Join us for explorations and discussions of the natural wonders of the west. Participants will complete coursework through email as well as participate in an excursion to each locale to see the geology, plants, and animals firsthand. You must attend the trip to receive credit for the course. These courses will be useful to anyone teaching natural sciences — most of the California State Earth Science Standards are covered. Those with a general interest in and appreciation for our National Parks and wild places are also welcome!

We will car caravan the length of Owens Valley from Fossil Falls in the south to the Bishop area in the north. The geologic history of the Owens Valley will be discussed while viewing rocks as young as 10,000 years and as old as 500 million years.  On Day 1 we will visit Fossil Falls and see sculpted basalt worn smooth by glacial melt water during the Pleistocene Epoch.  We will stop at Owens Lake and discuss its natural and man-made history.  We’ll visit the scarp of the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake, an estimated 8 magnitude, one of the largest in California recorded history.  Our last stop on Day 1 will be the basalt flows of the Big Pine Volcanic Field, just south of Big Pine.  Day 2 will include a look at some 500-million-year-old rocks – the Poleta Folds and 5,000-year-old trees – the Bristlecone Pines of the White Mountains.  Our last stops will be in Round Valley, just west of Bishop.  We will visit the Buttermilk Boulders and the Pine Creek moraine.

Date: June 17 - 18, 2024

Code: PEDD 9643

Our 2-day excursion will take us to the Owen Gorge, Long Valley Caldera, Convict Lake, Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls. The Owens River has cut a 450 foot canyon through the Bishop Tuff exposing spectacular patterns within the tuff. At our Long Valley Caldera stop, we will see the depression left from a super volcano eruption 760,000 years ago. Convict Lake sits in a glacier-carved bowl and is bounded by 2 towering peaks, Mt. Morrison and Mt. Laurel. We will discuss ice age features and enjoy one of the most beautiful scenes in the Eastern Sierra. The second day will take us to the San Joaquin River drainage. We will visit and discuss the columnar joiting at Devils Postpile and walk along the river to end our day at Rainbow Falls.

Date: June 19 - 20, 2024

Code: PEDD 9638

The Geology and Natural History of the Mammoth Region and the Eastern Sierra NevadaMammoth Lakes Sierra is a beautiful and exciting region of the 400 mile long Sierra Nevada Mountains.  The excitement comes from the earthquakes and volcanic activity of the area.  The Mammoth Lakes area is one of the most likely places for a volcanic eruption in the lower 48.  We will caravan from Mammoth Lakes to Mono Lake making stops at Mammoth Mountains, Inyo Craters, Devil’s Punchbowl, Obsidian Dome and Panum Crater. Our discussions will include glacial features, the Mono Lake Basin ecosystem and the major plant communities of the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

Date: June 21 - 22, 2024

Code: PEDD 9605

Yosemite National Park is a world renowned display of vertical granite, thousand foot waterfalls, meadows, forests and wildlife.  This course will include classroom discussions of the origin, uplift, and sculpting of the Yosemite granite.  The geologic history of the 400 mile long Sierra Nevada mountain range will be discussed along with the many glacial features responsible for the breathtaking Yosemite scenery.  Other discussions topics will include plant and animal adaptations and Native American history.

Date: June 17 - 18, 2024

Code: PEDD 9643

On our first day we will meet in Livingston, Montana and head east toward Big Timber.  Our first stops will include a discussion of the Mesozoic landscape of Montana, including the dinosaur-bearing Hell Creek Formation.  At Big Timber we will head south, drive up Boulder River Canyon making stops on our way to Natural Bridge Falls.  We will return to McLeod and loop back to Livingston along the West Boulder River.

We will again meet in Livingston on Day 2 and head south driving along the Yellowstone River through Paradise Valley.  Our stops will include features of the Yellowstone Outlet Glacier, Petrified trees of the Tom Miner basin, 3-billion-year-old rocks in Yankee Jim Canyon, Devils Slide, and a boulder field deposited by glacial outburst floods.  We will end the day near Gardiner, MT.

