Archaeology & History of San Rafael Swell and Nine Mile Canyon

Lodge Based Archaeology Tour

Join CFI on this new cultural history tour based in Price, Utah. Visit world-famous cultural sites in Nine Mile Canyon and the San Rafael Swell with guest archaeologists Ms. Jamie Hollingsworth and Dr. Tim Riley and historian, Mr. Tim Smith.

This is a lodge based trip with daily excursions in CFI’s 4 wheel drive vehicles. Our program starts with a special back room tour at the Prehistoric Museum in Price. Our day outings will visit  incredible rock art/writing panels, Fremont Culture granaries and occupational sites.  We will also check out historic inscriptions that tell the stories of early military, miners, and ranchers.

Physical activity is moderately easy, with most sites close to the vehicles. There will be a few mile-long walks up sandy washes. There will be options to view archaeology sites through spotting scopes, or scramble up rocky slopes to get a closer look.

 This program’s itinerary pending approval by the Bureau of Land Management. 

Guest Archaeology Experts

Our network of guest experts are what makes CFI trips stand apart from other outfitters. Jamie Hollingsworth and Tim Smith team up with CFI staff and USU’s Prehistoric Museum Director, Tim Riley to create an unforgettable educational experience. View their biographies below.

Behind the scenes tour

The trip begins with a special tour of Utah State University’s Prehistoric Museum led by Museum Director Tim Riley. Gain valuable context and insights on the archaeological history of the area before venturing into the desert the following days. D

All Inclusive Trip

Let CFI take care of the meals, driving, interpretation, and logistics so you can fully immerse yourself in this unique experience. See full trip narrative below for itinerary details.

Based in Price, UT
May 16, 2023 through May 19, 2023
Group Size:
Minimum: 6, Maximum: 9
Age Range:
Adults and youth 16+
$1790; Member Price: $1705
Hotel or guest lodge rooms, double occupancy

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 per person deposit is required to reserve your spot.
  • Fees are based on double occupancy. To request single a room, the supplemental fee is $210 for the trip.
  • Fee includes a $100 donation to youth programs.
  • There is an option to travel to and from Moab with the CFI crew.

See other trips in these categories:

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

Guest Faculty

Jamie Hollingsworth Bio pic

Ms. Jamie Hollingsworth, archaeologist and educator, has sixteen years of experience in cultural resource practices on the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin. Her graduate studies and later work at the University of Utah included assisting with research and field school in Range Creek.  Jamie has worked for the archaeology consulting firm, PaeloWest as an  Project Manager and served as Program Archaeologist for Project Discovery for a number of years. Project Discovery is an outreach program serving high school students and an annual large-scale inter-agency public event, Stewardship Day in Nine Mile Canyon. Jamie also leads the CFI Range Creek Canyon seminar. Jamie currently works in the tech industry and is the mother of active young children.  Ms. Hollingsworth is a registered member of the Navajo Nation and of Dine’, Irish, English and Norwegian descent.

Tim Smith no glasses, CFI mug

Mr. Tim Smith recently retired from Utah State Parks as the Southeast Region Manager, following a long career throughout the Colorado Plateau. Tim held seasonal positions with the National Park Service in Canyonlands, Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon. Transferring to the Utah State Parks system, his first assignment was at Mill site Reservoir at Ferron, Utah which proved a great base to explore nearby San Rafael Swell in his free time. Additional work experience for Utah included managing Coral Pink Sand Dunes and Antelope Island. Tim lives in Moab and remains an avid Plateau explorer. He will be sharing favorite locations for our CFI seminar, highlighting regional geography and information on the historic explorations, economic activities and current issues.


Dr. Tim Riley, Director of the Utah State University Prehistoric Museum, will provide a special tour for our seminar. Dr. Riley also serves as Curator of Archaeology for this museum, which features Fremont material culture and paleontology of the region.

Karla VanderZanden, CFI Founding Director, is working with Jamie and Tim to research and plan this new seminar. Since its inception in 1984, Karla previously served as Program and then Executive Director. She continues to serve as Naturalist and Trip Leader on a few select programs each year and does grant writing for CFI’s Field Camp improvements.

Trip Narrative

Day 1

This seminar starts in in Price, Utah. Check into lodging then meet at the USU Prehistoric Museum downtown. Following introductions, Dr. Tim Riley will conduct a special tour of the Museum for our group. After the tour, we will get to know each other over a light dinner in the Museum meeting room.

Days 2-3

On these days, we will set out on our educational adventures after a quick overview and look at the maps. We will travel both paved and backcountry roads in CFI’s vehicles and spend the days stopping at various points of historic interest. We will take short walks to various cultural sites, have discussions about native and anglo history, and hear about the modern issues facing these areas. We will return to our lodging in the late afternoon for free time, and have drinks and dinner at a nearby cafe or by CFI.

Day 4

We will have our last breakfast, and check out of our lodging before venturing out for the morning’s activities. After a final lunch and closing reflection, we will return to Price around 2:30 to say our goodbyes and head home. Dr. Riley will join us in the field on the last morning to visit both public and private land locations. Our discussion include cultural resource management issues and ways to get involved.  You’ll leave this area with a renewed sense of awe and appreciation for the diverse cultural history of the desert southwest.

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.


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, 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 for each customer to tip $25 per day.

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.