2023 PCRG Summer Field Projects

Fieldwork Dates: June 7-14 (travel not included)
Location: Otero County, Colorado
Project Type: Excavation
Description: The Santa Fe Trail was a 1,200-mile commercial route that connected Franklin, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, between 1821 and 1880. The trail opened immediately following Mexican Independence and continued in operation until it was supplanted by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. In this project, PCRG crews will investigate the Vogel Canyon Slough site, which is about 25 miles south of La Junta. The site has been previously identified as a potential Santa Fe Trail-era stage stop dating to the mid-1870s. Participants will camp at a Forest Service campground and drive to the site daily and should expect to excavate most days.

Thanks for a great project!

Fieldwork Dates: June 26-July 1 (travel not included)
Location: San Juan National Forest, Pagosa Springs, CO
Project Type: Survey and Documentation
Description: The southern foothills of the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado—especially in the headwaters of the Piedra River—harbor extensive groves of bark-peeled ponderosa pines. Peeled ponderosas, also known as cambium trees, reflect Indigenous American harvesting of forest products for food, medicine, and craft production. PCRG’s 2023 peeled tree documentation project continues work begun in 2018. Participants will camp at a Forest Service Guard Station near the project area.

Thanks for a great project!

Fieldwork Dates: July 25-31 (travel not included)
Location: Saguache County, Colorado
Project Type: Excavation and Survey
Description: The Bunker site, on the North Branch of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail (OSNHT), has an occupational history that begins long before trappers and traders traversed between Santa Fe and Los Angeles in the mid-1800s. In addition to surveying and collecting data on potential trail routes that may be associated with the OSNHT, PCRG crews will conduct test excavations at the site focusing on American Indian deposits that appear to date to the Late Archaic period. Participants will camp a few miles from the site and should expect moderate hiking and excavation each day. Due to access restrictions for the camp, volunteers should plan on participating for the duration of the project although some exceptions may be made.

Thanks for a great project!

Fieldwork Dates: August 11-17 (travel not included)
Location: Routt National Forest, Grand County, CO
Project Type: Survey and Inventory
Description: PCRG will return to the Windy Ridge quartzite quarry near Rabbit Ears Pass for our third field season of research at the site. Windy Ridge contains nearly 190 quarry pits along with an extensive scatter of quarry debris in surrounding workshops that span hundreds of acres. This season, crews will survey south and east of the quarry and visit previously recorded sites and document new ones. Crews will camp at a nearby campground and drive to the trailhead each morning. Participants should be prepared to hike 3-5 miles each day at an elevation of about 9,000 ft.

Thanks for a great project!

Please click here to read important information prior to volunteering on a PCRG project. You can click here to learn more about what to expect when volunteering on a PCRG project.

PCRG membership is not required to participate in field projects but members do receive priority in the selection process. If you are not already a member and would like to be notified about project announcements please consider joining PCRG here. There is no cost to participate in a PCRG project.

Listed project date are the fieldwork dates. If participating in the entire project, plan to arrive the afternoon of the day prior to the fieldwork starts and depart the day after the fieldwork ends. For example, a project running June 14-18, you would arrive the afternoon of June 13 and plan to leave the morning of June 19.


This year we are again partnering with Scott Dersam and his team for the Beartooth Ecosystems Alpine Archaeological Research (BEAAR) Project in the Beartooth Wilderness of Montana. There will be three different projects this season, with the first starting in June. The sessions will involve extensive hiking at high-altitudes for the duration of each session. Please consider your own abilities prior to applying to this project. More details on each session and contact information is in the project description below.

BEAAR Project

Fieldwork Dates: June 30-July 4; August 7-20; September 1-4
Location: Beartooth Mountains, Montana
Project Type: Survey and Testing
Description: PCRG is again partnering with Scott Dersam for the Beartooth Ecosystems Alpine Archaeological Research (BEAAR) project for the 2023 field season. The BEAAR project will host three separate field sessions for the 2023 season. One (14-day) session will be in and around the High Lakes region in the Beartooth Wilderness of Montana, with two shorter ( 4-day & 5-day) sessions in the Bridger Mountains of Montana. These high-elevation ecosystems represent two different mountain environments; the Beartooth ecosystems are inundated with alpine lakes and whitebark pine groves between 9,000 and 11,000 feet above sea level, while the Bridger Range is an isolated range, with hanging basins and sparse lake features. Both Ranges are part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and host evidence of ancient activity spanning the Holocene from ~10,000 calYBP in the Late Paleoindian to the contact period no more than 250 years ago. For the 2023 season, the BEAAR Project will focus on new site recordation and pedestrian survey, as well as revisiting previously recorded sites for further analysis and documentation. More details about the project and each session can be found here. Volunteers should be prepared for hiking at high elevations and possibly inclement weather. Please consider your own abilities when applying for this project. Space is limited and not all applicants will be selected.

More details here. Please contact Scott Dersam with any questions and to apply for this project.

Health and Safety

All project volunteers and staff are required to have a Covid-19 vaccination in order to participate. This will not only protect the project participants but also will protect the integrity of the project. We respectfully ask you to stay home if you are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms prior to coming to the project.

PCRG has a comprehensive list of health and safety protocols to ensure the best experience of all participants. These are subject to change and some things, such as carpooling from camp to the project, will be determined on a project-by-project basis. Please contact Chris Johnston with any questions about the application process or our health and safety plan.

Join the PCRG Mailing List

Not a member but want to get notified of upcoming projects and events? You can sign up for our mailing list here, but please note, although membership is not required to participate in PCRG projects members do get priority when space is limited.