Be sure to follow the first link to the full article on Range Creek, Utah. It is long and detailed. This is an ‘unimproved’ area that is probably only suited those with a hard-core fascination with the Fremont culture. mjh
Salt Lake Tribune – An open range of treasures By Brett Prettyman, The Salt Lake Tribune
The Fremont were believed to have lived in the Southwest between 700 and 1350 A.D. Some archaeologists believe as many as 600 Fremont may have called Range Creek Canyon home at the peak of their storied history. By 1500, the Fremont people had vanished. Not until some 400 years later are there records of inhabitants finding Range Creek. Cattle were run in the area starting in 1885 and the first homesteaders arrived in 1915.
Range Creek was purchased by Ray Wilcox in 1951 from Preston Nutter. The Wilcox family ran cattle on the land until Ray’s son, Waldo Wilcox, sold his 1,600 acres along Range Creek for $2.5 million in 2001. While they collected some artifacts, the Wilcox family had protected the overall canyon from outsiders for five decades.
The canyon opened to the public in 2004 and it was not long before officials announced the first known case of looting. Two stone blades and a pottery fragment went missing in summer of 2004.
Therein lies the biggest problem in protecting the countless items left by the Fremont in Range Creek Canyon.
Duncan Metcalfe, curator of archaeology with the Utah Museum of Natural History and lead Range Creek researcher, says only 8 to 10 percent of the canyon has been surveyed, but that small portion turned up 350 sites – everything from unsealed granaries to massive petroglyph panels to a quiver of arrows tucked into a crack in the cliff wall. The real discoveries will come when archeologist take a shovel to the pit houses, something yet to happen in Range Creek. …
Visitors are only allowed to hike or ride horses in the canyon during daylight hours and some of the most amazing sites are deep within Range Creek. Most only make it about 4 miles into the canyon before turning around. Walking down the road from the gate, at 7,000 feet, is easy, but the return is all uphill. Camping is prohibited within the canyon, but is allowed at the gate.
There is an easier alternative. Several guiding companies are offering tours of Range Creek. The guides, when accompanied by a [Utah Division of Wildlife Resources] volunteer, are also allowed to drive the entire 14 miles of the road. The only other vehicles allowed in the canyon are for administrative purposes.
Salt Lake Tribune – Range Creek’s untouched archaeological area ‘a national treasure’ By Greg Lavine, The Salt Lake Tribune
Range Creek will not win any beauty contests, but for sheer archaeological value, it may stand alone.
“Simply stated, Range Creek Canyon shares many similarities with the world-famous Nine Mile Canyon just to the north, but without the 100 years of overt vandalism, visitor wear and tear, and the impacts of intensive ranching,” researchers wrote in a proposal to survey the Book Cliffs site. …
“We are united in our opinion that the archaeology of Range Creek is a national treasure and are committed to doing everything possible to protect it,” said Duncan Metcalfe, curator of archaeology with the Utah Museum of Natural History and a lead researcher at Range Creek….
Range Creek is as close to mint condition as archaeologists are likely to find these days. “We feel like this is an amazing opportunity to work here,” Barlow said.