Eastern Book Cliffs Deep History

A rare opportunity to explore the rich archeology and history of the Book Cliffs!

Take the road less travelled. This is a unique chance for those who don’t want to go where everybody else is going. Explore a landscape north east of Moab towards the Colorado/Utah state line featuring a vast record of human and natural history. Trip planning and leadership is by CFI Founder Karla VanderZanden with guest scholars, Dr. Steven R. Simms and Mr. Tim Smith. Seminar focus is on Fremont Culture, the North Branch of the Old Spanish Trail, plus mining and ranching histories, various values and issues.

An educational getaway

Come ready to learn and explore this lesser visited region with special access through private lands.   Highlights include pictographs and petroglyphs from Archaic, Fremont Culture, Ute, and early 1800’s explorers on the North Branch of the Old Spanish Trail. Ephemeral spring wildflower blooms, and spotting Pronghorn Antelope are possibilities.

The trip is fully outfitted with 4wdrive transportation and truck supported base camp in a remote canyon. CFI guides are responsible for cooking hearty meals throughout the weekend, driving the rugged roads to historic sites. A portion of trip fees help to underwrite CFI’s critical outdoor education and science programming for schools and youth groups.

Location:
Eastern Book Cliffs
Dates:
May 13, 2022 through May 15, 2022
Drop Off/Pick Up:
Green River, UT
Duration:
3 days and 2 nights
Group Size:
Minimum: 6, Maximum: 9
Cost:
$980, Member Price: $931
Accommodations:
Tent Base Camping
Challenge:
Level-

This is how we rate the challenges you might face on a CFI trip.


Level 1 - Easy

  • Low level of physical activity, minimal movement required
  • 0 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking or walking 0-2 miles per day

Level 2 - Moderate

  • Medium level of physical activity, some movement required
  • 1-4 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking up to 4 miles per day
  • Flatwater or mild whitewater rapids

Level 3 - Active

  • Medium or high level of physical activity
  • 1-5 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking up to 5 miles per day
  • Class I - III whitewater rapids

Level 4 - Challenging

  • High level of physical activity
  • 1-6 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking 5 or more miles per day
  • Class IV whitewater rapids
CFI's Essential Eligibility Criteria outlines specific challenges that you may face on CFI trips. Please consult the EEC for information on responsibilities of participants.
Notes:
  • A $300 deposit is required to reserve your spot.
  • Fee includes a $50 donation to youth programs.

See other trips in these categories:

All participants on our adult seminars and on our private trips are required to be fully vaccinated.

Trip Narrative

Day 1

Our trip meets at the John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River, Utah at 9am. After a short orientation and overview of our seminar, we will load into CFI’s 4wd vehicles and head east, exploring side canyons that cut through this dramatic escarpment. As we move further from civilization, we will start to dive into the area’s unique geology and history. As we drive into the wilderness, we will get ready to visit cultural sites that highlight human activity dating back thousands of years. Our guides will lead us to beautiful Barrier Canyon style rock art as well as later Puebloan, Fremont and Ute styles. We will see evidence of small scale agriculture used to supplement hunting in this game-rich region. We will see the effects of European settlers who came to this region relatively recently once the railroad came across the desert.

Day 2

Thanks to private land owner permission, we have the chance to see a site studied by legendary and pioneering female archaeologist Hannah Marie Wormington. Wormington redefined the Puebloans north of the Colorado River and offered perspectives that were ahead of her time. This site is both on private land, and difficult to find, making this unique opportunity a highlight of the trip. We will share Wormington’s perspectives that to this day are often left out of the story of the Ancestral Puebloan peoples. We will also take a day trip to canyons that feature the Old Trapper Trail, established in the early 1800’s to see more petroglyphs and pictographs from various cultures.

Day 3

On day 3, we travel forward in time to learn about hardscrabble homesteaders who tried to make the desert bloom and famous range wars, including the story of Charlie Glass, a charismatic and capable Black cowboy who worked this area in the early 1900’s. We will take a special look at the Cisco desert and will keep our eyes peeled for herds of Pronghorn Antelope and spring blooms of Cisco Woody Asters and Sego Lilies. We will loop around and return to Green River mid afternoon to say our goodbyes. You’ll drive away inspired and more connected to this remote and special corner of the Colorado Plateau.

