If, like me, you dream of being a real-life Indiana Jones, grab your fedora and trowel and head to Crow Canyon Archaeological Center just outside Cortez. This research and educational organization gives you hands-on experience—for a day or week—with real archaeologists at actual dig sites. Crow Canyon is one of the only scientific groups currently excavating in the Mesa Verde region.
I loved going into the archaeology lab to see how artifacts are washed, categorized and finally numbered. It’s exacting work—but it seems so important in helping piece together time.
Ken and I also got to visit a current Crow Canyon archaeological site. Archaeologists excavate trenches (2 feet wide by 10 or 15 feet long) and once they’ve recorded their finds, they refill the trench with the dirt they removed.
Crow Canyon offers several experiential programs:
- Day Tours: You’ll visit an excavation site and go behind the scenes at Crow Canyon’s archaeological lab where you’ll see ancient artifacts and visit an ongoing archaeological excavation. Day tours (8:30 to 4:30) are held on Wednesdays and Thursdays from May through September. Lunch is included. Adults: $55; children (ages 10 to 17): $30.
- Adult Archaeology Research Week: Join a professional archaeological team and help uncover the past. You’ll learn to dig for and identify artifacts you find. In the lab, you’ll wash and catalog pottery and stone tools. All meals, lodging and transportation to dig sites included: $1,475 per person.
- Family Archaeology Week: Plan your next family vacation around an Ancestral Pueblo archaeology adventure. Adults: $1,520; children (ages 10 to 17): $1,125.
For dates and information on Crow Canyon, contact 800-422-8975.
—Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor