John Wesley Powell

John Wesley Powell, a remarkable American explorer, geologist, and ethnologist, was born on March 24, 1834, in Mount Morris, New York. His expeditions through the uncharted territories of the American West not only added to scientific knowledge but also provided invaluable insights into the land’s geological and cultural diversity. Powell’s legacy as a pioneer of exploration and his tireless efforts in promoting conservation measures have left an indelible mark on American history.

Powell served as the second Director of the United States Geological Survey, a post he held from 1881 to 1894. This photograph dates from early in his term of office.
Powell served as the second Director of the United States Geological Survey, a post he held from 1881 to 1894. This photograph dates from early in his term of office.

Early Life and Education

Powell grew up in rural New York, where his love for nature and the outdoors was nurtured from an early age. Although he lost his right arm in a childhood accident, Powell’s determination and thirst for adventure were undeterred. He developed a keen interest in natural sciences and geography and pursued higher education at Illinois College and later at Oberlin College, where he focused on geology.

Grand Canyon Expeditions

Powell’s most famous and daring expedition was his 1869 journey down the Colorado River, known as the Powell Geographic Expedition. With a team of nine men, Powell set out to explore the largely uncharted canyons and rapids of the Colorado River and gather valuable scientific data. The expedition faced numerous hardships, including treacherous rapids, scarce food supplies, and hostile encounters with Native American tribes. Miraculously, Powell and his crew successfully navigated the treacherous river and completed the journey, providing unprecedented knowledge of the Grand Canyon and its geological formations.

First camp of the John Wesley Powell expedition, in the willows, Green River, Wyoming, 1871. - E. 0. Beaman - War Department. Office of the Chief of Engineers. Powell Survey. (1869 - ca. 1874)
First camp of the John Wesley Powell expedition, in the willows, Green River, Wyoming, 1871. – E. 0. Beaman – War Department. Office of the Chief of Engineers. Powell Survey. (1869 – ca. 1874)

Powell’s subsequent expeditions further solidified his reputation as a fearless explorer. He embarked on multiple journeys across the American West, including explorations of the Green and Colorado Rivers, the Rocky Mountains, and the Uinta Mountains. Powell’s meticulous record-keeping and scientific observations greatly expanded the understanding of the region’s geology, hydrology, and ethnography.

Scientific Contributions

Powell’s expeditions were not merely adventurous endeavors but also scientific ventures aimed at advancing knowledge in various fields. He published numerous papers and reports detailing his findings, including “Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and its Tributaries” and “Canons of the Colorado.” These works significantly contributed to the geological understanding of the American West, shaping subsequent research and studies in the region.

Additionally, Powell’s expertise in ethnology led him to conduct extensive research on Native American tribes. He documented their cultures, languages, and customs, recognizing the importance of preserving their heritage. His ethnographic studies formed a crucial foundation for future anthropological research in the United States.

Conservation Advocacy

John Wesley Powell was not only a scientist and explorer but also an early advocate for conservation. Recognizing the fragile nature of the American West’s ecosystems, he became a vocal proponent of sustainable land use practices and preservation efforts. Powell believed that the arid region’s limited water resources necessitated careful management and planning.

In 1879, Powell presented his influential “Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States” to Congress. This groundbreaking report emphasized the need for responsible irrigation and land development strategies, urging policymakers to consider the long-term consequences of uncontrolled resource exploitation. Powell’s report laid the groundwork for the eventual establishment of the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation, both crucial agencies in land and water management.

Legacy and Impact

John Wesley Powell’s contributions to exploration, science, and conservation continue to resonate today. His expeditions not only unveiled the wonders of the American West but also inspired future generations of explorers and scientists. Powell’s emphasis on interdisciplinary research and his understanding of the intricate relationships between humans and their environment remain


Subway Canyon – Left Fork of North Creek

Subway Slot Canyon is a unique geological formation located in the Zion National Park in southwestern Utah, USA. It is considered one of the most popular hiking trails in the park, known for its challenging terrain and breathtaking views. The canyon gets its name from its tubular shape, which resembles the underground trains or subway tunnels.

