House Rules for Visiting Archeological Sites in Southeast Utah

two people look at a round tower constructed of stones


The parks of the Southeast Utah Group contain sacred areas and ancestral homeland of over thirty traditionally associated American Indian tribes. The parks also contain sites important to descendants of non-indigenous immigrant settlers. Help the National Park Service preserve the cultural heritage of these communities by following these eleven simple rules — just like when you visit your grandma's house...

  • Visit only where you are invited.
    In order to ensure the survival of these places, the park can only allow public visitation at cultural sites that can withstand the cumulative impacts caused by such traffic. When in doubt, please inquire at a park's visitor center about which sites are approved for public visitation.
  • Don't go where you haven't been invited.
    When you encounter a site that is not on the public visitation list, enjoy it from a safe distance but do not enter or walk across the site. National Park Service regulations prohibit the public from entering these sites because they are either too fragile to enter or culturally taboo to visit. Please consider the challenges faced in protecting such resources, and the injury caused by the careless disregard of house rules. Help protect the sense of wonder experienced when encountering an unlisted site by not takting or posting site coordinates or geotagged photographs on social media.
  • Keep your feet off the furniture and never rearrange it.
    Cultural sites, even those designated as places to tour, are very fragile. Walk carefully and stay on established trails or durable surfaces like exposed bedrock. Don't rearrange rocks on a site, even if they appear to be displaced. Avoid leaning or sitting on walls of any height.
  • Look but don't touch.
    Oils from your skin damage pictographs (rock paintings) and petroglyphs (rock carvings). Never deface rock writing or grinding areas by scratching or rubbing the rock surface. It is illegal, destroys irreplaceable information about the past, and is disrespectful to others. Graffiti is vandalism!
light colored petroglyphs carved through a darker rock layer


  • Eat outside, not in the living room.
    Eating in archeological sites is strictly prohibited because crumbs attract rodents that may nest within the site. Make sure that you pick up and carry out all of your trash and garbage.
  • Don't steal anything.
    Many indigenous people understand these places to still be in use by their ancestors, so please don't wreck their houses or take their possessions. Leave all artifacts—including small fragments of pottery and stone chips—right where you find them. Don't collect historic cans, bottles, or other evidence of cowboy or mining camps. We appreciate your help with keeping the parks tidy, but do not "clean up" any trash that could be older than 50 years.
  • No slumber parties.
    Camping or sleeping in or near archeological sites damages them and leaves a mess. Smoke from campfires stains walls and cliffs, and the charcoal can contaminate earlier site deposits.
  • Don't pee or poop in the parlor... or any other room.
    Never dig into the ground. Doing so might disturb fragile archeological deposits or destroy features and is illegal without an archeological permit. Human waste left at archeological sites is unsightly, unsanitary, and could contaminate cultural deposits used in archeological research. Remember to dispose of waste at least 200 feet from archaeological sites, dry washes, camps, trails, and water. Or better yet, pack it out!
a small piece of pottery with white and black decorations among rocky debris


  • Listen and learn from your host.
    Ask questions like: Why were people here? How did they interact with the land? What did they eat or drink? Bring any questions you have back to the park's visitor center.
  • Join the Neighborhood Watch.
    Let a ranger know if you see a disturbance on a site that looks fresh and manmade, or if you see someone digging, defacing park resources with graffiti, surface collecting, or metal detecting. Do not approach people engaged in illegal activities; instead, take pictures if possible and report your observations to a ranger as soon as you can.
  • Most importantly – BE RESPECTFUL.
    Many sites are sacred or culturally important. Think about how you'd like someone else to act around your ancestors or when visiting your home or place of worship.

Thanks for being a courteous guest!

a cliff dwelling in a red rock pocket above a valley


Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument

Last updated: November 13, 2023