Nine Mile Canyon Archaeology

Guided exploration of the "World's Longest Art Gallery"

Join CFI guides, and faculty archaeologists for an in-depth exploration of the world famous sites within Nine Mile Canyon. Throughout the trip, we will be hiking, exploring, discussing history and hoping to gain a deeper understanding and cultural perspective. Nine Mile has much to share.

This is a four-day, three-night trip with daily excursions to agency-approved sites that feature Barrier Canyon, Fremont Culture, and Ute rock imagery and occupational sites. There are also many interesting historical sites and stories dating from the 1800’s to present day.   We’ll stay in accommodations at the Nine Mile Ranch, and spend the days visiting these sites in CFI’s vehicles.  This is an all inclusive experience that covers meals, snacks, lodging, and cultural history experts.  

Guest Archaeology Experts

Our 2024 Nine Mile Canyon trip will be led by Jamie Hollingsworth and Micah Loma’omvaya. These experts bring a broad range of diverse perspectives and knowledge bases that combine to form a completely unique educational experience. See breathtaking archaeological resources through the lens of experts! Read more about this trip’s faculty below.

Behind the scenes tour

The trip begins with a special tour of at the Prehistoric Museum, led by Museum Director and Curator of Anthropology, Dr. Tim Riley. Enjoy an inside look at valuable background information on cultural sequence, pertinent research, and artifacts from Nine Mile Canyon. Your museum entrance fee is included in the seminar cost.

I would highly recommend this tour.  The sites we visited were very interesting and the subject matter experts provided a much fuller experience that I could have ever had if I had visited these areas by myself.  I will be attending more tours through CFI in the future.

- David, Nine Mile Participant 2023

Location:
Price and Nine Mile Canyon, UT
Dates:
May 14, 2024 through May 17, 2024
Duration:
4 days and 3 nights
Group Size:
Minimum: 6, Maximum: 8
Age Range:
Adults and youth 16+
Cost:
$1880
Accommodations:
Nine Mile Ranch, lodge rooms and cabins; shared bathhouses.
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 per person non refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot and applies to the total fee.
  • Trip starts and ends in Price, Utah
  • Nine Mile Ranch will provide bedding, towels for both lodge and cabins.
  • The rustic Ranch is off the grid; solar power provides limited electricity. Accommodations vary,  single rooms cannot be guaranteed.
  • Meals and snacks are included from dinner day 1 through lunch on the final day.
  • All entrance and land use fees are covered by CFI

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

Academic and volunteer surveys since the 1930’s report that the number of archaeological sites is indeed staggering.   “There is an overwhelming prevalence of rock art sites that exceeds anything reported elsewhere in the state of Utah and maybe even the United States… Indeed, the canyon’s moniker of World’s Longest Art Gallery” is well-deserved.” (Spangler, 2013.)  Prehistoric residences take a wide variety of forms yet evidence of longer-term occupations are rare. Intriguing differences exist between the people of Nine Mile and contemporaries to the north and south.

Day 1

This program begins at 2:00 p.m. at the USU Prehistoric Museum located at 155 E. Main Street in downtown Price. There is also an option to travel with the CFI staff from Moab earlier that day.

Your entrance fee is covered by CFI.  Following introductions, Dr. Tim Riley will conduct a special front and “back room” tour of the Museum, with a focus Fremont Culture and Nine Mile Canyon. After the tour we will depart in private vehicles for Nine Mile Ranch via Wellington on paved roads, and arrive at Nine Mile Ranch to settle in. Nine Mile Ranch has been operated by the Mead family for several generations, and it makes the perfect lodging for this program. CFI will provide a picnic dinner with a program orientation wrapping up the evening.

Days 2-3

Nine Mile Canyon connects the Uintah Basin to the Colorado Plateau, and the canyon has historic inscriptions and artifacts from Ute and other Indigenous peoples, from 19th century military forays and from early settler families. Descendants of many cultural groups keep up strong ties to Nine Mile.

On these days, we will set out on our educational adventures after a hearty breakfast, quick overview, and a 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 interest, Nine Mile is considered the “longest art gallery in the world” for its extensive Indigenous rock imagery primarily from the Fremont Culture time period.