The Subway Slot Canyon located in Zion National Park, Utah.  Photograph by James L Rathbun
The Subway Slot Canyon located in Zion National Park, Utah. Photograph by James L Rathbun


The Subway Slot Canyon was formed millions of years ago by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone, a red-colored rock formation that is found in the southwestern United States. The slot canyon was created by the flow of water, which gradually wore away the sandstone, forming a narrow, winding passage through the rock. The canyon was first discovered by explorers in the 1930s, but it was not until the 1970s that it became a popular destination for hikers.


The Subway Slot Canyon is a part of the Zion Wilderness, which covers an area of approximately 124,406 acres. The canyon is about 9 miles long and ranges in width from 5 to 15 feet. The canyon walls are made up of Navajo Sandstone, which is known for its unique patterns and colors. The sandstone is layered, with different colors and textures, giving the canyon walls a unique and stunning appearance. The canyon also features a series of pools and waterfalls, which add to its beauty.

Flora and Fauna

The Subway Slot Canyon is home to a variety of flora and fauna. The area around the canyon is covered with sagebrush, juniper, and pinyon trees. The canyon itself is home to a variety of ferns, mosses, and other plant species. The canyon is also home to a variety of animals, including bighorn sheep, mule deer, and mountain lions. Hikers may also see a variety of birds, including hawks, eagles, and owls.

Hiking Experience

The Subway Slot Canyon is considered one of the most challenging hiking trails in the Zion National Park. The trail is rated as moderate to strenuous and requires a permit to hike. Hikers must be prepared for a difficult and sometimes dangerous hike, as the trail includes steep drops, narrow passageways, and deep pools of water. Hikers must also be prepared for changing weather conditions, as the canyon can be very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter.

The Subway Slot Canyon is a unique geological formation that offers hikers a challenging and rewarding experience. The canyon’s unique colors, textures, and shapes make it a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Zion National Park. However, hikers must be prepared for the challenges that come with hiking in the canyon, including difficult terrain and changing weather conditions. With proper preparation and precautions, hikers can safely explore the beauty of the Subway Slot Canyon and experience one of the most stunning geological formations in the world.

Temple of Sinawava

Located in Zion National Park in southwestern Utah, the Temple of Sinawava is a stunning geological formation that attracts visitors from all around the world. This natural temple is the result of millions of years of geological processes, and it has been a sacred site for the indigenous people of the area for centuries. In this travel and geological report, we will explore the history, geology, and attractions of the Temple of Sinawava, as well as provide practical information for visitors.

Temple of Sinawava, Zion National Park, Utah, Medium Format Photograph: James L Rathbun
Temple of Sinawava, Zion National Park, Utah, Medium Format Photograph: James L Rathbun


The Temple of Sinawava is named after the Paiute Indian god, Sinawava, who is believed to have lived in the area. For centuries, the Paiute and other indigenous peoples have considered the area to be sacred, and they have performed various rituals and ceremonies there. The Paiute called the area “Mukuntuweap,” which means “straight canyon,” and it was later renamed Zion National Park by the Mormons who settled in the area.


The Temple of Sinawava is located at the end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, and it is one of the most popular destinations in the park. The temple is a natural amphitheater that was formed by the Virgin River, which has been carving through the sandstone for millions of years. The river has eroded the sandstone in such a way that it has created a stunning array of geological features, including towering cliffs, deep canyons, and narrow slot canyons.

The Temple of Sinawava is a particularly unique geological formation because it is located at the end of Zion Canyon, where the canyon narrows dramatically. The canyon walls rise up to over 2,000 feet in height, and they are composed of various layers of sandstone that were deposited over millions of years. The layers of sandstone are different colors, ranging from red to white, and they provide a stunning contrast against the blue sky.


The Temple of Sinawava offers visitors a variety of attractions, including hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography. The most popular activity at the temple is hiking the Riverside Walk, which is a 2.2-mile round-trip hike that follows the Virgin River to the entrance of the temple. Along the way, hikers will be treated to stunning views of the canyon walls, as well as a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mule deer, and numerous bird species.

Once visitors reach the entrance of the temple, they can continue hiking up the river, which leads to the beginning of the Narrows. The Narrows is a narrow slot canyon that is formed by the Virgin River, and it is one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park. The Narrows can be hiked in two ways, either by hiking up the river or by hiking down the river. Hiking up the river requires a permit and special equipment, while hiking down the river is open to all visitors.

