Overview of Area Cultural History
For thousands of years, humans have considered the lands now within the Uncompahgre Field Office to be a desirable place to live. Current studies indicate that occupation of this portion of western Colorado began over 12,000 years ago during the Paleoindian Period, and has continued through the present day.
Archaeological and Rock Art Sites
The long period of occupation has resulted in a remarkable diversity of archaeological sites scattered throughout the region. Some particularly dense areas may contain one site for every ten acres.
Perhaps most impressive are the rock art sites, which range in age from ancient Archaic (7,000-400 BC) up through the Historic Period (1830-1950 AD). The symbolic images have been interpreted as depicting trails, maps, ceremonies, shamanic themes, band information, tribal histories, and hunting stories, along with marks, signatures, and artwork made by cowboys and explorers. Although some images might appear to be mundane graffiti, they were meaningful to the people who created them.
The Earliest Human Occupants
Caves and stone structures built along the slopes of the Uncompahgre Plateau offer evidence that occupants during the Formative Period (400 BC to 1300 AD) developed agriculture. Were these farmers relatives of the Anasazi of the Four Corners region?