Twenty Three people joined The Archaeological Conservancy’s adventure in the heartland of the Anasazi world, along one of the prettiest and archaeologically rich areas along the San Juan River. From land and from the vantage point of Utah’s San Juan River, we experienced one of the most scenic regions of the Southwest.
Led by Conservancy archaeologist Chaz Evans M.A., RPA. and noted scholar, David Grant Noble, (his books include Ancient Ruins of the Southwest, ), the information rich trip kicked off to a great start.
We begin our adventure with two full days of site visits on land, followed by our boarding our boats and floating down the San Juan River for four days, stopping often to visit Anasazi ruins and rock art sites accessible only by the river.
Sunday, June 7
In the morning we traveled by land to the nearby Bluff Great House. The people of Chaco Canyon caused this great pueblo to be built some 75 miles from the center of a complex system that dominated the Southwest in the 11th and 12th centuries. We also visited Edge of the Cedars Pueblo and Museum.
Monday, June 8
We visited Hovenweep and Canyon of the Ancients National Monuments, where we saw cliff dwellings, towers and kivas (subterranean ceremonial rooms) in the canyons of the Four Corners. These ruins relate mainly to the Mesa Verde culture that followed the Chacoans and utilize the same architectural techniques as the famous cliff dwellings. Between 1250 and 1300 all of the Anasazi left the region, never to return.
Tuesday, June 9 – Friday, June 12
We boarded our rafts at Montezuma Creek to begin our travel down river to Mexican Hat. Our outfitter for the trip, Wild Rivers Expeditions, expertly navigated our large rafts through several small rapids, but no dangerous white water despite the rain and runoff. They also provide us with marvelous, plentiful, and unexpectedly extravagant food.
Our raft guides offered a tremendous enhancement to our journey through their own unique levels of experience, backgrounds, and cultural diversity. We visited remote habitation sites like the Citadel, 16-room House, and River House. The beauty of these sites was greatly enhanced by the added value of being alone, the only people there were our group.
The trip was an amazing success and we look forward to sharing our next excursions with Conservancy members and anyone interested in experiencing the best archaeology in the Southwest.
Chaz Evans, Southwest Regional Office