Another popular attraction at the Temple of Sinawava is photography. The temple is a popular destination for photographers, both amateur and professional, who come to capture the stunning beauty of the canyon walls and the river. The best time to photograph the temple is during the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky and the light is soft and warm.

Practical Information

The Temple of Sinawava is located in Zion National Park, which is open year-round. The park is located in southwestern Utah, and it can be accessed via State Route 9, which runs through the park. There are a variety of lodging options in the park, including campgrounds, lodges, and hotels, as well as numerous restaurants and gift shops.

Visitors to the Temple of Sinawava should come prepared with appropriate clothing and gear, as the weather can be unpredictable.

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock is an iconic natural feature located in Arches National Park, Utah, USA. This geological formation consists of a large boulder balanced precariously on top of a much smaller pedestal rock. The rock formation is an example of a natural geological process known as erosion and has become a popular destination for tourists from around the world. In this report, we will explore the geological history of Balanced Rock, its significance, and how it has become an important part of the natural landscape of Arches National Park.

Early Evening At Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, Medium Format Photograph bu James L Rathbun
Early Evening At Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, Medium Format Photograph bu James L Rathbun

Geological History

Balanced Rock is situated in an area known as the Entrada Sandstone Formation. This formation was created around 180 million years ago, during the Jurassic Period, when the region was a vast desert. Over time, layers of sediment accumulated on the desert floor, which eventually became compressed and turned into rock. The Entrada Sandstone Formation is composed of a soft, red sandstone, which is prone to erosion.

Erosion is a natural geological process that occurs when wind, water, and other natural forces wear away at the surface of the Earth. In the case of Balanced Rock, the pedestal rock is made of a harder, more erosion-resistant sandstone than the boulder on top. As the softer sandstone eroded away, the harder rock was left behind, forming a pedestal. Over time, the boulder on top was also eroded, creating the balanced formation that we see today.


Balanced Rock has become an iconic symbol of Arches National Park and a popular destination for tourists from around the world. The formation is an excellent example of the natural geological processes that shape our planet and provides a unique window into the history of the Earth.

Balanced Rock is also significant from a cultural perspective. For centuries, the land that is now Arches National Park was home to indigenous people, including the Ute and Paiute tribes. These tribes believed that the rock formations in the park held spiritual significance and would often conduct ceremonies and rituals in the area.

In addition to its cultural significance, Balanced Rock is also an important habitat for a variety of plants and animals. The area around the formation is home to a variety of desert plants, including cacti and sagebrush, as well as a variety of small mammals and birds.

Conservation Efforts

Arches National Park was established in 1971 to protect the unique geological and cultural features of the area, including Balanced Rock. The park is managed by the National Park Service and is dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the region for future generations.

Conservation efforts in the park are focused on maintaining the delicate balance between human use and environmental preservation. Visitors to the park are encouraged to stay on designated trails and follow the “Leave No Trace” principles to minimize their impact on the natural environment.

In addition to visitor education, the National Park Service also conducts ongoing research to monitor the health of the park’s ecosystems. This research helps to identify potential threats to the park’s natural resources and develop strategies to mitigate those threats.


Balanced Rock is a natural wonder that has captured the imagination of people from around the world. This iconic formation is a testament to the power of natural geological processes and provides a unique window into the history of the Earth. Its cultural and ecological significance make it an important part of Arches National Park, and conservation efforts are underway to ensure that this unique feature remains protected for future generations to enjoy.

Christopher Houston Carson

Christopher Houston Carson (December 24, 1809 – May 23, 1868), also known as “Kit” Carson, was a nineteenth century American Frontiersman, Army Officer and Politician and the namesake of Carson City, Nevada. During his lifetime, he achieved notoriety for his exploits as an Indian Fighter, Fur Tapper, Mountain man

Christopher 'Kit' Carson (1809-1868), American explorer - Photograph byMathew Brady or Levin C. Handy - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cwpbh.00514.
Christopher ‘Kit’ Carson (1809-1868), American explorer – Photograph by Mathew Brady or Levin C. Handy – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division.

Carson was born on December 24, 1809 in Madison County, Kentucky to Lindsey Carson and Rebecca Robinson Carson. He is a cousin to Danial Boone on his mothers’ side. The family moved to Missouri two years later. Survival being the priority, Carson never learned to read or write. At the age of 16, he signed up with a large caravan of merchants headed west towards Santa Fe.


