This will change your vacation plans. Visit your home planet! Geology is a force so huge we don’t see it. Yet evenly spread across the US (at least one in each state) are spots where our planetary behavior is made visible, erupting in either grand spectacle or in tiny gems on the ground. I was briefly a geology major in school, so call me geeky: but what bigger vacation can one imagine that inspecting 101 sites where you can see inside the Earth? A surprising number of US national, state, and county parks are dedicated to geologic power points. Other spots may be roadcuts or river beds. Use this guide to find them and interpret their incredible hidden significance.
Meteor Crater, Arizona
Of the more than 180 impact sites recognized around the world, approximately 25 are in the United States. The recognized godfather of them all, meteor crater is a perfect example of a simple crater — one without a central uplift. It is the most thoroughly investigated and by far the best preserved of the many astroblemes that scar the face of planet Earth.
At Dinosaur State Park, intersecting sets of pockmarking footprints give evidence of a well-traveled freeway.
Cross-section (not drawn to scale) of the Four Corners roadcut. The coal seems (black lines) formed in a swamp environment.
Gilboa Forest, New York
42° 23′ 52″ North, 74° 26′ 50″ West
Devonian Period Fossilization
Only Sandstone casts of stumps and roots remain of this first forest to shade the American landscape.
This Sandstone cast of a Gilboa Forest stump is believed to be the fossilized root remains of a primitive palmlike tree. The basal diameter is 3.5 feet.
The main attractions at Kellyes Island are the first-order, big-boy grooves deeply scoured into the limestone bedrock at Glacial Grooves State Memorial.