“Mighty Five” national parks field trip

Zion’s National Park is one of the many places you can visit in our GEO 1050 class here at Dixie State University. Annie Sorensen | Sun News Daily

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If you are looking for the chance to explore National Parks surrounding St. George, there’s a class offered at Dixie State University that’s perfect for you. 

This class gives students the chance to spend their spring break exploring all of Utah’s National Parks. They’ve been called the “Mighty Five” in an ad campaign by the Utah State Tourism Bureau. This list includes Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches National Park and Canyonlands. In addition to exploring these parks, the class trip will also stop at multiple monuments and state parks.

In order to participate in the trip, students need to register for Geology 1055, a one-credit lab that counts for a general education lab class. There is a lab fee of $675 to go on the trip. This fee covers transportation, lodging, admissions fees and almost all meals. 

The class is only taught in the spring semester so students can take the trip over spring break and not worry about missing school. If you are interested in this, the next trip will be in the spring semester of 2023. 

“My favorite part was being able to go to so many national parks,” said Makelle Young, a sophomore media studies major from Logan. “Even though I live right next to them, I haven’t been to them very often, so it was nice to revisit the natural beauty that’s so close to us.”

On the trip students will use what they learned in the course, Geology 1050, in order to study the rock formations and layers at each national park.

“Active learning, active life,” said Greg Melton, assistant professor of geology. “That is Dixie’s motto and I can’t think of a better way to fulfill that than to actually be surrounded by the very thing you are studying.”

The bus used to take students is referred to as a ‘mobile classroom’ and students will use the monitors to look at introductory concepts about each park. 

“That means when we get to the park, we can see the concepts applied and enjoy hiking and observing of not just geologic processes, but also plants and animals in their natural environment, while discussing topics such as resource management and sustainability,” said Janice Hayden, assistant professor of the practice in geology. 

This trip hasn’t been stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic and students are still able to get the full experience. Masks will be highly recommended, but not required on the bus. Students will not need to be vaccinated or receive a COVID-19 test before boarding the bus. The only guidelines they will have to follow are ones the parks require. The trip will not be cut shorter and they are not cutting down on the size of the group. There will be 40 students on the March 12-18 trip.

Hayden said during the trip they usually see other universities from further away visiting the national parks who only provide the experience to upper-level geological sciences majors. She said DSU is lucky to be in a place so close to the parks and offer it as a general education class. DSU is also going to offer a bachelor’s degree in geological sciences to students in the fall.