Revisiting Forest Canyon Pass

I went hiking at Forest Canyon pass today. It is one of the most beautiful yet accessible places in Rocky Mountain National Park. The saddle dips between Trail Ridge and the continental divide. A dozen small tributaries join in the bottom of Forest Canyon and run southeast parallel the divide; these are the Big Thompson headwaters. On the other side of the saddle, the Cache la Poudre winds its way north from Milner Pass.

2008 - Heading of to survey in the morning mist.

Humans have been using the pass for millennia. In 2008, UNC contracted with RMNP to collect environmental and archaeological data to model landscape use over the past 11,000. Dr. Bob Brunsiwg and Dr. Jim Doerner designed the project to link the pass cultural landscape with the pass’s paleoenvironment and patch ecology. The crew was efficient – mainly of close friends I had worked with before. In addition to archaeological survey, we collected cores from a number of small alpine wetlands for paleobotanical and paleoclimatic analysis.

2008 - A beautiful little base

One of the most rewarding parts of surveying in a National Park is that I can revisit places I worked. I had a wonderful opportunity to take my nephews to the pass today; I could tell them all about its environmental history and how people moved across the landscape long ago.

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Categories: Forest Canyon Pass, Prehistoric Archaeology

Author:Doug Inglis:

I study the archaeology of seaborne exploration and contact. I am passionate about public history and outreach, and write about nautical archaeology at

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