Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Master Plan

Canyons of the Ancients Sign

Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum, operated by the Bureau of Land Management, is Southwest Colorado’s premier archaeological museum. The Visitor Center and exhibits serve as the headquarters for Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and features 4,000 square feet of exhibits, first developed in 1988.

Studio Tectonic was engaged to develop an interpretive master plan to help reshape the dated displays. Services included assessing existing exhibit content and presentation to identify opportunities for refresh and replacement; identifying methods and messages that meaningfully connect visitors to the BLM’s mission and how the monument is managed; incorporating content that reflects input from the 29 affiliated Native American tribes to ensure that exhibits are culturally rich and appropriate; developing a plan for the creation of a highly interactive learning environment for families, retirees, and organized educational groups; providing immersive experiences that enhance respect for cultural heritage and stewardship; and creating a plan that provides visitors with information to encourage exploration of the monument.


The Bureau of Land Management


Cortez, CO


Cultural History

Land Use

Master Planning


Parks and Open Space

Science | Natural History | Technology

Visitor Center


Prime Meridian: Project Contract Lead

Sunset at Canyons of the Ancients

We still go back up to the archaeological site to pray and ask for their spiritual support.

That’s how important that site is to us.

We cherish it very much.

Our ancestors were there at one time and left their spiritual imprint.

Ernest Vallo, Sr., Acoma Pueblo

Painted Stone Bowl from Canyons of the Ancients Master Plan

Ceramic bowl from Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is between 1020 and 920 years old. It was cracked and then carefully repaired by its owner. Ancestral Puebloans pottery was prized throughout the region.

Ceramic canteen excavated from a small block-room pueblo inside Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. It is between 945 and 895 years old. Made in the shape of a dog or a badger, it once had fiber handles and was used for many years.

Badger Canteen Artifact from Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Artifact Images Bureau of Land Management

Perhaps among the ashes, sherds and crumbling walls we may find a strange and unexpected sort of wisdom.

Richard W. Lang, Archaeologist