Range Creek Archaeology

A Sense of Place: History, Ecology, Geology

Hidden deep within the Western Bookcliffs of southeastern Utah, Range Creek Canyon is managed for prehistoric Fremont Culture research by the Utah Museum of Natural History. On this guided exploration of the region, you’ll spend three days venturing out from our truck-supported basecamp to learn about prehistoric peoples, geological features, and wildlife that frequent this rugged country.

With one of the only three operating permits available, CFI offers the only overnight guided trip into this beautiful, remote area. Additionally, this experience features an introductory session and behind-the-scenes tour of the USU Prehistoric Museum, led by Dr. Tim Riley

This trip includes all meals, cooked and served by CFI guides, expert naturalist and archeological interpretation, and 4wd vehicles needed to access this remote terrain.

Basecamp in a remote and protected part of canyon country

Until recently, this private land was inaccessible to exploration. Range Creek Canyon is now managed by the University of Utah Museum of Natural History (UMNH) primarily for long term research. This is not a place accessible to the general public, however, CFI has a special access permit that allows us to cross into a relatively untouched corner of the Bookcliff region.

Expert Archaeologists and Guides

Our team of Range Creek experts include Jamie Hollingsworth, Dr. Tim Riley, and Corinne Springer. Jamie was part of the University of Utah’s initial archaeological recording of Range Creek, and brings an expert lens to the process of discovery and storytelling within the region. Tim will lead the group in a special insider tour of the USU Prehistoric Museum, providing important context at the beginning of the trip, and Corinne has lived in the canyon, operating the Field School at Wilcox Ranch, for many years and will share settler and cowboy history.

CFI guides will give an overview of the canyon geologic and economic history, as well as local fauna and flora. During the trip guides handle logistics, camp support and prepare hearty, fresh meals. CFI’s combination of guest experts, local connections and experienced leadership ensures that your time spent exploring Range Creek Canyon will be informative and memorable.

Read the trip narrative and learn more about our guest faculty below!

"The wonderful staff helped make our dream come true. We have wanted to see Range Creek for a long time, and it finally happened! Jamie was an incredible guide/ archeologist! The guides took such good care of us. They truly care about their clients and go above and beyond to make sure we are happy."

- Max and Melanie, Oregon

Location:
Western Book Cliffs near Price, Utah
Dates:
August 23, 2024 through August 25, 2024
Group Size:
Minimum: 6, Maximum: 9
Age Range:
Adult and youth16 yrs of age and older
Cost:
$1100
Accommodations:
Vehicle Supported Base Camp, Tent camping, Latrine
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 and applies to the total final fee.
  • Trip starts and ends in Price, Utah
  • Fee includes all meals starting from dinner day 1 through lunch day 3.
  • Fee includes entrance fees to the USU Prehistoric Museum and to Range Creek special management area.
  • Bring your own sleeping gear or rent quality sleeping bag, thick pads, cot, or a tent from CFI

See other trips in these categories:

Trip Narrative

Day 1

We will meet in Price, Utah at the Prehistoric Museum at 1:30 pm the first day for a short orientation and to see material culture from the Range Creek area. After exploring the museum, we will load into CFI vehicles to drive the steep, rugged road up Horse Canyon and over a 8500′ foot pass into Little Horse Canyon and Range Creek.

Outside the North Gate that limits public access, we set up a comfortable base camp. This will be our home for the next few days as we venture into the wilderness. We will take some time to orient ourselves to the new place through reflection, storytelling, and reading from our rich trip library.

Day 2

Over the next few days, we will visit several rock imagery panels and have a close up look at a Fremont pit house village. We will view other structures and panels at some distance with binoculars and spotting scopes. We will also visit the Wilcox Ranch homestead which now serves as Field Station for summer field schools sponsored by the University of Utah and other academic institutions. There, our exact itinerary may vary due to current conditions and group interest. Most sites will be within short walking distance from the vehicles, and some sites requiring walking up or down steep slopes or longer hikes.

Day 3

On the last morning, we will visit sites in the upper canyon, offering an optional 1 mile round trip hike, and recap major themes. We will pack up our camp and depart from Range Creek after lunch and plan on arriving in Price around 4:oopm.

You can expect to come away from this experience with a renewed sense of exploration, appreciation for indigenous cultures, and a deep connection with your fellow travelers and guides!

Guest Faculty

 Jamie Hollingsworth, archaeologist, educator, and explorer, will lead attendees on this seminar. Jamie 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 consulting firm, PaeloWest as an archaeology 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 that hosts an annual large-scale inter-agency public event: Stewardship Day in Nine Mile Canyon. Ms. Hollingsworth is a registered member of the Navajo Nation and of Dine’, Irish, English and Norwegian descent.

 

Corrinne Springer, M.S. Anthropology and Range Creek Field Station Manager, has lived seasonally at the old Wilcox Ranch headquarters for many years. Corrinne will meet with our group to share settler and ranching history as well as to describe how Range Creek came to public attention in recent years, launched ongoing research and annual summer field schools.

Tim riley bio pic

Dr. Tim Riley, Director of the Utah State University Prehistoric Museum, will provide a special tour for our seminar. 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, paleoethnobotanist, 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. 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.

 

 

FAQ

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 Range Creek trip, you will be staying in a truck supported base camp. This means that all your gear will be packed in CFI's vehicles, and we will drive to our campsite and set up a comfortable base camp. 

Camp will feature spots for your tent, a camp kitchen, and a centrally located seating area. We will use rain tarps and shelters in case of hot or rainy weather, and we bring chairs for each participant. There will be a nearby porta-potties to use for the bathroom.

Hiking:

We will spend most of our days hiking on a trail or driving in vehicles to and from trailheads.

We will be in and out of vehicles often, with most sites located near the dirt road. Walking is mostly on level ground with several sites requiring walking up a short primitive hillside trail. There may be one optional hike up to a mile one way that would takes us through a brushy area and requires a shallow (inches) creek crossing. On our walks take an easy pace (about 45 min/mile) to accommodate all abilities and take note of things along the way.

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

  • Participants must bring their own tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag. You may also rent these gear items from CFI for an additional cost. 
  • 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.