In 1854, a change encounter with the explorer John C. Frémont, made Carson an active participant in the clash of empires that eventually extended the boundaries of the continental United States to its present. The two men met aboard a steamboat on the Missouri River. He served as a guide to for Fremont on three expeditions for a sum of $100 per month. These expeditions found the Oregon Trail and opened to west for the settlers who followed.

First expedition, 1842

In 1842, during the first expedition, Carson guided Frémont across the Oregon Trail to South Pass, Wyoming. The purpose of this expedition was to map and describe the Oregon Trail as far as South Pass. It is during this trip, that the two men produced a guidebook, maps, and other paraphernalia would be printed for westward-bound migrants and settlers. After the completion of the five-month expedition, Frémont wrote his government reports, which made Carson’s name known across the United States, and spurred a migration of settlers westward to Oregon via the Oregon Trail.

Second expedition, 1843

In 1843, Carson agreed to join Frémont’s again during his second expedition into the west. Carson guided Frémont across part of the Oregon Trail to the Columbia River in Oregon. The purpose of the expedition was to map and describe the Oregon Trail from South Pass, Wyoming, to the Columbia River. They also ventrured towards the Great Salt Lake in Utah, using a rubber raft to navigate the waters.

On the way to California, the party is held up during bad weather in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Fortunately, Carson’s good judgement and his skills as a guide and they found some American settlers who fed them. The expedition turned towards California. This ventures is illegal, at the time, and dangerous because California was Mexican territory.

During the expedition, the expedition arrive in the Mojave Desert. His party met a Mexican man and boy, who informed Carson that Native Americans had ambushed their party. The Native Americans killed the men, and the women are staked to the ground, sexually mutilated, and killed. The murderers then stole the Mexicans’ 30 horses. Carson and a mountain man friend, Alexis Godey, went after the murderers. It took the two men, two days to find the culprits. The pair rushed into their camp and killed and scalped two of the murderers. The horses were recovered and returned to the Mexican man and boy. This act brought Carson even greater reputation and confirmed his status as a western hero in the eyes of the American people.

The Mexican government ordered Frémont to leave. Frémont returned to Washington, DC and filed his reports. He but did not mention the California trip. The government liked his reports but ignored his illegal trip into Mexico. Frémont was made a captain. The newspapers nicknamed Fremont, “The Pathfinder.”

Third expedition, 1845

In 1845, Carson lead Frémont on a third expedition. Leaving Westport Landing, Missouri, they crossed the Rockies, passed the Great Salt Lake, and down the Humboldt River to the Sierra Nevada of California and Oregon. The third expedition is more political in nature. Frémont may have been working under secret government orders. US President Polk wanted Alta California, which includes parts of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and parts of Wyoming.

Once in California, Frémont set out to rouse American settlers into a patriotic fervor. The Mexican General Jose Castro at Monterey ordered him to leave. On Gavilan Mountain, Frémont erected a makeshift fort and raised the American Flag in defiance to these orders. While in Oregon, while camped near Klamath Lake, a messenger from Washington, DC, caught up with Fremont and made it clear that Polk wanted California.

On 30 March 1846, while traveling north along the Sacramento Valley, Fremont’s expedition met a group of Americans Settlers. The settlers claimed that a band of Native Americans was planning to attack them. Frémont’s party set about searching for Native Americans. On April 5 1846, Frémont’s party spotted a Wintu village and launched a vicious attack, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 120 to 300 men, women, and children and the displacement of many more. This act of savagery became known as the Sacramento River massacre. Carson, later stated that “It was a perfect butchery.


Kit Carson accepted a commission as a colonel in the U.S. Army in 1861, Carson fought against Native American and Confederate forces in several actions.

His fame was then at its height,… and I was very anxious to see a man who had achieved such feats of daring among the wild animals of the Rocky Mountains, and still wilder Indians of the plains…. I cannot express my surprise at beholding such a small, stoop-shouldered man, with reddish hair, freckled face, soft blue eyes, and nothing to indicate extraordinary courage or daring. He spoke but little and answered questions in monosyllables.

Northern Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman