Tips for Enjoying & Preserving Archaeological Sites

Archaeological sites and artifacts are integral to American history and sacred to Native Americans. By treading softly and leaving things as we find them, we show respect for those who came before us and those who will visit these places after us.


What you can do to protect ancient and sacred places

sherdLEAVE ALL ARTIFACTS: Keep discovery alive. Leave all artifacts where you find them so the next person can share the experience. It’s illegal to move or take any artifact, including historic trash, from public lands. Watch the video here.



petroglyphDON’T TOUCH ROCK ART OR MAKE YOUR OWN: Vandalism of petroglyphs and pictographs erases stories of ancient people and destroys the experience for future visitors.



ruinSTEER CLEAR OF WALLS: Historic and prehistoric structures can be easily damaged. Please refrain from touching, leaning, standing or climbing on any structures, no matter how solid they look. Watch the video here.



kidTEACH KIDS RESPECT: Archaeological sites are not playgrounds. Please teach children respect. Keep a close eye so kids don’t get hurt or accidentally damage the site. Watch the video here. 



dogDOGS ARE BEST OUTSIDE: Keep pets leashed away from archaeology where they won’t dig, poop or cause erosion inside a cultural site. Watch the video here.



campCAMP & EAT OUTSIDE THE SITE: Camping, fires and food can damage the archaeological remains and also spoil the view for other visitors. Watch the video here.



cairnAVOID BUILDING CAIRNS: Keep the landscape natural by leaving only footprints. Cairns can increase impacts on sensitive sites and are frequently constructed with artifacts like grinding, construction or shrine stones. Watch the video here.



USE RUBBER TIPS: A rubber tip prevents your hiking pole from scratching and scarring subtle rock art on the ground surface. Watch the video here.



PAY YOUR FEES: It may not seem like much, but your small fee helps support important monitoring, enforcement, and amenities like toilets.



LEARN LOCAL FIRE REGS: Remember to check when and where fires are allowed. Where fires are allowed, use existing fire rings or bring your own fire pan into the backcountry.



GO TO THE BATHROOM AWAY FROM SITES: …Because no one likes finding toilet paper in a cliff dwelling. Bury human waste and carry out the toilet paper.



LEAVE GRINDING TO THE PAST: Re-grinding in slicks and grooves removes ancient patinas left by those who created them. Please refrain from touching or using grinding slicks.  Watch the video here.



DON’T BUST THE CRUST: Stay on existing trails and routes to protect the living cryptobiotic soil. Once stepped on, this fragile crust takes years to regrow.



GPS REVEALS TOO MUCH: GPS points often lead uneducated visitors to sensitive sites. When posting online about your trip, remove all references to location.



STAY ON DESIGNATED ROADS: Use existing roads when traveling to cultural sites. Driving off-road can create new routes on top of fragile archaeology and ecosystems.



ENJOY ARCHAEOLOGY WITHOUT ROPES: The use of climbing gear like ropes to access archaeological sites is illegal. This protects delicate archaeology from damage caused by falling rocks and looting.



HISTORIC ARTIFACTS AREN’T TRASH: Leave historic artifacts like rusted cans right where they are. They help interpret the past and show how people lived. Watch the video here.