Cedar Mesa & Bears Ears Utah Archaeology

Explore Cedar Mesa and Bears Ears National Monument by vehicle and short hikes with guest experts Greg Nunn and Lyle Balenquah.

Discover Cedar Mesa and Bears Ears in this unique opportunity to learn from experts!

Learn about the Cedar Mesa and Bears Ears National Monument area and its fascinating history that spans thousands of years. In visiting several well-known sites with an insider’s view, we learn recent research findings and contextual relationships that tie the past to the present.  Our seminar will cover Paleolithic through historic occupations .We see cultural features in the Bluff region such as great houses, great kivas, roads, earthen berms, and shrines.  In typical CFI style, we also learn about geology, plants, wildlife, and current issues,  and well as enjoy stunning autumn colors.

The seminar begins at 2:00 pm on the first day with a private “backroom” tour of Edge of the Cedars Museum with the Curator. (There is an optional early start at noon from the CFI office in Moab, travel with or caravan with the CFI guides.) After the Museum, the group travels to settle in at Recapture Lodge in Bluff, Utah for the next three nights as our base. The Lodge is a cozy locally owned motel with each room having an entrance door to the outdoors.
We take daily vehicle tours and short hikes up to three miles round trip, exploring sites, rock art, and geological features. Locations will include familiar and lesser-known historical and archaeological sites; exact locations are determined by faculty and our BLM permit; we will utilize several new sites not included in previous CFI seminars and routes may vary depending on conditions and group interest.  

Hiking will be on trails as well as up washes, across brush, and sandstone. Physical activity will be moderately challenging, mostly short walks from vehicles up to 2 miles round trip in sandy washes, up cut banks and across sandstone benches.  On a longer hike, participants may wish to go part way and return early with a CFI guide to the vehicles and a comfy lawn chair with our trip library at hand.

The seminar ends back at the Lodge mid-afternoon of the last day. Participants depart from here or return to CFI headquarters in Moab with our guides arriving by 6:00 p.m.

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.

To learn more about the greater Bears Ears National Monument area,  visit Friends of Cedar Mesa, CedarMesaFriends.org; visit their newly opened Bears Ears Education Center, 567 W. Main St., Bluff, UT 84512. Also check out the Heritage Voices podcasts: https://www.archaeologypodcastnetwork.com/heritagevoices

Guest Experts

Greg Nunn  will be with the seminar day 1 and 2. He is a Master Flint Knapper and widely recognized for his understanding of lithic tools and Early and Late Paleo lifeways. Greg spent his youth with his family living on a working cattle ranch located on Wilson Mesa, east of Moab. Greg has participated in archaeological excavations, surveys, lithic analysis and is a consultant in Early and Late Paeleo lithics and environments in North America and abroad. He has spent time in Denmark and Sweden researching the Late Neolithic Danish Dagger phenomenon that occurred about 4,300 years ago and ended in the Early Bronze age. Greg is also recognized as a specialist in North American Clivis lithic tehnology and traditions of the S.W. United States.

Lyle J. Balenquah, member of the Hopi Tribe, will highlight later Ancestral Puebloan cultures. Lyle is a consulting archaeologist, author and guide and is active with Bears Ears protection efforts. Lyle is a member of the Greasewood clan form the Village of Bacavi on Third Mesa, Arizona. He has undergrad and graduate degrees in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University. Lyle has over twenty years experience as an independent consultant and has led educational outings for Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Grand Canyon Field Institute, Friends of Cedar Mesa, Lore of the Land and Archaeology Southwest as well as several archaeology contracting firms, The Hopi Tribe and National Park Service.

Activity Level

Moderate to Active

Up to two miles round trip on uneven trails  – with occasional scrambling – with up to 300 feet of elevation gain per day.


  • Where: Cedar Mesa and the greater Bears Ears National Monument region in Southeastern Utah.
  • Number of Days/Nights: Three nights and three days
  • Time: October 15-18, 2020
  • Group Size: Minimum 5, maximum 8
  • Age Group: Adults and youth 16+
  • Cost per Person: Non-members $990. CFI Members $940.50 - plus $10 BLM Special Area Fee
  • Deposit: $300 (non-refundable) applies to total due
  • Notes:
    • Trip starts at Edge of Cedars Museum in Blanding, UT and ends in Bluff, UT.
    •  Lodge based with day outings by van and short hikes.
    •  Activity level moderate.
    • The trip price includes a $50 donation to our tuition assistance fund for CFI school programs. Thank you!
    • Click here to read our cancellation policy