Canyons and Landscapes of Cedar Mesa

Canyons and Landscapes of Cedar Mesa

Leader: Don Keller and Ann Walka
Dates: May 10–15, 2011 (6 days / 5 nights)
Cost: $1150 Members / $1200 Nonmembers
Difficulty: Moderate

Cost includes transportation, all meals, and group gear.

From the Bears Ears and Natural Bridges National Monument down to Muley Point, Cedar Mesa is an island oasis standing above the lower desert and canyons of the San Juan River, Comb Ridge, and vistas of southeast Utah. Its position at 6500 feet elevation on the crest of the Monument Upwarp supports a broad upland mosaic of pinyon-juniper woodland and sagebrush parks, while the canyons of Slickhorn, Johns, Road, Fish and Owl, and Grand Gulch cut deeply into the mesa with protected and intimate habitats and water sources. Deep eolian and alluvial soils first attracted pioneer Puebloan Anasazi farmers here over two thousand years ago, and favorable climate periods drew them back to the mesa throughout the long millennium that followed. A wide variety of their living sites are located across the wide mesa and in the beautiful sandstone canyons cut into it. The mesa and its cultural sites remain in relatively undisturbed solitude, a rich setting for exploration of the patterns and substance of nature and prehistoric life in such an environment. We’ll drive each morning from a central base camp to various parts of the mesa and day hike out to particular sites and down these splendid canyons to find their prehistoric cliff dwellings and natural oases. Hiking distances will vary, with up to six to eight miles round trip each day. Our goals will be adventure, exploration, and learning. Cedar Mesa and its rich legacy of past lives invite contemplation and stimulate conversation, and we’ll take time around our evening campfires and waxing spring moon to discuss what we’ve seen and to reflect on the nature of this unique place. Led by archaeologist Don Keller and naturalist and poet Ann Weiler Walka with field assistant Deidra Strom. Wholesome and tasty camp meals, snacks, and field transportation are included. Readings, weather information, and equipment recommendations will be provided prior to our trip.

About the trip leader

Don Keller strives to help participants understand the landscapes, the resources they contain, and how these resources have been used over time to create human settlement… Read more…

A writer, naturalist, and stubborn generalist, Ann Weiler Walka is intrigued by a landscape’s weave of geologic processes, natural histories, ecological relationships— the patterns and surprises that make up the world. Read more…

Hear what past trip participants say…

“The trip is special because of the archaeology and geology we get from Don and Ann’s knowledge of flora, fauna, and readings from relevant literature.” —M.S.

“Terrific group leaders with real knowledge of the area and social histories.”—S.V.

“It’s always such a pleasure to have Ann and Don leading us!! Ann sharing her expertise as a naturalist and a poet and Don sharing his archeology expertise and knowledge of the area.”—B.J.

Read more…