Cedar Mesa / Comb Ridge Utah Archaeology

Explore Cedar Mesa by van and short hikes with guest faculty Winston Hurst and Sally Cole.


Discover Cedar Mesa and Comb Ridge in this unique opportunity to learn from experts!

Join guest archaeologists, Winston Hurst and Sally J. Cole, and learn about the Cedar Mesa and Comb Ridge area and its fascinating history that spans thousands of years. Explore the natural beauty of the landscape and side canyons, and learn about geology, desert ecology, and more during this three-day and three-night seminar.

On the first evening, Winston will host us at his home for a welcome and orientation (and light dessert by CFI!). He will lead the first full day of field outings. Sally will lead the second and third full days of our seminar.  Throughout the trip, CFI Executive Director Karla VanderZanden will serve as hostess and trip leader with an additional CFI naturalist-guide. From our cozy base at Recapture Lodge in Bluff, you will enjoy daily vehicle tours and short hikes up to four miles round trip, exploring prehistoric and historic sites, rock art and geological features. We will visit some famous sites but with “expert” eyes and interpretation and explore some lesser known features. Hiking will be on trails as well as up washes, across brush, and sandstone. Physical activity will be moderate with some longer hikes and rougher terrain. Locations will include familiar and lesser known historical and archaeological sites in Butler and Comb Washes, Cedar Mesa side canyons, a spectacular drive along the Comb itself, and walking a portion of Posey’s Trail. In true CFI naturalist style, guides will provide interpretation of geography, observed plants and their native uses, and note anything else of interest! On the longer hike day, participants may wish to go part way and return early with a CFI guide to our vehicle and a comfy lawn chair with our trip library at hand.

Our trip group is kept small, with a minimum of 6 and maximum of 8 participants.

Trip fee includes lodging (double occupancy) and meals beginning with breakfast on day one through lunch the last day, plus permit fees, and transportation during the program. If you wish to reserve a single room, please do so in advance with a $60 per night single supplement. A part of your fee helps to underwrite our educational school programs.

Our Expert Guides

Archaeologist, Winston Hurst. Photo courtesy of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

Archaeologist Winston Hurst is a San Juan County native and professional archaeologist and activist for archaeological preservation. He has been engaged in archaeological research and interpretation in the Colorado Plateau since the early 1970’s. He served as the Field Director of the Comb Ridge Heritage Initiative Project, a multi-year cooperative archaeological project by the BLM and the University of Colorado. Winston has led educational field seminars for Crow Canyon, White Mesa Institute, and others and is often cited in articles about the region.

To learn more about Cedar Mesa issues and the new Bears Ears National Monument, please visit the Friends of Cedar Mesa website.

“Winston Hurst was most capable and informative. I really appreciated his insights (both academic and personal) as well as his willingness to answer the littlest questions and engage in discussion. I learned a lot and was able to see the ancient world through new lenses: I have greater appreciation and new point of view.” – Pam Hackley, Moab, UT Participant, 2016

Archaeologist Sally J. Cole hiking at Navajo Mountain


Sally J. Cole has an M.A. in anthropology (archaeology emphasis) and is a consulting archaeologist working on the Colorado Plateau. She is the author of three books including Katsina Iconography in Homol’ovi Rock Art and two editions of Legacy on Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and Four Corners Region and numerous reports, articles, and papers. Over the past 25 years, she conducted research at major archaeological areas in Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. Her current research focuses on Basketmaker II iconography in rock art and material culture and architectural murals of the Pueblo II-Pueblo III era.

Activity Level


Up to three miles on uneven trails – with occasional scrambling – with up to 750 feet of elevation gain per day.

  • by ACTIVE Network
  • Where: Cedar Mesa and Comb Ridge areas in Southeastern Utah.
  • When: October 19, 2017 through October 22, 2017
  • Number of Days/Nights: 3 Nights 3 Days
  • Time: Plan to arrive in Bluff by 5PM for a light picnic dinner and a CFI evening session at 7PM. Our seminar ends afternoon of the last day in Bluff.
  • Group Size: Minimum 6, maximum 8
  • Age Group: Adults and Youth 16+
  • Deadline for Signup: 1 week prior
  • Cost per Person: $750 plus $10 BLM Special Area Fees
  • Deposit: $300 (non-refundable)
  • Notes: