How Utah got that way

  Geology is a hard thing to miss in southern Utah. Unless you travel through the state blindfolded, you have probably wondered about the evolution of the region's dramatic cliffs, spires and canyons. Maybe that's why there are so many guidebooks that aim to decipher the area's layered landscape.


Unlike most popular guidebooks, The Geology of the Parks, Monuments, and Wildlands of Southern Utah doesn't just focus on famous landmarks. Author Robert Fillmore encourages exploration by devoting the first half of the book to a description of Utah's general geologic setting, giving readers the background they need to understand the geology along any canyon hike or plateau bike ride.


Less adventurous folks will appreciate the book's second section, which points out features along popular roads in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.


Fillmore, a professor at Western State College in Colorado, knows how to talk about rocks: His engaging explanations range from simple sedimentary geology to complex plate tectonics.


Fillmore's book left me with more questions than I had when I started, and, luckily, that's what he intended. "My immediate goal," he writes in the book's introduction, "was to understand the evolution of this fantastic Western landscape. Thus began a journey without end, the kind I like." The Geology of the Parks, Monuments, and Wildlands of Southern Utah, by Robert Fillmore, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Utah; paperback: $19.95. 268 pages.