What is Archeology?
Archeological research is based on the premise that elementary human needs for food, shelter, and social organization span time; archaeologists use careful methods to record and excavate sites, and to examine material remains that people left behind.
These remains reflect their individual cultures and by studying the remains we can learn about these early people. The study of the nonrenewable and fragile remains of past cultures instills awareness for the need to preserve and protect archaeological sites.
Archeology At Bighorn Canyon NRA
Much of the archeological work at Bighorn Canyon focuses on the Bad Pass Trail. This ancient trail led from the mouth of the Bighorn Canyon southward into the Bighorn Basin and eventually to the Wind River Mountains. This route served inhabitants of the region.
The rough country between the Pryor and Bighorn Mountains was an unlikely place for some of the earliest human inhabitants of North America. However, archaeologists using radiocarbon dating and other scientific methods have established that people lived in the vicinity at least 10,000 years ago and possibly as far back as 12,000 years ago.
To learn more about archaeological work on the Bad Pass Trail click on the following link:
Documenting Tipi Rings on the Bad Pass Trail
Help Protect Archeological Sites
Archeological sites, like other resources in the park, are protected under federal legislation. If you come upon archeological materials, do not remove, but report your findings to a park ranger, who will record this information. The locational information is very important to our understanding of the past human habitation of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.
Removal of artifacts from their location destroys essential information needed in order to study past humans. If you see anyone collecting or destroying archeological materials, please report this to park rangers.
Did You Know?
Prior to the completion of Yellowtail Dam, the Bighorn River was a muddy, warm water prairie stream. The dam transformed the river into a cold, clear tailwater ideally suited to rainbow and brown trout, and aquatic insects. The Bighorn River now draws visitors and anglers from around the globe. More...