Dr. Keith Watts

Keith at work... Photo by Jan Garrison

Dr. Keith Watts, founder of Earth Tours, leads most of the tours himself, sharing a wealth of knowledge and an enthusiasm that his guests find captivating. Although Keith is a former professor of geology, his interests cover all aspects of natural history, including the ecology of plants, wildlife, fire, and human history. He sings, laughs, takes on the personas of historic characters, and uses innovative approaches to illustrate mountain building, glacial advances, and volcanic bulges. People love his self-deprecating sense of humor. His seemingly endless bag of illustrations will enable you to understand natural history with a minimum of jargon. He makes learning about the spectacular landscapes of the Tetons, Yellowstone, and Colorado Plateau an adventure by keeping it simple and fun!

Dr. Keith Watts has become known as a guide’s guide to the geology and natural history of the Tetons, Yellowstone, and Colorado Plateau – giving workshops to other guides to help them become better guides. He was born and raised in Idaho and Utah as the son of a second-generation forester (his grandfather really put the hat on Smoky the Bear), who taught him much about the Intermountain West’s plant and animal communities. His insatiable desire to understand these spectacular landscapes led him to receive a BS in Geology from Utah State University. Continuing his education at University of California, Santa Cruz, his Ph.D. studies took him to study rocks in a desert wilderness – the Oman Mountains in the Middle East. Other study areas include Madagascar, Great Barrier Reef of Australia and Brooks Range of Alaska.

While a Professor of Geology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Keith met his wife, Lisa (also once a geologist), who was floating down a seldom-run wilderness river in the Brooks Range of northeastern Alaska, where he was doing geological field studies. Shortly after they were married, he quit his tenured position to join her in the lands they both love most, northwestern Wyoming and southern Utah.

He and Lisa have built (literally and figuratively) a new home for themselves in Boulder, Utah, where Lisa runs the Burr Trail Outpost (link to www.burrtrailoutpost.com), a coffee bar and local art gallery that is also the storefront for Earth Tours. During the summer months (mid June to mid September), Keith returns to Wyoming to guide private tours of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and fossil fishing trips near Fossil Butte National Monument. The rest of the year, he lives in Boulder where he continues to explore its deserts and mountains finding new places to share with his guests, many of whom return year after year to enjoy new hiking experiences.

Dr. Watts was featured as one of a panel of six experts on Grand Teton National Park in National Geographic Traveler magazine and was interviewed extensively in Travel Audio’s – Grand Teton National Park. His tours were highlighted in an article on Grand Teton National Park in the Kansas City Star and Yellowstone National Park by the San Diego Herald,. His guiding in southern Utah has been featured in the New York Times. Keith has also guided photographers for National Geographic, The Washington Post and Sunset Magazine. Dr. Watts has led educational field trips for the Teton Science School, Elderhostel, University of Idaho, Off-the-Beaten-Path, Backroads, the Murie Center, and Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners.