The Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance (www.cparch.org), a Utah-based nonprofit dedicated to protecting cultural sites throughout the Four Corners, is launching a weeklong backcountry trip this summer that includes seldom-visited sites in east-central Utah. We’d like for you to join us.
Planned dates of travel are August 3rd through 10th, departing from Salt Lake City.
Our itinerary includes recently discovered Fremont culture pit houses and granaries at Range Creek, the “world’s longest art gallery” of petroglyphs at Nine Mile Canyon, a visit to an active paleontological field school project near Green River, and a trek through the canyons of the San Rafael Swell. Below are descriptions of each.
When Waldo Wilcox sold his 4,200-acre ranch to the Trust for Public Land in 2001, the archaeological world received a gift that, even today, it’s still unwrapping. The depth and breadth of cultural material at Range Creek is incomparable to other sites in the Southwest, due to the fact that it was privately owned (and therefore guarded vigilantly against looters) for three generations. Much has been written on the thousand-year-old village structures and rock art here, in such publications as National Geographic, Smithsonian and Backpacker magazines. On this tour, we’ll catch a glimpse of what all the fuss over Wilcox’s ranch is about, and why it’s worth protecting for the future.
Nine Mile Canyon
“Jerry Spangler has clearly established himself over many years as the expert on Nine Mile Canyon cultural history. The research here is superb and the writing clear and engaging.” — James Aton, author of John Wesley Powell: His Life and Legacy
Google the term “World’s longest rock art gallery” and you’ll see what we mean: Nine Mile Canyon (actually about 40 miles long) contains some of the most stunning examples of petroglyphs and pictographs in North America. The Fremont culture — related to but separate from the better-known Anasazi — is famous for creating haunting images on walls of sandstone boulders and canyons throughout the area.
CPAA has been working in Nine Mile for years, and has a wealth of expertise on the prehistoric and historic peoples who have inhabited the canyon. This spring, University of Utah Press is publishing CPAA executive director Jerry Spangler’s latest book, Nine Mile Canyon: The Archaeological History of an American Treasure.
San Rafael Swell
“It’s that spectacular a place. A combination of geology, archaeology, and wildlife habitat. I think it would be a National Park anywhere else in the country.” – Mike Matz, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (quoted in Struggle over Utah’s San Rafael Swell, by Jeffrey O. Durrant)
A while back — around 60 million years ago — a mass of sedimentary stone was pushed up from within the Earth to create what’s today known as the San Rafael Swell. In the millenia since, the San Rafael River gradually raked through the rock dome, leaving bizarrely shaped fissures and canyons large enough for some of the world’s largest dinosaurs to meander through, yet apparently cozy enough for ancient Native Americans to call home as well.
CPAA archaeologists will guide you through some of the Swell’s noteworthy sites that include rock art panels and historic homesteads. In addition, Utah State Paleontologist Jim Kirkland and geologist Don DeBlieux have kindly agreed to let us tag along at a nearby field school, where students are excavating raptors and sauropods — a suborder that includes the Brontosaurus.
Jerry Spangler, MA, RPA – Executive Director
Jerry founded CPAA in 2005 and has written extensively on the archaeology of the Colorado Plateau. He is the author of two books: Horned Snakes & Axle Grease: a Roadside Guide to the Archaeology, History and Rock Art of Nine Mile Canyon and a just-released volume on the history of Nine Mile.
Mark Russell Sanders, MA, RPA – Colorado Field Director
Mark has worked for more than a decade as a contract archaeologist, living in various hotels and tents while excavating sites in a dozen US states and Belize. His graduate work at the University of Denver focused on archaeological site protection, a subject on which he frequently lectures.
Jim Kirkland, PhD – Utah State Paleontologist
Don DeBlieux, – State of Utah Geologist
Your tax-deductible donation of $1,200 covers the cost of food, transport (both to/from the Salt Lake City airport and between sites), and a hotel stay in Green River partway through the trip. We can also provide two-person tents, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags upon request, at no extra charge. Payments can be made by credit card or check. We are limiting our group size to ten volunteers, so if you’re interested, get in touch soon.
For More Information
Contact CPAA Colorado Field Director Mark Sanders at (239) 826-6734 or at email@example.com.
The Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Ogden, Utah, EIN# 20-3912013. Tax information is available upon request.