Moab and Bears Ears Archaeology

Vehicle tour with base camp and cabin stays.

This unique archeology seminar spans the Moab area, from Professor Valley, to the Indian Creek Unit of the Bears Ears National Monument. Throughout the trip, you will be treated to hearty guide-cooked meals, unique lodging, and guest expert interpretation.

Lodging includes a stay at the rustic Professor Valley Field Camp  up the river from Moab   &   3 Step Hideaway Bed and Breakfast   in Lisbon Valley north of Monticello. This trip involves travel by CFI van and support vehicle for our overnight gear. It is rated Easy-Moderate in physical ability i.e. short walks from the vehicle, with a leisurely pace, some short talus slopes to access sites, optional. Binoculars and spotting scopes are available.

Seminar Objectives:

  • Learn about the “borderlands” where Fremont and Ancestral Puebloan and later Ute cultures overlapped.
  • Discuss research on earlier Paleo and Archaic peoples and the possible pathways of influence as farming moved northward and intermingled with foraging lifeways.
  • See outstanding examples of Archaic Barrier Canyon, Glen Canyon Linear, Fremont Culture, Puebloan, and later historic rock art and inscriptions.
  • Learn history of mining, uranium, and other booms of the Moab, Lisbon Valley
  • Discuss and view dramatic geologic formations, flora and fauna communities.
  • Enjoy unique accommodations and local insights and connections.

Explore archaeology with the experts

This seminar examines the cultural Borderlands where Ancestral Puebloan and Fremont cultural areas overlap. Our experts provide context, connections, and anthropological research throughout various site visits. We will take day trips to see rock art and evidence of older and more recent human activity spanning thousands of years.

An all inclusive learning adventure

Come ready to immerse yourself within the breathtaking scenery, and let us worry about the details. The combination of lodging at CFI’s Professor Valley Field Camp, and 3 Step Hideaway means you will be able to focus on connecting to your surroundings! Discussion of natural and cultural history will pair nicely with the hearty camp meals provided by CFI and 3 Step staff.


Moab, UT
September 17, 2022 through September 21, 2022
5 days and 4 nights
Group Size:
Minimum: 6, Maximum: 8
$1,820; Member Price: $1,729 plus $10 BLM Special Area Fee
Varying - see trip narrative

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.
  • A $300 deposit is required to reserve your spot on this Seminar
  • Fee includes a $50 donation to youth programs.
  • $10 BLM Special Area Management Fee
  • See the Need to Know section for critical information about lodging and hiking difficulty

See other trips in these categories:

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

Steve Simms Guest Faculty

The story I hope to tell is one of real lives of real people, not just a sequence of what tribe and “culture” lived where. It is also about change over the life history of individuals, not a static, unchanging traditional past. The beliefs of people about ethnicity and symbolism arose from those interactions,  not the maintenance of strict boundaries. There are valuable messages for our own times."

Dr. Steve Simms, Guest Faculty

Trip Narrative

Day 1

The trip begins at CFI headquarters in Moab, Utah at 1pm. After a short introduction, we will load our gear into the CFI vehicles and start our adventure! We will stop for a short overview at the recently renovated Moab Museum then head along scenic HWY 128 that runs through the canyons of the Colorado River to our first stop. In the evening, we will take some time to unwind and explore the 30 acre property, eat dinner, and meet for an educational session with our guest faculty.

Day 2

Wake up to the smell of coffee and the desert sights of Professor Valley. After breakfast we will pack lunch, and visit rock art sites in Professor Valley. The day will be spent around several BLM locations that feature evidence of Fremont and Puebloan presence. We will take some time to break down present day issues facing government land agencies and current Indigenous tribes. After a day of exploring, we will return to camp in the late afternoon for siesta, reading, interesting conversations and a short evening presentation.

Day 3

After breakfast, we will pack up and move to the next location. We will spend the morning along a canyon that features spectacular rock art from several different cultural groups, then proceed south to Lisbon Valley. Along the way, we will stop at a working azurite mine with an archaeological history. As we drive through dramatic geologic formations of a collapsed salt valley, we learn about past and current uranium, oil, gas and copper mining in Uravan Mineral Belt. That evening we will check in to the 3 Step Hideaway and meet our hosts Scott and Julie Stevenson. This charming homestead inn features small cabins and homecooked meals by Julie at the Cantina.

Day 4

Fill your coffee mug twice for a very full day in Indian Creek, the northern section of Bears Ears National Monument. This area features Ancestral Puebloan defensive and home sites that we can view with spotting scopes as well as several rock art sites. Today we will dive into modern history and discuss cowboys, ranching, and recent efforts to protect the Bears Ears Area while providing recreational opportunities.

Day 5

We will bid farewell to Scott and Julie, then head out to see dinosaur traces and follow a leg of the Old Spanish Trail that traversed this region in the early 1800’s. We will head to Canyon Rims for short walks, a recap of cultural themes from our seminar, and an incredible view of Canyonlands below. We will return to CFI in the afternoon.


The deep past was not a sequential history of bounded “peoples” but rather was an inexorable interaction of peoples over generations. Immigration was not an event, a one-shot deal. Rather, residential cycling was the persistent pattern. The La Sal area saw interaction with larger populations of Fremont farmers to the north (Book Cliffs, Range Creek) as well as Puebloan farmers to the south (Great Sage Plan, Mesa Verde.) Hybridization is not quite accurate, but a Frontier where people of different heritages are thrown together and end up learning each other’s lifeways, languages, beliefs…where children learn to make a basket from a mother of one heritage and an aunt from another heritage, and then the basket has attributes of multiple traditions. This is a place where farming can fail, especially in some decades and some people might leave while others shift to a foraging lifestyle. 

-Dr. Steven R. Simms, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Utah State University.


Guest Faculty

Ms. Nancy Hewitt will be our lead faculty for this seminar. Nancy “grew up” in the National Parks throughout the western United States. She holds a M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Utah and has conducted research, worked on archaeological site stabilization projects and been an Interpretive Ranger.  Nancy currently works as an Alumni Engagement Officer with Wasatch Academy and assists with field trip planning.  She is a published poet, current editor for two series of archaeological research papers and a Business Writers Award winner. Additional local expertise will be added by guest presenters and CFI naturalist guides.


Need to Know

  • CFI staff are trained educators and guides with first aid and CPR certifications.
  • All cook and dishware, meals, and snacks provided by CFI.

Lodging Information

This trip includes two nights at CFI's Professor Valley Field Camp. PVFC features tipis and cots for sleeping as well as flush toilets, running water, and a full size camp kitchen. The facility also has an indoor yurt with electricity. Cell service is limited.

Additionally we will spend 2 nights at the 3 Step Hideaway Bed and Breakfast. Visit their website for more information on their facilities.

Both locations can accommodate a recreational vehicle without hookups. If you plan on bringing an RV, please call in advance.

Activity Level Information

Most hiking will be short trips from vehicles with one or two longer hikes stretching 2-4 miles total per day; pace is leisurely, averaging 1 mile per 45 minutes.  Walking routes will include uneven ground, short steep hills, across slickrock, and hops across shallow creeks.


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.