Itinerary for an Archaeology-themed “Learning Visit”
For a learning visit with an Archaeology theme, begin with a trip to the Museum of Western Colorado’s Museum of the West in Grand Junction to learn about the Ute and Fremont Native Americans who lived in this area. Then, get out in the field, heading to McDonald Creek Cultural Area to see in-situ rock art and wander the canyon that provided a home and hunting areas to the Fremont and Utes. Returning to Grand Junction, stop into the Mesa County Fairgrounds to learn more about traditional plant use by the Utes at the Ute Ethnobotany Learning Garden. The Learning Garden is a 2.5 acre garden featuring the native plants that were traditionally used by the Utes, replicating topography and other variables at a small scale to explain the different landscapes where these plants might be found. Visitors to the Learning Garden experience the history of the Ute Indians in Western Colorado, learn about the tipi (Nugan), its meaning to the Ute Indians, and tipi etiquette; life zones and the plants used by the Ute Indians for food, fiber and medicine and many other educational benchmarks for Social Studies and Science. The Garden is the product of a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Mesa State College, Colorado State University Extension and its Colorado Master Gardener program and the Northern Ute Indian Nation, Uintah and Ouray Reservation.
Itinerary for an Paleontology-themed “Learning Visit”
For a learning vacation with a Paleontology theme, visit Dinosaur Journey (part of the Museum of Western Colorado) in Fruita, where you may see paleontolgoists and volunteers preparing fossils that were discovered on BLM lands within the NCA. Then, head just down the road to the NCA to see the places where many of these fossils were discovered. Stop at Dinosaur Hill, where one of the Grand Valley’s first dinosaur skeletons was discovered and excavated in the early 1900s. A visit to Dinosaur Hill can be easily combined with a stop at the Fruita Paleontoloical Area, where you can take a 1 mile hike guided by interpretive paleontological signs. Finally, head west to Rabbit Valley and the Trail Through Time, where you can see real fossils jutting out of the rock along the trail. If you visit during the summer months, you may even catch paleontologists at work uncovering new scientific discoveries at the Mygatt-Moore quarry.