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  • Celebrating National Park Week

    Karen Gust Schollmeyer, Preservation Archaeologist
    Karen Schollmeyer

    (April 19, 2017)—Happy National Park Week! This week, April 15–23, is a nationwide celebration of these public lands and the cultural and natural heritage they protect. Many of us here at Archaeology Southwest spend a lot of time in national parks (and monuments too). Our work takes us to beautiful places that preserve irreplaceable elements of our nation’s history. We’re also drawn to these open spaces and natural beauty when it’s time to rest and recharge in our free time.

    As part of the festivities this week, every national park is offering free admission on the weekends of April 15–16 and 22–23. I hope our staff’s photos and memories of time we’ve spent in national parks and monuments around the Southwest provide some inspiration for celebrating this week in a park near you.

    Find a park in your state or more information at the National Park Week web page. Click on any image in this post to enlarge it.

    Mesa Verde Mesa Verde Cliff Palace

    Square Tower House and Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. I got to spend some time here recently while collecting plant samples for an animal bone chemistry project. Archaeologists (and all scientists) must go through a rigorous application process many months in advance to request permission to conduct research on national parks, but the results are worth it. Visiting for pure enjoyment, of course, is open to anyone. Images: Karen Schollmeyer
    El Malpais National Monument
    Sandstone overlook, El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico. UGPA 2016 student Patrick Depret-Guillaume takes in sweeping views of an ancient lava field. Image: Leslie Aragon

    El Morro Evan, Lewis, Leslie El Morro

    El Morro National Monument, New Mexico. Evan Giomi, Lewis Borck, and Leslie Aragon catch their breath on the top of the bluff en route to Atsinna Pueblo and the monument’s hundreds of petroglyphs and historic inscriptions. Images: Karen Schollmeyer

    Chimney Rock Chimney Rock

    Chimney Rock National Monument, Colorado. The fine masonry at this archaeological site reveals its connections to Chaco Canyon. Images: Paul Reed
    Grand Teton
    Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Several of our former Preservation Archaeology Field School students have gone on to work for the National Park Service. Here, 2016 alumnus Daniel Agudelo hoists a screen full of sediment to sift for artifacts. Image: Nancy Fernandez

    Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. I spent a memorable day hiking here to unwind after attending a conference nearby. This planned “alone time” quickly turned into a series of enjoyable trailside conversations with other visitors from all over the world as we stopped to photograph the amazing views. Image: Karen Schollmeyer
    Arches National Park
    Arches National Park
    Arches National Park, Utah. Alexandra Covert (UGPA 2014) has worked in a number of national parks since her field school days (Image: Chris Covert). Kathleen Bader enjoys visiting and photographing parks around the country (and her skills as design coordinator show in her artistic photographs).
    Canyonlands Alex
    Canyonlands National Park
    Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Alex’s work for the National Park Service has included some of the Southwest’s most beautiful places, like Island in the Sky at Canyonlands (Image: Chris Covert). This park preserves an incredible open landscape that includes many archaeological sites and natural formations (Image: Kathleen Bader).

    Casa Grande Allen movie Casa Grande Allen path

    Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Arizona. Allen Denoyer has worked on several projects at this monument, including producing items for the movie shown at the visitor center (shown here during filming), and making improvements to the walkways for site visitors. Images: Allen Denoyer

    Canyon de Chelley - white house Paul Canyon de Chelly

    Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. This monument preserves Ancestral Pueblo and Navajo archaeological and historic sites and some of the Southwest’s most iconic scenery, including White House (Image: Paul Reed) and this canyon overlook (Image: Kathleen Bader).

    Chaco Canyon 

    Chaco Katie Field School Staff at Chaco

    Chaco Culture National Historic Park, New Mexico. This is a favorite field school trip every year. 2014 students enjoy the view from the Pueblo Bonito overlook on the Pueblo Alto trail (Image: Leslie Aragon); 2016 student Katie Jacobson photographs Hungo Pavi (Image: Karen Schollmeyer); 2016 field school staff at the park entrance (Image: Kaiti Cometa).

