A Nonprofit Research and Education Organization

Fieldwork Opportunities

PCRG is offering a wide variety of volunteer projects in 2018, ranging from high-altitude surveys to Plains Village excavations. Projects are slated for New Mexico, Colorado, and North Dakota. Projects posted on this page represent a partial list; additional projects will be posted as details are finalized.

There is no charge for participation and PCRG will provide all meals. However, we encourage project participants become PCRG members. Members receive early access to the online project sign-up system, along with an annual publication describing PCRG research and discounts on selected PCRG publications. Click here for more information about PCRG membership.

We will begin accepting volunteer applications through the online system on the dates listed under each project. Current PCRG members will receive an email containing a link to the sign-up system approximately one week before the posted date. If the crew roster fills up, volunteers will be placed on a waitlist and will be contacted directly if a position becomes available. 

If you have questions about project logistics or about the online sign-up system, please contact Britni Rockwell at Britni.Rockwell@Paleocultural.org or at (303) 439-4098.

Click here for general information about PCRG projects.

Interdisciplinary Research at the La Botica Site, Conejos County, Colorado

Schedule: June 3—June 11

Volunteer Participants: 12

Click here to sign up!

Located in the spectacular La Jara Canyon, the La Botica site—Spanish for “the pharmacy”—is an exceptionally large and complex archaeological site that preserves a unique record of American Indian lifeways spanning 8,000 years. The site is also an important locality for the San Luis Valley's Hispano residents, who gathered medicinal plants there in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. PCRG will lead an interdisciplinary team of botanists, paleoecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and geologists in a week-long investigation to gather baseline data on the site and its setting. Project activities will include botanical inventory, archaeological testing, site mapping, soil sampling, and dendrochronology.

Project participants will camp near the site and high-clearance vehicles will be required to access the camp. Project activities will be strenuous, including a challenging two-mile roundtrip hike from the camp to the site each day. The crew will carry equipment and samples to and from the site.

Magic Mountain Site Excavation, Golden, Colorado

Schedule: June 19—June 27 (Session 1) and July 5—July 15 (Session 2)

Volunteer Participants: 16 (Research Excavation); 24 (Tour Guide); 12 (Public Excavation)

Click here to sign up!

The Magic Mountain site, located in a hogback valley south of Golden, Colorado, is well known for its stratified Middle and Late Holocene record. For decades following the 1966 publication of Cynthia Irwin-Williams and Henry Irwin’s landmark monograph, data from the site were crucial for systematizing the archaeological record of the South Platte basin. To better understand the nature of the Early Ceramic period occupation at Magic Mountain, as well as the structure of the regional settlement system, in 2016 the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) and PCRG initiated a multi-year, inter-disciplinary public archaeology project at the site. Testing conducted in 2017 revealed extensive intact Early Ceramic period cultural deposits and features, as well as deeply buried Archaic deposits. In 2018, the crew will continue the investigation of the site’s extensive Early Ceramic occupation.

Public education is a critical component of the Magic Mountain project. During the 2017 field investigation nearly 1,000 visitors toured the site. This year, we will again be recruiting volunteer tour guides. Guides should have a general understanding of and enthusiasm for archaeology, but no previous knowledge about the site is required. We also are recruiting volunteers to help supervise a hands-on public excavation that will take place during the project. Excavation experience is required and archaeology education experience is preferred for these positions.

Archaeological Site Evaluation on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, Jackson County, Colorado

Schedule: July 23—July 31

Volunteer Participants: 18

Click here to sign up!

Prior surveys in northeastern Jackson County, Colorado have documented a large cluster of prehistoric camps and lithic quarries ranging in age from Paleoindian to Late Prehistoric. To better understand the age and function of these sites, PCRG will carry out a multi-site testing and evaluation project. Project participants will camp adjacent to a Forest Service work center located close to the Colorado-Wyoming border. Restrooms and running water may be available at the work center.

Additional detail on this project will be posted online in March or April.

Molander State Historic Site Geophysical Survey and Archaeological Testing, Oliver County, North Dakota

Schedule: August 3—16, 2018

Volunteer Participants: 14

Online Sign-Up Begins: April 30

In August, PCRG, the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and Oklahoma State University will continue work begun during 2017 at Molander State Historic Site, an eighteenth-century ancestral Awaxawi Hidatsa community located on the west bank of the Missouri north of Price, North Dakota. Geophysical surveys and aerial photogrammetry carried out in 2017 helped define the site’s major features. The goal of the 2018 project will be to achieve a better understanding of the occupation history, overall layout, and current condition of the site and to begin development of interpretive products that will help the public learn about the site and the process of archaeological research. Project activities will include limited test excavation, geophysical survey, and systematic coring.

Additional details on this project will be posted online in April.

Culturally Modified Tree Survey on the San Juan National Forest, Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Schedule: August 24—30, 2018

Volunteer Participants: 10

Online Sign-Up Begins: April 30

In August, PCRG will continue its study of culturally modified trees (CMTs) in the Colorado high country. This year’s project will investigate multiple CMT groves located northwest of Pagosa Springs. The highest density of CMTs is found in this portion of the state and PCRG’s project will add significantly to the regional database. The crew will camp near a Forest Service guard station. Participants should plan to arrive before supper on August 24. Fieldwork will occur over a five-day period. August 30 will be a travel day.

Additional details on this project will be posted online in April.

Miranda Valley Survey on the Carson National Forest, Taos, New Mexico

Schedule: September 2018 (dates to be determined)

Volunteer Participants: 10

Online Sign-Up Begins: April 30

PCRG will continue documentation of historic trail routes in Miranda Valley, in the western foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, south of Taos, New Mexico. Miranda Valley was the location of one of the most important Spanish roads from Santa Fe to Taos. During 2017, PCRG documented numerous historic trails, along with artifact scatters dating to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, lithic raw material quarries, and ancestral Pueblo habitation sites.

Additional details on this project will be posted online in April.

High-Altitude Survey in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness, Jackson County, Colorado

Schedule: September 1—6, 2018

Volunteer Participants: 6

Online Sign-Up Begins: April 30

Research in the Front Range, including the Indian Peaks Wilderness and Rocky Mountain National Park, has shown that American Indian groups exploited resources in the alpine tundra ecozone throughout the middle and late Holocene. The Mount Zirkel Wilderness on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests contains many of the same resources. However, archaeological inventory above timberline has never been attempted there. In addition, permanent snowfields occur in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness, which have the potential to preserve ancient archaeological and paleontological specimens. In 2018, PCRG and the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests will conduct a high-altitude survey in the headwaters of Big Creek. Project participants will camp at timberline and survey portions of the Continental Divide and adjacent valleys.

This project will be strenuous. Participants will transport their personal equipment to the base camp, which is approximately 4 miles from the trailhead and parking area. Survey will occur at elevations ranging from about 10,000 to 12,000 ft.

Additional details on this project will be posted online in April.