Date: July 22-23, 2024

Code: PEDD 9644

On our first day we will meet at the Albright Visitor Center in Mammoth Hot Springs.  We will travel east on the North Loop Road to Tower Junction then east through the Lamar Valley to Cooke City.  Stops will include Undine Falls, Petrified Tree, Glacial Erratics, Soda Butte, Heart Mountain Detachment.  We will spend the night in Cooke City.

On Day 2 we will traverse the Beartooth Plateau from Cooke City to Rock Creek Overlook.  Our stops will include Crazy Creek, Clarks Fork Overlook, Clay Butte, Beartooth Lake, Beartooth Pass, Rock Creek Overlook.

Date: July 24-25, 2024

Code: PEDD 9645

This class will offer the student a look at the eastern part of Yellowstone Country.  We will travel east from Cooke City, down the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River along the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.  This route passes through one of the most scenic areas in Wyoming.  Among the fans of this country was Ernest Hemingway who wrote “Death in the Afternoon” while staying at the L Bar T Ranch on Clarks Fork in the summer of 1930.  The geology here is spectacular.  We will see evidence of the uplift of the Beartooth Plateau and the Heart Mountain Detachment, a landslide the traveled at 500 miles per hour and slid for 50 miles.  We will end the first day in Cody Wyoming with time for dinner and a visit to the Buffalo Bill Cowboy Museum.

Our second day will take us west along the Shoshone River back into Yellowstone Park at the East Entrance Station.  After viewing hoodoos and 2 billion year old rock, we will top Sylvan Pass (8530 feet) and stop at Mary Bay to see evidence of the largest hydrothermal explosion crater in the world.  From Mary Bay we will skirt the north end of Yellowstone Lake and end the day at Fishing Bridge, a small resort within the park.

Date: July 26-27, 2024

Code: PEDD 9616

At 13,770 feet the Grand Teton rises over 7,000 feet above Jackson Hole.  Twelve other peaks of the Teton Range reach over 12,000 feet in elevation.  The Teton Range has moved up along the Teton fault a total of 24,000 feet forming one of the most dramatic ranges in all of the Rockies.  This trip will explore the geologic and glacial history of the Teton Range and Jackson Hole.  We will also discuss the major plant and animal communities.

On line presentations will be followed by a 2 day field trip to Grand Teton National Park.  On the first day stops include Lewis Falls, Signal Mountain, Jenny Lake, Taggart Lake, and Teton Village Aerial Tramway.  On the second day we will travel to the Grand Teton National park Visitor Center at Moose, Blacktail Butte, the Gros Ventre slide and the Snake River Overlook.

Date: July 28-29, 2024

Code: PEDD 9608

Class Requirements

  • View a Power Point presentation
  • Attend a two-day field trip
    • Students are responsible for lodging, food and transportation
    • Field trips begin at 9 a.m. and end between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
    • We car caravan from stop to stop
    • Walks are usually one to three miles round trip
    • Participants should be in reasonably good physical shape
    • Field trip gear list:
      • clothing appropriate for weather
      • lunch, water, paper, pen, camera
  • Submit a field trip report
    • Submit to Instructor Ted Reeves 
    • The report is due one week after the end of the trip
    • Field Trip Report must include:
      • information and photos from each stop
      • further on-line research on major topics
      • report should represent about 8 hours of work
      • the format can be Word, Pages, Power Point, Keynote
    • Vehicles should be in good mechanical condition and arrive with a full tank of gas on the first day

Additional Information

  • Each class is worth 3 semester units.
  • Class tuition is $300.  Non-credit tuition is $50.
  • These courses are designed to meet professional development needs of educators for career and salary advancement and is not applicable to a degree at University of the Pacific.
  • District approval is recommended before enrolling. An official transcript is available from Pacific upon successful completion of coursework.
  • All field trip participants must register for the class. Non-credit tuition is $50.
  • At any activities or events sponsored by this program, the University does not provide insurance coverage for non-registered students. The University does not sponsor, sanction, or cover non-registered students for any purpose.


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