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Seeking NorCal geological field trip recs

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I teach science to my dd plus 2 other kids, and we'll be finishing up an earth science unit in December. I'm looking for a good field trip to wrap it up. We will have covered earthquakes, volcanos, weathering and erosion, and natural resources.


So far the most fun looking stuff is 3+ hours away.  I have Lassen on my short list as well as the California Caverns, though I'm not sure I'll be able to logistically pull off a trip that far away. We're just north of SF, so I've also looked into hot springs, but they all seem to be connected to spas. That's so not what I'm looking for.


My kids have been to the petrified forest and thought it was a total yawnfest. That's the danger in geo field trips, I think. You're pretty much done looking after 5 minutes. 


If you have gone on a great geological field trip in NorCal, please shout out.

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Wow, geology field trips a yawn fest? I guess you don't know any of the geologists I do. Geology field trips were always looked forward to.


How about looking through the roadside geology of CA book to get ideas? Then you can string together a bunch of places. One key is to recognize that some places are to look at (petrified forest) and some are to interact with (hiking, climbing on and through rocks, etc).


Pinnacles with a cool hike? Point out some fault evidences along the way?



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I'd have to agree with your kids about the petrified forest. We were at the geysers a few years ago and found it really hokey--even DS, who was pretty young at the time, felt a strong suspicion that the eruptions were timed. It was really anticlimactic. I recall being really underwhelmed as a kid, too. I think the recent fires came pretty close last month, but I'm not sure if that affected visitors or not.


You've probably been to Pt Reyes to see the fault line? I liked that as a kid--it always felt a little creepy but really cool to see the visual effects (like the fractured the fence line). The Pinnacles were interesting too, but I don't remember much about them.

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How about Black Diamond Mines Regional Park? http://www.ebparks.org/parks/black_diamond  We went on a fabulous field trip there two years ago, when my dds were in 4th and 6th grades. We went in the north entrance, and the ranger gave a great talk on the old mining town, talking about how the landscape had changed, showing us the foundations et c, then we went into the mine for a tour.

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The closest one I can think of for you is Mt. Diablo. It has an interesting drive with a few informational stops on the way up to the visitors center at the top. Climbing rocks, too...maybe. It's been awhile since I've been there.


Mercer Caverns was a memorable field trip for me from way back in 5th grade. It's probably 3 hours away from you. You could realistically do a few cavern tours in a day if you do head to the Gold Country. Or a cavern tour and the gold mine tour outside of Jackson. Or tie in a trip to Calaveras Big Trees. It's not geology, but it is way more interesting than the petrified forest!

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We camped at the Pinnacles National Monument a few years ago, and the kids still talk about it.


The Northern Segment of the San Andreas faultline has several places that are worth viewing.


There's an online Geotour that might spark some interest.


And then this site has a plethora of suggestions, sorted by general area: California Rocks!

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