Archaeology & Culture: Uncovering the Mysteries of Colorado’s Pueblo Communities

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Dig into archaeology to help uncover the answers to questions surrounding the historical population of Southwest Colorado.

15 16 17-18 2019 Domestic Outdoors STEM
About the Trip

Space Available – Apply by March 31st!

Dig for clues into resource use, sustainability, and long-term impacts on ancient communities in Colorado.

Thousands of years ago, spectacular great houses were constructed in what is now northwest New Mexico. Between A.D. 800 and 1140, these densely concentrated great houses were part of Chaco Canyon and were the largest buildings to ever exist in the ancestral Pueblo world. The complex Chaco regional system is not well understood, but with your help, researchers hope to find answers to questions surrounding the historical population of Southwest Colorado.

Join archaeologists at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, located in Cortez Colorado, to take part in hands-on fieldwork. You’ll help excavate great houses on a site located nearby on private land. When you’re not busy digging into the past of ancestral Pueblo great houses, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the Four Corners region of the American Southwest, going to restaurants, museums, and sites such as Hovenweep National Monument, the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, and Mesa Verde National Park.

On the day you arrive, the researchers will conduct an orientation and brief you on the work you’ll be doing. Fieldwork will begin on the second day, where you will:

– Excavate ancient households and public architecture: Most days, you’ll arrive at the dig immediately after breakfast and spend much of the day working with hand trowels, brooms, buckets, and screens to remove and identify artifacts and other archaeological finds. Your work may focus on the excavation of homes, middens (trash deposits), and the great houses.

– Survey for future excavation sites: Help with remote sensing surveys that identify likely areas of archaeological significance. Remote sensing tools are used to identify features beneath the ground that may have been overlooked by standard survey techniques.

– Survey for future excavation sites: Excavate a site of the ancient Pueblo II community.

– Lab Analysis: Process artifacts recovered from excavations—pottery, lithics (stone tools), ground stone, and animal bone—which includes washing, sorting, cataloging, and labeling them.

In the evenings, you’ll head back to the field station for dinner and time to relax. Additionally, you may attend programs, including an introduction to research at Crow Canyon, presentation by staff archaeologists, and guest lectures on current research in Southwestern archaeology.

NOTE: Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

This Destination is hosted by Girl Scouts of the USA in collaboration with Earthwatch Institute. The group leaders are Girl Scouts National Volunteers, and the program will be delivered by Earthwatch. Read more about this program on the Earthwatch website.

Where You Go

Cortez, Colorado

What to Know

To participate on this Destination, you should:

  • have an interest in archaeology & historical cultures
  • enjoy being outdoors ALL DAY in all types of weather
  • be able to tolerate temperatures of 85 degrees and higher, and low humidity levels
  • be able to acclimate to high elevation (6,200 feet)
  • be able to get low enough to access the ground for digging
  • be able to life 10-20 pounds of dirt
  • be able to carry personal daily supplies, such as water, lunch, and equipment weighing 10 lbs or less


The Dates

June 30 - July 6, 2019

You must be between 14-18 years old, AND you must have completed your first year of high school, to participate.

What to Bring

A full packing list will be provided upon acceptance. A few items you will need are:

  • lightweight long pants and long-sleeve shirts for field work
  • lightweight hiking boots
  • wide-brimmed hat

The Cost

Program Fee: $1,995

Program fee includes accommodation, meals, and activities. Fee does not include transportation to the Destination; you must organize your own transportation to Durango, Colorado.

Download Application Forms
Destinations Application Worksheet
Contact Information