For All You Aspiring Archaeologists Out There!
Located outside Cortez, CO, the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center (CCAC) states that it's mission is to "empower present and future generations by making the human past accessible and relevant through archaeological research, experiential education, and American Indian knowledge.
The CCAC had been mentioned in numerous books that I'd read so we thought we'd check it out for ourselves. It's situated amidst beautiful farm fields, with views in all directions. While they accept drop-in visitors from April 1st through October 31st, we chose to take the 1-hour, scheduled introductory tour that's offered every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 10 am, May 25 through September 30.
The docent-led tour starts outside the administrative buildings with information provided as to the CCAC's mission, history, and descriptions of its various programs. From there we walked a short distance to a ramada that provided shade for an outdoor cooking area that had two earth-covered ovens that were built with the guidance of a local Native American tribe. Next on the tour was a stop at a pit-house constructed, again, with the aid of Native American knowledge.
What we were particularly interested in viewing were the labs. In the first room we were shown the "digs" they construct for kids to teach them the proper methods for excavating a site. They also have atlatl contests for the kids (complete with fake turkeys), pottery-making classes, and artifact sorting. In the next room is where they keep the bagged earth they excavate from real digs as well as sorting trays. And in the last room is where they label and prepare the artifacts for further study (sometimes by museums and universities).
Aside from the 1-hour tour, the CCAC offers a full-day tour which includes going to a current excavation site. The full-day tours are led by professional archaeologists and educators. If you're really interested in archaeology, they even offer programs whereby you can participate in a dig and/or in the lab.
For more information visit www.crowcanyon.org
If you're staying in Cortez there are three places I recommend you check out : (1) the Saturday morning Farmer's Market; (2) the lovely Heart and Core yoga studio; and (3) the farm-to-table Farm Bistro.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.