Crow Canyon

Middle School Archaeology Camp

Brush away the dirt to uncover ancient pottery—and be the first person to touch that artifact in nearly a thousand years. Every summer at Crow Canyon, middle school students join our research team in southwestern Colorado, helping to discover the history of the ancestral Pueblo people of the Mesa Verde region.

At this academic/science camp, middle school students learn excavation and lab techniques, then work with our archaeologists. You’ll excavate at a real archaeological site where ancestral Pueblo people lived nearly a 1,000 years ago. You’ll also wash, catalog, and analyze ancient artifacts in the lab.

At archaeology camp you’ll also learn about American Indian cultures, past and present. Explore the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Find out what it’s like to weave on a loom, throw a wooden spear with an atlatl, and make fire with a bow drill.

In 2015 USA Today named our archaeology summer camps one of the 10 best adventure camps for kids.

Educational Focus

  • Introduction to archaeology and Pueblo history
  • Science, technology, engineering, math, and critical thinking

Students must have completed sixth, seventh, or eighth grade and be 12 years old by program date.


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.

About this Program

  1. Staff
  2. Accommodations
  3. Getting Here
  4. For Parents
  5. Details
  6. Scholarships

Tyson Hughes Tyson Hughes (B.A., Anthropology, Fort Lewis College) is an educator at Crow Canyon. He has been involved with Crow Canyon since he attended programs here as a child. As an archaeologist, he has worked in many areas throughout the country, but his passion lies in the archaeology of southwestern Colorado where he grew up. As an educator, he enjoys sharing his knowledge of this region with students. He is an avid flintknapper and specializes in prehistoric lithic technologies. When he is not at work, he enjoys exploring the mountains, canyons, and rivers of this beautiful Four Corners region with his family and friends.


Rebecca Hammond Rebecca (Becky) Hammond (A.F.A., Fine Arts, Institute of American Indian Arts) joined Crow Canyon as an educator in 1997. In the years since, she has taught participants of all ages in many different kinds of programs, including school programs, teen camps, and adult travel programs. As a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, she brings an American Indian perspective to Crow Canyon’s work. In addition to being a teacher, she is also a bead artist. Taught by her grandmother in traditional beading techniques, she enjoys drawing on both traditional Ute and ancestral Pueblo designs to create her own style of artwork.


Paul Ermigiotti Paul Ermigiotti (B.A., Anthropology, Penn State University) is an educator at Crow Canyon. He has worked at Crow Canyon since 1990; before that, he worked at Mesa Verde National Park. He specializes in creating replicas of ancestral Pueblo artifacts, including pottery, projectile points, atlatls, and bone tools. He helps lead Crow Canyon’s Pueblo Farming Project, working in collaboration with traditional Pueblo Indian farmers. Paul directs planting and harvesting of the experimental gardens and collects data from them each week. Outside of work, Paul’s interests include music, biking, skiing, and birding.

Camp participants share accommodations in comfortable cabins, which are new in 2016. The cabins have been designed to be energy efficient and to blend well with the landscape. Chaperons stay in separate rooms in the cabins and provide supervision. The cabins are coed, but individual rooms are not; your child’s roommates will be other camp participants of the same sex.

  • All rooms are equipped with bunk beds; camp participants must bring their own bedding and towels. Bathrooms (with showers) are located down the hall.
  • Food and drinks (except for water) are not permitted in the rooms at any time.
  • Camp participants must keep their rooms neat at all times, with gear properly stowed, so that the housekeeper can sweep the floors daily.

Laundry facilities are not available on campus. Your child should bring enough clothing to last one week.

Three delicious meals are served each day. On-campus meals are served cafeteria-style in the lodge; off-campus meals are served picnic-style. We provide a salad bar with campus lunch and dinner. Fresh fruit, lemonade, and iced tea are available all day. In addition, camp participants may purchase juice, spring water, and soda from the vending machine behind the lodge. Important: Please contact us before your child’s program if he or she has special dietary needs. We are able to accommodate most special diets, but some may require your child to bring supplemental foods.

Crow Canyon’s 170-acre campus, located just outside the town of Cortez, features a large meadow, pinyon- and juniper-covered hillsides, and spectacular views of Mesa Verde and the La Plata Mountains. A short nature trail winds through the woods. Buildings on campus include the lodge, where camp participants take their meals; the cabins, where students are housed; and the Gates Archaeology Laboratory, which houses classrooms, offices, and a small gift shop in addition to the lab. Two learning centers—one a life-size replica of a seventh-century pithouse, the other of a twelfth-century pueblo—allow students to “experience” life in the ancient past.

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 Mexico meet.

Driving to Crow Canyon
Major 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 students attending our camps. A Crow Canyon staff member will meet your child upon arrival at the airport and transport him or her to our campus.

Arrival and Departure
The campus opens at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, the day of arrival.Your child should arrive between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. Chaperons will assist camp participants in locating their rooms and getting settled in. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m., and an orientation and introduction program will be held at 6:30 p.m.

Departure day is Saturday. A self-serve breakfast will be available at 7:30 a.m. Camp participants must be packed and out of their rooms no later than 8:30 a.m. and should plan to leave campus by 11:00 a.m.

Dear parents,

More than 30 years ago, Crow Canyon was founded on the idea that schoolchildren could play a hands-on role in archaeology. In the words of longtime Crow Canyon board member Dr. Stuart Struever: “It has a huge impact on youngsters that someone respects them enough to let them have a trowel in their hand … to do real research in which they could actually contribute to the scientific mission.”

In other words, this is no ordinary summer camp.

  • We design our programs not only for budding archaeologists but also for any student who is curious about the world, about people and cultures, and about the connections between past and present. Many of our alumni go on to careers in archaeology, anthropology, museum studies, and related fields. Others excel in completely different pursuits.
  • While at Crow Canyon, teens absorb unforgettable lessons about history, other cultures, and their own place in the world.
  • When your teen returns home, you might notice a few changes, such as a confidence level that’s boosted by taking on new challenges and learning in whole new ways. Teens want to learn, and they want to make a difference. Here they accomplish both. The experience can be life changing.

We work at Crow Canyon because we love archaeology and kids! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.


The educators of Crow Canyon

Gear List

Archaeological Ethics

Terms, Conditions, and Cancellation Policy

Safety & Medical Information

Suggested Readings

The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center's programs and admission practices are open to applicants of any race, color, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, or sexual orientation.

Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California CST 2059347-50

When awarding scholarships, preference is given to students who would not otherwise be able to attend. Full and partial scholarships are awarded on the basis of the information you provide on the scholarship application, your essay, the teacher recommendation, and school transcript. Scholarship applications are due on February 15th. Scholarships will be awarded on March 1st.

The deposit will be due when a decision on the scholarship application is delivered.

Scholarship Application

Teacher Recommendation

How To Reserve Middle School Archaeology Camp

Tuition & Registration

$1,500 (member*)
$1,625 (nonmember)
Deposit: $500

*If you are interested in becoming a Crow Canyon member, please contact our Sales & Enrollment specialists

Scholarship Deadline Feb. 15, 2020

Registration Deadline: May 2, 2020

800.422.8975, ext. 455
M–F, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mountain Time)
[email protected]

Special Offers!

MSAC 250x185

For information on all of the special offers and discounts, check here

"This camp made me think that I want to be an archaeologist or maybe even a dendrochronologist. I am really glad that I got to go to Crow Canyon."
Lexy, Middle School Archaeology Camp

Read/Leave a review on TripAdvisor!