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Stop # 1 Bonneville Shoreline Signpost

When you have reached the signpost, orient yourself to face towards the city of Provo directly to the west. You are looking into Utah Valley. In the distance Utah Lake is visible, and beyond the lake is another small range of mountains, the Lake Mountains. You are standing on the western most portion of the Rocky mountains, and before you lies the Basin and Range province. For those hikers who are unfamiliar with the geology of this area, the name of the province mimics the landscape. From this point, all the way to the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the California-Nevada border, lie a series of basins bordered by ranges of mountains. The cause of this unique landscape stems from deep below the surface you stand upon.

During Phase III of Rock Canyon’s history, extensional forces created the Basin and Range province. As these extensional forces pull on the rock in the Earth’s crust, the crust responds by breaking. These places, where movement occurs along breaks in the earth’s crust, are called faults. In the case of the Basin and Range, these faults are called normal faults, where the valley subsides, while the mountain block is pushed up. Mining operations are sometimes located along fault zones, where fluid movement often concentrates precious metals.

Before continuing on the tour, take a look up the canyon towards the east to see where the path will take us. The tour will be taking a brief side trip up the Bonneville Shoreline Pathway for a fantastic view and a little information on the recent geology in the area. From the signpost, the pathway continues to the northeast for 150 feet until it reaches the creek. The creek is dry the majority of the year, and is generally quite easily crossed when there is a small amount of water in the bed. However, during the months of May and June, this pathway can be unpassable. If you are unable to cross, return to the main trail and continue up the canyon to Stop # 4. For those that can cross, take note of your surroundings. Careful observations of your surroundings will definitely enhance your understanding and enjoyment of Rock Canyon

Flood Monitoring


As you cross the creek you will see a cement structure with the letters ASCE BYU. These letters stand for the American Society of Civil Engineers at Brigham Young University. This structure was completed in 1996, and is used to monitor flow amounts. This data will be used to monitor possible flood hazards from Rock Canyon Creek. The danger from flooding from this generally harmless creek remains today. Take note of the size of the rocks which have been carried by the creek in the not so distant past. Some of these rocks are as large as cars. The majority of the rocks are grey limestone. Take a glimpse at the geologic map, note that limestone is found much further up the canyon. These boulders that are found at the mouth of the canyon must have been carried by a large flood at some time in the past. Also take note of the shape of the boulders. These boulders have been rounded by the erosional forces created by being carried down the creek. Geologists use such observations to decipher ancient depositional environments of unknown formations.

Continue up the pathway which bends towards the west until it makes a 90 degree turn towards the north. From this point you can see a large portion of the valley, stop, take a breather, and enjoy the view.