images-1A visit to a ghost towns, an abandoned building, a forsaken mine, or an archaeological site cannot help but spark our curiosity and raise a long list of questions: What was this place like at its peak? Who were the people who lived or worked here? What did they eat? What did they wear? Why did they leave? Experts at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center have most of the answers to such questions with regard to our ancient regional ancestors, the Anasazi, a people who once upon a time occupied the Mesa Verde region of southwestern Colorado.

The Anasazi, or “Ancient Ones,” inhabited the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States from about 200 – 1300 A.D. While their baskets and pottery are highly admired, it is their remarkable cliff dwellings that tell the most vibrant story. Nearly all aspects of Anasazi life, apart from hunting and growing food, could be performed within the dwellings. Some contain deep pits or “kivas,” which served as places of worship. Historians continue to theorize about the cause of the Anasazi decline: Was it attacks from hostile tribes or perhaps the exhaustion of natural resources?

images-2The team at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center is committed to unraveling these mysteries as they work to preserve the Anasazis’ rich history and preserve what remains of American Indian culture. A core belief of the scientists at Crow Canyon is that through research, we gain a broader and deeper appreciation of the human condition.

Saturday, May 11, the Telluride Historical Museum hosts a field trip to the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. Participants get to enjoy an informative tour of the Center’s archaeological laboratory, as well as visit the Pithouse and Pueblo Learning Centers. Other stops include the Dillard Site – a 17th-century great kiva —as well as Sand Canyon and Goodman Point, two of the largest 13th- century pueblos in the Four Corners region. The group will also be treated to lunch prepared by Chef Jim Martin. At the end of the day, attendees will leave with a basic understanding of the Pueblo people’s history and culture.

Don’t miss this opportunity to go behind the scenes of this fascinating, living archaeological research facility.

We will meet at the Telluride Historical Museum at 8:30 a.m., where carpools will be arranged. Expect to return around 5:00 p.m.

Tickets are $70 for museum members; $80 for non-members.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit


For a preview, we suggest you watch Susan Viebrock’s interview with archaeologist and director of research at Crown Canyon, Mark Varien. (The interview dates back to 2010 and is part of a series on Telluride Inside…and Out.)

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