We may find the traces of early trapper, military, and archaeology expeditions as well as picturesque cabins and ghost towns from once thriving cattle empires. Additionally, we will visit and discuss the current heritage and agricultural activities along side extensive oil and gas reserves. With your experts and fellow travelers, we will see and discuss ongoing scientific research, traditional knowledge, current tribal concerns and conservation initiatives.

We also view many panels and storage structures from the road with binoculars and spotting scopes. A few longer walks will be up short talus slopes or along sandy washes. We will return to our lodge in the late afternoon for free time, dinner and short evening programs.

Day 4

We will have our last breakfast, and check out of our lodge before venturing out for a final outing. After lunch and closing reflection, we say goodbyes head home in the afternoon. All sites we plan to visit are approved in advance by agencies and private land owners. Spending several days in Nine Mile allows us to experience more in a meaningful way. You’ll leave this area with a renewed sense of awe and appreciation for the diverse cultural history of the desert southwest.

Guest Faculty

Jamie Hollingsworth Bio pic

Jamie Hollingsworth, archaeologist and educator, has seventeen 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, Paleo West as a Project Manager. She served as Program Archaeologist for Project Discovery for a number of years, an outreach program that engaged high school students in research and public outreach in Nine Mile.  She serves on the board of the Nine Mile Coalition and active with the annual September Stewardship Day in Nine Mile, a large-scale inter-agency public event.  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.

 

Micah Loma'omvaya

Micah Loma’omvaya, is a member of the Bear Clan from Songoopavi in Second Mesa, Arizona. He is the Realty Officer for the Hopi Tribe and was previously employed as the Tribal Archaeologist in the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office.   Micah’s introduction to the field of anthropology was through a high school internship at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History; he went to earn a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from University of Arizona in 1997. Micah draws upon his experiences within his culture to provide perspectives and traditional ways of knowing about the origins and pathways of early peoples in this region. He has done public outreach through his private company Hopi Tours, for the Arizona Humanities Council, the Moab Museum and recently for CFI at Bears Ears National Monument. Micah expressed strong interest in seeing Nine Mile for the first time and sharing perspectives as an Indigenous anthropologist.

 

Tim riley bio pic

Dr. Tim Riley is the Director and Curator of Archaeology at the Utah State University Eastern Prehistoric Museum, located in Price. In his role as director, he hopes to continue to grow the museum as a community center, tourism hub, and top-notch research institute. Tim was trained as an archaeologist, paleo ethnobotanist, and palynologist under Vaughn M. Bryant. His primary research interests focus on how past human populations use the plant communities of the Colorado Plateau for food, medicine, and materials. One of his favorite artifact types is the lowly coprolite or desiccated fecal material. Dr. Riley was raised in Michigan before leaving to get his BA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Following a several year stint as a “shovelbum”, or archaeologist working on construction projects, he attended Texas A&M University to earn his PhD. He lives in Helper with his family, many musical instruments, and pets.

Karla VanderZanden, CFI Founding Director enjoys working with regional experts to create the adult seminar series.  Karla previously served as Program and then Executive Director, until stepping down from that position in 2020.  She continues to serve as a Trip Leader on a few select programs each year, while continuing to write grants for capital improvement projects.

Accessibility and Safety

For any CFI trip, please consult the Essential Eligibility Requirements to determine if this trip is right for you. You can also reach out to CFI at info@cfimoab.org to ask any questions. 

Regardless of the time of year, please bring all items suggested on the packing list, including rain layers.

CFI trips generally happen rain or shine, with some modifications possible depending on the weather.

 

Camping:

During the Nine Mile trip, we will stay at the Nine Mile Ranch. Visit their website for more information on the facility.

Hiking:

We will spend most of our day or driving in vehicles to and from points of interest in the Nine Mile area. 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.

Guide Training and Emergencies:

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 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. 

Need to Know

  • A $300 deposit is required to reserve your spot, and will be applied to the total fee.
  • 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.
  • For more information about CFI procedures, view our frequently asked questions or our policies and procedures pages.

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.