Caitlin Sommer (M.A., Anthropology, University of Colorado) has been a field archaeologist at Crow Canyon since 2010, instructing students and adults in proper field methods and techniques—from digging and mapping to “reading” stratigraphy. She is the supervisory archaeologist for the Northern Chaco Outliers Project. Her research interests include the Basketmaker time period, specifically focusing on understanding the nature of these early farming communities. When not doing archaeology, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids, exploring the mountains and canyons of southwestern Colorado.
Steve Copeland (B.A., Anthropology, University of Colorado) has worked at Crow Canyon since 2006 as a field archaeologist. During the program season, Steve is responsible for teaching students and adults archaeological field methods, so if your program includes site excavation, he’ll show you how to dig, screen, measure, map, and document your finds. Steve’s research interests include architecture and Southwest studies; on his days off, he enjoys mountain biking, backpacking, hiking, and spending time with family.
Kari Schleher (Ph.D., Anthropology, University of New Mexico) is Crow Canyon’s laboratory manager. She teaches artifact analysis to students and adults in Crow Canyon programs. Her specialty is the analysis and interpretation of Pueblo pottery; she is particularly interested in production technology and what pottery can tell us about connections between different groups of people who lived in the past. Kari enjoys traveling, especially to learn about cultures around the world, and she has worked on archaeological projects all over the American Southwest and in Peru. In her spare time, she likes to hike and make jewelry.
Becca Simon (M.A., Anthropology, Colorado State University) started working at Crow Canyon in 2014. She grew up in Washington, D.C., where she developed a love of history and archaeology by visiting the many museums of the Smithsonian Institution. She has a passion for education and archaeology with work experience at various educational programs, museums, and cultural resource management companies. She has archaeological field experience in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and southern Jordan. Her professional interests include archaeological education, public outreach, historic preservation, Southwest archaeology, the protohistoric era, and historical photography.
Meet all of our archaeologists and educators.
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.
Getting You and Your Gear to Crow Canyon
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.
Archaeological fieldwork requires physical exertion: hiking a short distance to reach the site, lifting buckets of dirt, kneeling on the ground for extended periods, and working at an elevation of 6200 feet. You will work at your own pace, but the experience will be more enjoyable if you are in good physical condition.
If you do not exercise regularly, you might improve your conditioning by taking consecutively longer walks at home before the program begins. 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 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!