    Death Valley Kathleen Death Valley Andy

    Death Valley National Park, California. This park offers another stunning southwestern landscape for family hiking trips (Image: Andy Laurenzi) and simply enjoying the views (Image: Kathleen Bader).
    Gila Cliff Dwellings
    Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, New Mexico. Preservation Archaeology Field School 2015 students Joe Hall, Alec Ballesteros, Dushyant Naresh, Monica Veale, and Connor Walsh explore a series of 14th-century buildings in the shelter of the cliff. Image: Leslie Aragon
    Petrified Forest

    Petrified Forest Alex Petrified Forest Max

    View of the Painted Desert at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. My husband and I take a trip to this park together every few years (Image: David Schollmeyer). Several of our former field school students have enjoyed working here, including Max Forton (shown here recording rock art) and Alex Covert (holding a projectile point found on a park survey).

    Aztec West Paul Aztec West Max

    Aztec West, Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico. This Ancestral Pueblo site includes the spectacularly preserved ancient buildings shown here, along with a very evocative reconstructed Great Kiva (Image: Paul Reed). Max Forton enjoyed another NPS internship at this monument.

    Organ Pipe Organ Pipe Leslie

    Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona. This monument encompasses enough archaeological sites to make a survey crew a little loopy; here, Leslie Aragon takes a break with the rest of the University of Arizona Archaeology Survey crew (Image: Maren Hopkins). The park also preserves a unique plant community (Image: Kathleen Bader).

    Tumacacori Leslie
    Tumacacori National Historical Park, Arizona. Leslie Aragon supervises test excavations with the University of Arizona Mission Guevavi Archaeological Field School. Image: Jeremy Moss

    Wupatki Pueblo 2011 Wukoki Pueblo

    Doug and Ella at Wupatki
    Wupatki Pueblo and Wukoki Pueblo, Wupatki National Monument, Arizona. I visited this area on the way home from a trip to the Hopi mesas to learn about traditional farming techniques, an experience that forever changed the way I look at desert arroyo bottoms and alluvial fans (Images: Karen Schollmeyer). In 2013, Doug Gann showed his daughter how the “blowhole” works—see if you can spot her hat (Image: Kate Sarther Gann).

    Grand Canyon Grand Canyon

    Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. I’ve been visiting this park since childhood, and just took my own kids for their first visit. Repeated visits to favorite parks shaped my identity as an Arizonan, and people across the country have similar feelings about parks in their home states. Images: David Schollmeyer

    Perry Mesa Perry Mesa

    Perry Mesa, Agua Fria National Monument, Arizona. In graduate school I spent a lot of time on this monument with a collaborative archaeology-ecology project, studying how human activities centuries ago shaped the monument’s habitats in ways that still influence plant and animal distributions there today. Left: Biologist Chien Lai prepares to release a mouse he just weighed and measured from our live trapping line (Image: Karen Schollmeyer). Right: Chien and I measure the canopy of a dormant catclaw acacia (Image: Melissa Kruse).
    Pecos Pueblo
    Pecos Pueblo, Pecos National Historic Park, New Mexico. Doug Gann takes the ultimate selfie during a photogrammetry project documenting pre- and post-contact architecture at the mission and pueblo.

    Saguaro National Park Saguaro National Park

    Saguaro National Park, Arizona. Here in Tucson, Saguaro is our local national park, and several of us at the office visit often with our families. Here, my daughters’ Girl Scout troop enjoys a trip to the park to study local plants and animals (Image: Audrey Kanekoa-Madrid). The adult hiking experience includes longer treks to some truly majestic views (Image: Andy Laurenzi).

    Andy Big Bend Andy Big Bend


    Andy Grand Staircase Andy Olympic


    Andy Olympic Andy Sequoia

    Andy Laurenzi’s preservation career has taken him to many special places, but he also enjoys taking family trips to some of our most beautiful public lands in his free time. Big Bend National Park (TX); Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument (UT); Olympic National Park (WA); and Sequoia National Park (CA).

    Did you know? Some national monuments are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), rather than the National Park Service. Grand Staircase-Escalante and Agua Fria are among those managed by the BLM. Chimney Rock is managed by the San Juan National Forest.


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