Eastern Book Cliffs Deep History

Historian John Weisheit and archaeologist Michael Wolfe will guide you through both ancient and recent sites.

Your Guides

John Weisheit

John Weisheit is the Conservation Director with Living Rivers based in Moab, Utah. He is an author, accomplished guide, and educator with a long history of advocacy for rivers in the Southwest. John has served on the boards of  Colorado Plateau River Guides, Headwaters Institute and Canyonlands Field Institute among others. He has authored numerous articles on regional geology and history and with two co-authors wrote a book called Cataract Canyon: A Human and Environmental History of the Rivers in Canyonlands. Frequently quoted by the press, he currently monitors watershed and energy issues such as proposed tar sands project for the Book Cliffs.

Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe’s interest in archaeology and the natural wonders of the Southwest has evolved over more than 40 years of living on the Colorado Plateau. Archaeology became an obsession during numerous trips as a river guide  for Wild Rivers Expeditions on the San Juan River, beginning in 1986. In that capacity, he guided seminars for Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and other seminar programs. At the same time, he began working for the private CRM companies performing field work in the Four Corners area. This inspired him to study and receive an anthropology degree at Fort Lewis College in 1995. This opened doors to working for various federal land managing agencies including the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. Interspersed with federal service he has participated in archaeological forays to Mayan sites along the Usumacinta River in Guatemala and Southern Mexico, and rock art trips to the painted caves of Baja California. His special area of interests includes prehistoric rock art, early high altitude formative agricultural settlement, and historical settlement and river running history in southeast Utah. Michael goes by “Red.”

Karla VanderZanden

Karla VanderZanden helped co-found CFI in 1984 and serves as current Executive Director. She holds a masters degree in Natural Resources from Utah State University. She first came to the area to work as a ranger with the BLM at Westwater Ranger Station and has connected with the Cisco desert and Bookcliffs through private exploration and research.

The Itinerary

This is a comprehensive introduction to the geologic history, and  prehistoric, and historic occupation and current issues facing the Eastern Book Cliffs and Cisco desert region. We will see Archaic Barrier Canyon style, Fremont, and Ute rock art plus the historic inscription of Antoine Robidoux and Denis Julien. Located just north of I-70 and close to the Colorado-Utah state line, it is located at the convergence of three canyons. This area was an important place for prehistoric and historic people to travel through and leave paintings and engravings on the cliff faces.

Participate in discussions on rock art conservation and management for panels affected by natural causes. Threats from water, dust, salts and vandalism will be addressed. Lifeways and economies over time will be discussed including native, and more recent ranching, railroad and energy exploration.


This trip will include three nights of vehicle assisted camping.

  • Where: Eastern Book Cliffs – Cottonwood, Hay Canyon/Westwater Creek
  • Number of Days/Nights: 4 days 3 nights
  • Group Size: 4 min, 8 max
  • Age Group: Adults and youth 16+
  • Cost per Person: $725 - includes outfitting and meals
  • Deposit: $300 nonrefundable, applies to total fee
  • Notes:
    • 2017 trip date TBA
    • Rare opportunity to explore the lesser visited area of the Eastern Bookcliffs near the Colorado border and to see incredible native rock art spanning 8000 years, historic trapper inscriptions, learn about ranching families, cattle and sheep “wars”, about geologic formations and current and proposed energy development in this region. Meet at CFI office in Moab at 8:30 day 1 and return here mid afternoon of last day.
    • With guest expert historian John Wieshiet and CFI’s co-founder, Director Karla VanderZanden. Archaeologist Micheal Wolfe will join us for one day of the trip.
    • Includes tour transport, three nights camping with truck support, delicious meals by CFI.
    • Click here to read our cancellation policy.