. George.

Sunday afternoon. Explore Snow Canyon State Park on your own. Lava caves, sandstone exposures, sandy washes.

Sunday evening. Camp in Snow Canyon. Lecture: Geology 101 and local geology.

Monday morning. Hike to Snow Canyon petroglyphs. Led by Gerry Bryant. Geology: Erosion, lava flows, topographic inversion, lag deposits, desert varnish, diagenic color changes.

Monday afternoon. Contact between the Kayenta and Navajo formations. Drive to Bryce Canyon.

Monday night. Camp at Bryce Canyon. (No showers.)

Tuesday morning. Dawn on the rim. After breakfast: Intro to local geology. Midday: Hike eight miles.

Tuesday afternoon. Drive to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.

Tuesday night. Camp at Coral Pink.

Wednesday morning. Dawn at the dunes.

Wednesday midday: Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Trackway.

Local exploring of dunes, creek beds, and peaks.

Wednesday night. Camp at Coral Pink.

Thursday. Buckskin Gulch. 20 mile hike.

Thursday night. Camp at Coral Pink.

Friday morning. Drive to Grand Canyon.

Friday afternoon. Hike to Plateau Point. Eleven miles round trip. 3000 feet of elevation gain.

Sabbath. Hike to the bottom of Grand Canyon. Down South Kaibab, up Bright Angel. Fifteen miles, 5000 feet of elevation gain.

Sunday morning. Drive to Las Vegas airport.

Cost: $600. Includes local transportation, food, entrance and camping fees, geology professor.

Contact info:  John McLarty. 253-350-1211.



Talking Rocks Tours

We study rocks, of course.

On some of our tours we run trails, ten to twenty miles a day.

On some of our tours we take a meditative approach. Slow, leisurely departures. Desultory walks savoring the glory of places and the company of people.

We are even working on a tour that allows people to stay in motels and “do the outdoors” only during the day.

On all of our tours, there is rich conversation and laughter. Under the stars, over lunch, while washing dishes, around the campfire.


Talking Rocks Geology Tours 2017

Talking Rocks Northwest 2017, Late Summer or Early Fall

I’m looking to put together a road trip in late summer or early fall. If you think you might be interested, let me know. I might do just three days instead of a full week like we do in the spring.

Talking Rocks Southwest (Wild Tour). May 28- June 4, 2017

Seven days of intense, pleasurable engagement with the rocks in the neighborhood of Zion National Park under the tutelage of Gerry Bryant, Ph.D. . Dinosaur tracks. Modern, living sand dunes. Ancient fossil dunes. Research sites. Magnificent vistas. Sleep in tents or under the stars. Share meals in camp and conversation around campfires. $600 includes everything–food, lodging, entrance fees, professional guide, local transportation.

Talking Rocks Southwest (Mystic Tour). Date still in flux.

Five days of leisurely engagement with the desert in the neighborhood of Death Valley or Grand Canyon–depending on weather. Hiking. Photography. Geology. Morning meditation. Shared meals in camp and conversation under the stars. Sleep in tents or under the sky. $300 (tentative) includes everything–food, lodging, entrance fees, local transportation.

Talking Rocks Northwest. Dates still open. Sometime in  July or August, 2017

Five days of intense engagement with the rocks in Oregon under the tutelage of a geology professor from the University of Oregon. Crater Lake. Lava. Volcanoes. Ice age lakes. Basin and range geology. John Day Fossil Beds. Miles of sweeping, magnificent vistas. Shared meals in camp and conversation around the campfire. Sleep under the stars. Price (still to be determined) includes everything–food, lodging, entrance fees, local transportation, professional guide.

For more info contact John McLarty, 253-350-1211


Dinosaur Museum

Journey Places

One of the places we will visit is the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, or more simply the dinosaur museum.

When Gerry and Debbie first told me about it, I thought, how good could a local museum be? I preferred to visit field sites. But since they were my hosts, I went. Wow. It is a superlative exhibit of dinosaur tracks. These are not isolated tracks, but long track ways. The only thing better would be to dig up some dinosaur fossils in my own yard.

The museum’s web site:  Dinosaur Track Museum