Crow Canyon

Wet Behind the Bears Ears: Backcountry Archaeology

bears ears


The Study of Water in a Sacred Landscape


Join Crow Canyon as we follow the path of least resistance through the impressive landscape of one of our newest national monuments. You will see signs of life all around, yet water seems scarce among the sandstone mesas and time-worn valleys unless you know where to look. Join your guides Craig Childs, Jonathan Till, and Hopi and Ute scholars as we study the water of Bears Ears National Monument and all that it has made possible over the centuries. Enjoy a guided tour through time and place as we explore ancient art and architecture. See for yourself why this place is culturally important and worthy of our respect.


  • Explore a Chaco-style great house, and camp in the beautiful landscape of Bears Ears National Monument.
  • Learn how the ancient ones lived in the inspiring landscape of Bears Ears. Duck into canyons and gaze out over miles of unique rock formations to discover hidden springs, seasonal watercourses, and ancestral dwellings.
  • Learn from Hopi and Ute scholars who will guide the group through cultural sites with connections to their culture and traditional lifeways. Learn about life on the land from the perspective of people who have sustained life in the high desert for thousands of years.


To our valued participants: We appreciate your support and welcome your registration in our programs. Given the ongoing uncertainty around social distancing and travel guidelines, we are no longer requiring deposits upon registration. This will allow a smooth process for both our travelers and our organization if it becomes necessary to cancel additional programs due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you have questions about this policy for our Cultural Exploration programs, please contact Tayler Hasbrouck at 970-564-4366 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. With questions about any of our other on-campus programs please contact Laura Brown at 970-564-4346 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wet Behind the Bears Ears: Backcountry Archaeology

  1. Scholars
  2. Accommodations
  3. Is This Trip for You
  4. Terms & Policies

Jonathan Till

Jonathan Till, MA, lives in Bluff, UT, and has pursued a multitude of archaeological experiences in the northern Southwest for 30 years. Jonathan is curator of collections at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding, UT. One of his passions is analyzing the influence of Chacoan society throughout the Four Corners region.

Craig ChildsCraig Childs is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of over a dozen books. Childs writes about the relationship between humans, animals, landscape, and time. He has followed ancient Pueblo passages on foot across the Southwest; his stories come from personal experiences ranging from journeys into the deep wilderness to conversations with illicit artifact dealers. His most recent book is Atlas of a Lost World (2018).

Stone Lizard Lodge, Blanding, UT:

Built in the late 1940s, and Blanding’s first motel, the quiet, homelike adobe lodge is located in the heart of Blanding. The lodge consists of seventeen cozy, smoke-free guest rooms, each with smart HD flat-screen television with DIRECTV, free high-speed Wi-Fi, coffee maker, microwave, and refrigerator. The lodge is owned by San Juan County locals and features work by local photographers focusing on canyon country landscapes, ancestral Pueblo sites, and petroglyphs from the surrounding area, as well as metal artwork by the owners’ son.

La Posada Pintada, Bluff, UT:

Located in the heart of red rock country, La Posada Pintada prides itself on providing guests with a quiet, luxurious retreat during their stay. Rooms feature private patios with great vistas. The inn offers homemade breakfasts, and local staff are knowledgeable about area attractions.


This program includes intensive hiking across rugged and remote canyonlands. You may be required to hike up to 4 or 5 miles a day on uneven, rocky, and unestablished trails. Some routes may be impeded by boulders and low-angle bedrock. While staff members are available for assistance, you should be comfortable using your hands to steady yourself and be able to take steps higher than a standard staircase step to navigate around the boulders and bedrock.


The elevation levels for this trip range from 4,000 to 9,000 feet. We recommend ramping up your exercise regime prior to arrival or arriving a day or two early to acclimate, especially if coming from sea level. If you have any questions, please contact your physician.

Remote Facilities

This program includes three nights of camping in a remote landscape where urban comforts and running water are not available. While we take advantage of facilities along our travels, many trailheads and hiking trails lack facilities. We will offer a simple “hiker’s toiletry kit” as an option. We always practice “Leave No Trace” ethics. At our base camp, we will have a camp-style portable toilet with curtain shelter set up for use. Parts of this trip involve backcountry travel in vans; expect drives on winding dirt roads.

Cultural Sensitivity

We will traverse a sacred landscape—the ancestral homeland of descendant communities. Crow Canyon participants are expected to show respect for our tribal partners and support their traditional ways.

Archaeological Ethics

It is a violation of the Society for American Archaeology code of ethics for program participants to keep any artifacts or other cultural or paleontological remains from any archaeological site. It is against the law for participants to keep any such materials collected from state or federal land. It is our hope that you become site stewards and help us preserve our national heritage for future generations.

For further information on the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center’s Terms, Conditions, and Cancellation Policies please click here. You will find details on tuition, cancellations, travel insurance, accommodations, medical information, and more.

Tuition & Registration

Single Tuition
Member*: $5,260
Non-Member: $5,385

Shared Tuition
Member*: $5,000
Non-Member: $5,125

Deposit (due at time of registration): $2,000
*If you are interested in becoming a Crow Canyon member, please contact our Enrollment Specialists.

Registration Deadline and Balance Due in Full for March Travel: 11/13/2019

Registration Deadline and Balance Due in Full for September Travel: 5/14/2020

To Register:
Call: 800-422-8975, ext. 457
E-mail: [email protected]