Archaeology and Trail Work in Dixie National Forest, Utah

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14280A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Discover ancient artifacts
  • Preserve trails and explore remote areas of the forest
  • Visit nearby Bryce or Zion on your day off


  • All meals and snacks
  • Group cooking gear
  • Equipment for the work project



DatesJul 20–26, 2014
StaffMike Kobar

Trip Overview

The Trip

From alpine meadows to red rock canyons, the Dixie National Forest boasts a diversity of life and true beauty that few areas can match. Adjacent to Bryce Canyon National Park, this area hosts a wide variety of vegetation and animal life. Here, mixed conifer forests of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir characterize the landscape in the higher elevations. Farther down, dramatic red-sandstone formations and pinon-juniper forests create a breathtaking backdrop. In other areas, cottonwoods, sycamore, maple, and oak are in evidence. The Dixie is known for elk, deer, bear, and numerous smaller animals. Birdwatchers will have ample opportunities, and wildflowers are abundant.

This trip will be the 15th Sierra Club service trip to Dixie, and the leader's 11th. We will be exploring the wilderness for areas where archaic cultures manufactured stone implements between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago. In addition to visiting an area of critical environmental concern, you will also get the satisfaction of performing work where it is badly needed.

The Project

We will split our time between two or more projects, spending approximately two days on each. The first project will involve looking for artifacts and archaeological surveying. Other projects will involve trail maintenance, rerouting, and changing of trail grades.

We will be working closely with a U.S. Forest Service Archaeologist and her crew and we'll be transported to some sections of the forest that are off-limits to visitors. This will give us the chance to both explore sections of the national forest not available to all and learn about much of the area from the knowledgeable staff. Although no experience is necessary, common sense, humor, and a good attitude are mandatory. Please advise the leader of special skills you may have (e.g., ability to operate small manual or power tools or heavy equipment, photography skills, construction skills, etc.).


We will meet in Cedar City, Utah. After brief introductions, we will caravan to our campsite for the week. The actual group campsite will be deep within the Powell District of the Dixie National Forest, about a 60-minute drive from Cedar City. Because this is a base camp service trip, once we have settled into camp, we will not move for the entire week. Parking is available at the site, and the only vehicles that are assigned parking are the commissary vehicles. Our first meal together will be dinner this evening.


Each workday we'll put in a full morning and most of an afternoon on our various assignments. Lunch, packed after breakfast by each participant, will be eaten in the field, which is wherever we happen to be at noon. At the end of the workday, participants not assigned to the day's cook crew are at leisure to hike the numerous trails nearby. We will have one day off to explore the area or just relax. Dixie's location makes for easy day trips to Zion, Cedar Breaks, or Bryce national parks -- on past trips these have been the major day-off destinations. We should be back in Cedar City by noon on the last day.



Getting There

Getting to the meeting point is responsibility of each participant. Commercial air, bus, and train transportation are available to Las Vegas, Nevada, or Salt Lake City, Utah. Cedar City is approximately a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, and a four-hour drive from Salt Lake City. Commuter flights and bus service are available to Cedar City. It is recommended that participants either rent an automobile and/or carpool from Las Vegas or Salt Lake City.

As soon as a complete list of participants is available, the leader will forward copies to all members to facilitate carpooling -- it's not just cost-effective, it will also make campsite parking easier, too. Airfare and other transportation costs are not included in the trip price.

Accommodations and Food

Our first meal will be dinner on the first day, and our last meal will be lunch on the final day. We will prepare the menu, avoiding foods to which participants are allergic. Beyond that, and within reasonable limits, we will focus on providing substantial and balanced meals, using mostly fresh foods. Trip members, under staff direction, will prepare all meals, while the trip staff will do food selection and food transport. Mealtimes and participant assignments to daily KP crews will be posted. If you have any meal suggestions, please send them to the leader. Drinking water will be available at the campsite.

Trip Difficulty

With its high elevation (6,000-9,000 feet), weather in the Dixie is unpredictable. Daytime temperatures will range from 70-90 degrees, but nighttime temperatures will drop to the 40s and 50s. Afternoon thunderstorms are possible in July. We plan to work four days and have one free day. In addition, our evening hours will be unstructured, except for those taking their turns on the cook crew.

It's strongly recommended that all participants have a recent tetanus booster. Most minor medical conditions shouldn't be an impediment to having a full and enjoyable experience.

Equipment and Clothing

The Forest Service will provide our work tools. The Sierra Club will provide commissary equipment, including pots, cooking utensils, and stoves.

The leader will provide a detailed equipment list to registered participants. While we all hope for dry, hot days and cool, clear nights, we have encountered rain and snow on past trips, so pack for three-season conditions.

Trip members are expected to furnish their own day pack, tent, and personal gear. You must also bring personal water containers, and you must carry three quarts of water with you at all times. Good boots and work gloves are essential.

A first-aid kit for emergencies will be available, but bring your own personal supply of moleskin, tape, aspirin, and bandages. Poison ivy is present; if you are susceptible, bring your own medication. You may wish to bring a "sunshower" for showering.



  • David Roberts, In Search of the Old Ones.
  • Stegner, Wallace, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian.
  • Abbey, Edward, Desert Solitaire.
  • Steen, Harold, Origins of the National Forest.



In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.



Mike Kobar has been staffing or leading Sierra Club service trips in the Southwest since 1991. He is married to a full-time artist. They have three kids and a dog and live on the Connecticut coast. Please feel free to contact him with any questions or concerns you may have about this trip.

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