Book Cliffs/Three Canyon Utah Archaeology

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A NEW exploratory vehicle tour, short hikes with guest archaeologist Dr. Carol Patterson and historian John Weisheit.

  • Where: Book Cliffs – Hay Canyon/Westwater Creek area
  • When: through
  • What months available:

    2015 Dates TBA

  • Number of Days/Nights: Friday evening-Saturday-Sunday, includes 2 night ranch B & B stay
  • Group Size: Minimum 4, maximum 8
  • Age Group: Adults and youth 16+
  • Cost per Person: 2015 Fee TBA - includes lodging, meals, contribution to CFI youth programs
  • Deposit: $150 nonrefundable, applies to total fee; full balance due 30 days prior
  • Notes:
    • Rare opportunity to explore lesser visited area of the Bookcliffs near the Colorado border and to see incredible native rock art spanning 8000 years,  historic trapper inscriptions, learn about ranching families, cattle and sheep “wars”, about geologic formations and current and proposed energy development in this region. Trip based out of Three Canyon Ranch located about 30 minutes north of I-70.  Option to meet CFI/travel together from Moab, UT or to meet just off Interstate 70 at Westwater exit #227 and follow CFI to the Ranch.
    • With guest expert archaeologist Dr. Carol Patterson and historian John Wieshiet
    • Includes tour transport, optional round trip van transportation from Moab, lodging and meals by CFI and at Three Canyon Ranch B & B
    • Click here to read our cancellation policy.


This new exploratory trip will be led by CFI Director, Karla VanderZanden with guest faculty Dr. Carol Patterson and Mr. John Weisheit. We will enjoy the hospitality of the remote Three Canyon Ranch B & B, a working ranch and home of Lee and Debby Elmgreen.
Our van tour with short walks will explore several unique canyons in the heart of the Book Cliffs northeast of Moab Utah in Hay, East and Middle Canyons.  Dine and stay at the Three Canyons Bed and Breakfast (included in cost).

Your Guides

Carol Patterson, Ph D., consultant, researcher and educator, directs Urraca Archaeological Services based Montrose, Colorado. Carol has conducted surveys, monitoring and mitigations for various federal agencies and the Ute Tribe primarily in Eastern Utah and Western Colorado. Carol served as Adjunct Professor in Cultural Anthropology for Metropolitan State College of Denver and Mesa State University and has hosted field schools based at the Three Canyon Ranch in recent years. Her publications include recently released Ute Rock Art Maps and Concepts of Spirit in Prehistoric Art According to Clifford Duncan, Ute Spiritual Elder.  In addition to her work on Ute cultures, Carol has produced documentary films and given lectures on Puebloan cultures and the Old Spanish Trail.

John Weisheit,  is the Conservation Director with Living Rivers based in Moab, Utah.
John is an author, accomplished guide and educator with a long history of advocacy for rivers in the Southwest. John has served on the boards of  Colorado Plateau River Guides, Headwaters Institute and Canyonlands Field Institute among others.  He has authored numerous articles on regional geology and history and with two co-authors, has written a book called Cataract Canyon: A Human and Environmental History of the Rivers in Canyonlands.  Frequently quoted by press, he currently  monitors watershed and energy issues such as proposed tar sands project for the Book Cliffs.

Your Lodgings



The Itinerary

This is a short yet comprehensive introduction to geologic history, and  prehistoric and historic occupation, and will feature Archaic Barrier Canyon style, Fremont and  Ute rock art plus the the historic inscription of Antoine Robidoux and Denis Julien.  Located just north of I-70 and close to the Colorado-Utah state line, it is located at the at the convergence of three canyons. This area was an important place for prehistoric and historic people to travel through and leave paintings and engravings on the cliff faces.

Participate in discussions on rock art conservation and management for panels affected by natural causes. Threats from water, dust, salts and vandalism will be addressed. Lifeways and economies over time will be discussed including native, and more recent ranching, railroad and energy exploration.

  • Friday evening, meet at CFI in Moab. Proceed in CFI van to Westwater exit, final participant pick up at Exit 225, arriving at Three Canyons Ranch.
  • Geologic overview and morning hike to the nearby western panels
  • Lunch served at the Three Canyons Bed and Breakfast
  • Afternoon hike to eastern panels, the “flash-flood” panel and Barrier Canyon style painted figures
  • Evening presentation on Numic Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau
  • Day 2 Morning drive up Hay Canyon to the Divide Road, see changing life zone vegetation, discuss ranching and energy history,  controversies.
  • East Canyon to the newly found petroglyphs exposed by a wildfire
  • Afternoon day 2 return to Moab by 5 p.m.