Can You Dig It?

Text and Photos by Dorothea S. Michelman

If you’re looking for a getaway that offers an education and a treasure hunt, you’ll dig Colorado’s Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. Here, visitors rediscover Indian culture through artifacts, lectures and tours. For the past 100 years, the area has been an important focal point for archeological research.

The center is located in beautiful Canyon County of the Mesa Verde region, which once was home to the prehistoric Anasazi Indians. The Anasazi lived there for almost 1,000 years and their abandoned village sites full of buried pottery and household tools await rediscovery.

Each year the center welcomes about 4,000 students of all ages. They stay for a day or a week to gain deeper insight and understanding of the Anasazi Indians, who lived in the area from the sixth to the 13th century.

Depending on the length of their stay, participants work under the leadership of an archeologist on the dig of the Goodman Point Ruins Group unit at Hovenweep National Monument. It was a Pueblo Indian village inhabited in late A.D. 1200 and preserved by the National Park Service since 1889. Students work in the laboratory analyzing rediscovered artifacts, spending time in the library, working on the database, attending lectures and enjoying tours to the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mesa Verde National Park.

Students learn about the work program and tools of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, including remote sensors used when searching for potentially fragile artifacts.

For visitors who have only a day to spare, there is a “Touch the Past” day program, which is open to individuals, groups and families with children age 10 and older. The program, which runs from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m., takes place on Wednesdays and Thursdays from June through August.

Participants tour the Goodman Point site, where they observe archaeologists and students digging. They visit the curation room with its many intriguing artifacts and learn about the tools used to facilitate their rediscovery. Cost: adults, $50, children, $25 (ages 10-17).

Special Notes: Children must be 10 years or older. You need to bring a water bottle, wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes and bring sunscreen and sunglasses. Lunch is included in the cost of the program.

Among the other programs offered are Fall Labs, September 24–30, 2006, for Center novices with no prior experience and for alumni of other Crow Canyon research programs. Cost for Novices: $995, Alumni: $900, Deposit: $300. Session II: October 1–7, 2006, is designed for alumni only. The Center also offers Middle School Archaeology Programs, High School Archaeological Programs, High School Field School, School Group Programs, and a Course for Educators.

For details on space availability and cost, please call toll-free:1-800-422-8975 or 1-970-565-8975, ext. 130. Web site:

Archaeological fieldwork requires a 1/4-mile hike to the site, lifting buckets of dirt, kneeling on the ground and working at an elevation of 6,700 feet. You work at your own pace but should be in good physical condition.

Among the many examples of other programs offered this year are:

* Plains to Pueblos—New Mexico’s Cultural Crossroads, September 25–October 1, 2006; Cost: $1.995, Deposit: $400, and $30 membership fee
* Backcountry Archaeology Hiking Utah’s Slickhorn Canyon, October 7–13, 2006; Cost: $1,495, Deposit: $400, and $30 membership fee
* 100 Years of Archaeology in the Mesa Verde Region, October 1—7, 2006; Cost: $1,795, Deposit: $600, and $30 membership fee

Cost for individual program includes tuition, lodging, meals, in-program transportation. As specified in itinerary. Prices for off-campus programs are per person, double occupancy. Prices for on-campus programs include meals.

Among the foreign destinations offered by Crow Canyon in 2006 are:

* The Dreaming of Australia Aboriginal Rock Art & Culture, Cost: $6.995, Deposit: $1.000
* Mesoamerican Crossroads Exploring Coastal Chiapas & Western Guatemala, November 4–13, 2006; Cost: $4,195, Deposit: $600

Among domestic trips for 2007 are:

* Back Country Archaeology: Hiking Southeast Utah’s Comb Ridge, May 6–12, 2007; Tuition: $1,895
* Rooms Carved in Rock: Archaeology of Bandelier snd Pajarito Plateau, June 10–16, 2007; Tuition: $1,895

Among the international trips planned for 2007 are:

* Egypt’s Nile Delta and Desert Oases, March 18–30, 2007; Tuition: $4,995
* Prehistory to Present: French Caves, Castles and Canvases, June 9—19, 2007; Tuition: $8,595
* The Soul of Ireland: Cultural Landscape of the Western Seaboard, September 18–30, 2007; Tuition: $6,995

If you go

Getting there: You will be picked up at the Cortez Archaeological Montezuma County Airport by one of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center staff.

Where to stay: Navajo-style hogans serve as guest accommodations on campus. You need to bring your own bedding and towels.

When to go: Most programs run from May to October. Several others are scheduled during February, March and November.

For information: For the excellent catalog, contact Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, 23390 Road K, Cortez, CO 81321, or call toll-free at 1-800-422-8975, Ext. 146, or fax them at 1-970-0565-4859. Visit them online at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.