Colorado’s Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Department and the Conservancy have agreed to jointly hold an easement to preserve the Sopris site, a very unusual high altitude site near the town of Basalt. Situated at an elevation of over 7,800 feet, Sopris was identified and documented by Metcalf Archaeological Consultants, a cultural resource management firm, and the Colorado Office of the State Archaeologist. The site could be more than 5,000 years old, and it was apparently occupied from the Middle Archaic to the Late Prehistoric periods. Of the 187 prehistoric sites recorded in Pitkin County, only nine date to the Archaic period.
Sopris’ age is based on the styles of projectile points and other lithic artifacts that were found there. Some of these items, which were not made from local stones, could have been procured from sources hundreds of miles away. These artifacts suggest a long occupation or multiple episodes of seasonal occupations over thousands of years.