Guest Faculty

Steve Simms Guest FacultyDr. Steven R. Simms is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Utah State University, Logan, Utah where he taught starting in 1988. He has done archaeological fieldwork across the United States and in the Middle East for 45 years. His areas of specialty are the prehistory of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau, human behavioral ecology, and archaeological method and theory, with special emphasis on Fremont Indian cultures.  Simms has authored over 100 scientific publications, technical reports, and monographs. His books include Ancient Peoples of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau (2008), and Traces of Fremont: Society and Rock Art in Ancient Utah (2010), and articles recently published in Archaeology Southwest.

Steve has directed over 60 archaeological research projects, most in the context of Cultural Resource Management law and regulations. He served as President of the Great Basin Anthropological Association and editor of the journal Utah Archaeology, and is a Fellow of the Utah Professional Archaeological Council. Steve is a captivating teacher and has led educational trips for many organizations including Canyonlands Field Institute and Crow Canyon Archaeology Center. Steve currently lives in Story, Wyoming near the Bighorn Mountains.

this is tim smith guest faculty headshot

Tim Smith recently retired from Utah State Parks as the Southeast Region Manager, following a long career throughout the Colorado Plateau. Previous experience for Utah included managing Coral Pink Sand Dunes and Antelope Island; he held seasonal positions with the National Park Service in Canyonlands, Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon. Tim lives in Moab and is an avid weekend explorer. He will share stories of more recent mining, cowboy, and agricultural operations in the Book Cliffs region.

Need to Know

  • CFI staff are trained educators and guides with first aid and CPR certifications. Back-country trips carry satellite communications devices.  
  • All cook and dishware, meals, snacks, and river gear are provided by CFI.

FAQ

Some people say food is the most important part of the adventure. On all our overnight trips, CFI will provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a morning and afternoon snack, and an appetizer before dinner. If you have a dietary restriction or food allergy, note it on your medical form so we can best prepare.

Depends on the trip. As a general rule, CFI provides all group gear related to fully outfitting your trip. Specialized gear like PFDs, wetsuits, dry bags, educational materials are all provided by CFI. Additionally, we take care of all kitchen and dishware needs. 

Find out more about trip specific packing.

Most importantly, a willingness to slow down, connect to your surroundings, and experience the moment. Additionally, participants are required to bring a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, personal clothing, medication, and other essential personal items. Many gear items are available for rent. Reach out to us if you are interested in seeing a trip specific packing list, or learn more about trip specific packing here.

CFI provides options to rent gear:

  • Two person tent: $30 / trip
  • Sleeping bag: $20 / trip
  • Kid sleeping pad: $7 / trip
  • Adult sleeping pad (paco pad): $15 / trip
  • Package deal: Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and one tent per two people: $40 / trip

For any CFI summer camp, gear rentals are free!

Every CFI guide has either a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certification. Your trip leader will have a Wilderness First Responder certification. Anyone working with youth has passed a background check, and shuttle drivers are insured with clean driving records. Backcountry trips carry In-Reach satellite communication devices for emergencies. All guides have been evaluated by Canyonlands Field Institute as possessing the judgement, skills, and disposition required for mitigating risk in the field. 

As technology grows more and more invasive by the day, CFI promotes connection to what matters. To achieve this, all school and youth programs are unplugged and students are not permitted to bring electronic devices. Not only is there rarely cell service, devices are a distraction to our ability to connect to the present moment. On Private Group Trips or Adult Seminars, the use of devices is permitted but discouraged.

CFI works hard to ensure a positive experience for all guides and participants. Because of the unpredictable nature of outfitting, we have created a series of policies so maintain our ability to manage risk in the outdoors.

For critical information regarding cancellations, deposits, and other participant responsibilities, please view our trip policies page or contact us with any questions.

Thanks for asking! We know this can be an awkward subject. The fact is that our guides work extremely hard and appreciate getting tipped! 

On school trips, tips are not expected, but they are greatly appreciated. 

On an adult or private trip, an industry standard is to tip $25 per day for each customer. 

CFI is a non-profit organization and fees are not taxed. By choosing CFI, you are supporting our efforts to provide lifechanging outdoor experiences for hundreds of children per year.  Scholarships are available on an as needed basis.