Benjamin (Ben) Bellorado is an anthropological archaeologist who focuses on Indigenous cultures in the northern Southwest. For over 20 years, Ben has studied the material cultures of Native American peoples who lived in the Four Corners area. Ben is originally from Wyoming and received his bachelor’s degree at Fort Lewis College, his master’s degree from Northern Arizona University, and recently received his doctorate from the University of Arizona. He also has worked extensively in the Cultural Resource Management industry. Ben has studied a diversity of topics over his career ranging from maize agriculture, to ceramic analysis, to experimental archaeology, and ethnography. Ben’s recent research focuses on documenting at-risk archaeological sites in Bears Ears National Monument, using tree-ring dating to date these sites, and revisiting old museum collections of ancient clothing. His doctoral research is aimed at understanding the ways that ancestral Pueblo peoples used textiles and textile depictions in other media to express complex ideas about various aspects of social identities in the tenth through thirteenth centuries. Ben joined the incredible research team at Crow Canyon in August as the new Laboratory Manager.
Kate Hughes (M.A., Applied Anthropology, Northern Arizona University) began working in Crow Canyon’s lab in 2015. As Laboratory Analyst, she develops and teaches lab education programs, processes and analyzes artifacts, and assists with curation concerns. She also serves as Crow Canyon’s internship coordinator. A Crow
Canyon lab intern in 2006, Kate has since worked for cultural resource management
companies in the Four Corners region and in the Great Basin. Her research interests
include textiles, lithic technology, and public archaeology; on her days off, she enjoys gardening, fiber arts, and exploring the outdoors.
Jamie Merewether (B.A., Anthropology, University of Colorado) is Crow Canyon’s Collections Manager. She has worked in Crow Canyon’s research laboratory since 1997; before that, she gained extensive survey, excavation, and laboratory experience throughout the West. As collections manager, Jamie is responsible for keeping track of the thousands of artifacts and samples that come in from the field every year, making sure they are inventoried, cataloged, and analyzed correctly; she also manages the maps, photos, and other field documentation related to Crow Canyon excavations. When not at work, Jamie enjoys traveling, hiking, bird watching, and exploring the wilderness areas of the western U.S.
Program tuition includes shared accommodations in comfortable, rustic Navajo-style log cabins (“hogans”), each housing up to four people in a single room. Shared, modern shower and toilet facilities are located in a separate building adjacent to the hogans. The hogans are set amid juniper and pinyon trees on our campus.
Private rooms are not available and, depending on enrollment, couples might not be housed together. Room assignments are made approximately two weeks before the program and are based on the number of people and programs in a given week. Rooming requests will be honored if possible, but special arrangements cannot be guaranteed. You must provide your own bedding and towels.
If you are joining us for back-to-back sessions, you may stay over on a Saturday night for an additional $50 per person. Saturday lunch and dinner, as well as Sunday breakfast and lunch, will be on your own.
All campus facilities except the learning centers are fully heated, and classrooms are artificially cooled. The sleeping quarters are not artificially cooled, but the temperature in this area usually drops significantly at night. All indoor facilities are smoke-free. Wildfires are a real danger in our area; if you smoke, please do so only in the designated smoking area, at the picnic table behind the lodge. Smoking by minors (under age 18) is prohibited.
If you prefer to stay in town at a motel, we will reduce the cost of your program by $180 per week, per person. Meals will be provided on campus as usual. We can provide information about local accommodations, or you may visit Mesa Verde Country for information.
Laundry facilities are not available on campus.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served each day. On-campus meals are served cafeteria-style in the lodge; dinner and lunches include a salad bar and a vegetarian entree. Fresh fruit, lemonade, iced tea, and coffee are available on campus all day. If you are working at the site, snacks, water, and a picnic lunch (sandwiches, fresh fruit, chips, and cookies) are provided. Juice, spring water, and soda are available from the vending machine behind the lodge. Crow Canyon dining consistently receives rave reviews!
If you have special dietary needs, please contact us before your program. We are able to accommodate most special diets, but some may require you to bring supplemental foods.
Crow Canyon is located amidst majestic
mountains, mesas, and canyons about 4
miles northwest of the town of Cortez in
southwestern Colorado. We are 15 miles
west of the entrance to Mesa Verde
National Park and 40 miles northeast of the
Four Corners Monument, where the states
of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New
Driving to Crow Canyon
Highways link Cortez to cities in all
directions. We are 50 miles west of
Durango, Colorado; 400 miles southwest of
Denver, Colorado; 250 miles northwest of
Albuquerque, New Mexico; 400 miles
northeast of Phoenix, Arizona; and 350
miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Traveling by Air
The Cortez Municipal Airport, located about 15 minutes from campus, is served by Boutique Airlines (via Denver and Phoenix). The Durango–La Plata County Airport, located about 80 minutes from campus, is served by United Express (via Denver) and American Airlines (via Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth). Crow Canyon will provide shuttle transportation to and from both airports at no extra charge to program participants. Alternatively, you may fly into one of the following cities and rent a car: Farmington, New Mexico (75 miles to Cortez); or Albuquerque, New Mexico (about a 5-hour drive to Cortez).
For more information, please see the Details tab.
The lab activity level is light and includes sitting, working at a computer, standing, lifting light objects, and using laboratory tools. If you have any questions or concerns about your ability to participate in this program, please call one of our sales and enrollment specialists at 800.422.8975, ext. 451.
Local Environment, Climate, and Weather
Crow Canyon is located in the high desert, where deep sandstone canyons dissect pinyon-, juniper-, and sage-covered plains, all against the distant backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. The campus and excavation site are located at an elevation of 6200 feet; the elevation of Mesa Verde National Park ranges from 7000 to 8500 feet.
The Colorado sun is strong (ultraviolet exposure increases about 4 percent for every 1000 feet above sea level), and the air is generally very dry. In summer, daytime temperatures are usually in the mid-80s to low 90s, but occasionally reach triple digits. Nighttime temperatures can drop to around 50◦F. In July and August (our monsoon season), it is not uncommon to get afternoon thunderstorms.
The best precaution for anyone not accustomed to both the dry climate and the high elevation is to drink plenty of water. We recommend that program participants drink at least two quarts of water per day, every day, while here. In addition, pre-hydration—drinking plenty of water for a few days before leaving home—may help the body acclimate more quickly. Also, sunscreen is a must!