Mountains usually elicit thoughts of hiking, biking, skiing or hunting.
But recreation is just a small part of why the Rocky Mountains are so important, said John Spezia, who will lead a geology tour of the Yampa Valley and Rabbit Ears Pass on Sunday.
Without mountains, there would be no snow for skiing, no irrigation for ranching and definitely no cities on the Front Range, which depend on mountain water, he said.
"They define where we live, our lifestyle and our economy," said Spezia, who teaches geology and oceanography at Colorado Mountain College.
During the tour, hosted by Yampatika from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Spezia will do a lot more than talk about rocks; he'll connect geology and events that happened millions of years ago to elements of daily life.
"(Geology) is the way people get in touch with the way they live," he said.
Among the stops, for example, will be historic buildings in downtown Steamboat Springs, where participants will see how early residents used river rock from the Yampa River, sandstone from the Emerald Mountain quarry and other local resources to build the town.
The tour, which will consist of driving and small walks, also will stop along the Yampa River for discussions about the aquifer which keeps the river flowing during the driest months and years and is replenished with runoff and heavy rains.
Spezia also will explain how the huge floodplain endowed the Yampa Valley with plentiful gravel.
Although the time humans have been on earth is very small compared with geologic time, the rate at which humans have consumed geologic resources is huge, Spezia said.
Overall, by understanding the connection between geology and necessities, such as water, power and building materials, tour participants hopefully will understand how their daily actions affect that process, he said.
Spezia also will lead a hiking tour of Hahn's Peak from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 9.
Sunday's tour is $15. For more information or to register for the tour or hike, call 871-9151.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org