The Grand Canyon, one of Earth's most awe-inspiring natural wonders, captivates the hearts of millions of visitors each year. Its vastness and beauty are undeniable, but beneath the towering cliffs and the curving Colorado River lies a cultural and spiritual heritage deeply intertwined with the history of the indigenous tribes that have called this place home for centuries.

When we visit Grand Canyon, we are guests in a place that holds profound significance for many indigenous communities. It is our responsibility to be mindful of our impact and to respect the land and its people. Thoughtful visitor behavior can make a significant difference in preserving the cultural and natural heritage of the Grand Canyon landscape. It is vital to respect the privacy of these communities and their sacred sites and understand that some locations may be completely off-limits to visitors.

We encourage guests to learn about the tribal communities and understand the significance of the places they may visit on a river trip. When the engagement is respectful there can be a richer and more meaningful experience for visitors to Grand Canyon.

When our guides are bringing a group to tour archaeological sites, they will ensure that our guests are aware of and following the policies that are outlined for us by the National Park Service, but you should be aware of them for all archaeological sites you may visit in the future.

Keep these rules of etiquette in mind next time you are visiting any archaeological site, but especially in Grand Canyon:

  1. Plan ahead
    1. There are various levels of protection for sacred sites in Grand Canyon and you should understand the site’s expected etiquette before visiting.
    2. If you are unaware of the site-specific policies, proceed with maximum caution by following the rest of the rules closely.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
    1. Only camp on NPS-designated campsites
    2. Stick to designated trials (not social trials)
    3. Due to their age and exposure to erosion, archaeological sites are very fragile and most have never been stabilized. Please, walk carefully and avoid stepping on walls, artifacts, and any easily eroded slopes.
  3. Dispose of waste properly
    1. When it comes to food or human waste, we need to make sure we are disposing of waste at least 200ft from the archaeological sites, dry washes, camps, trails, and water.
  4. LEAVE what you found
    1. Refrain from unnecessary handling of artifacts
    2. Do not move artifacts around or remove ANY artifacts from any sites. It is illegal to be in possession of artifacts and natural objects in a national park.
    3. Do not touch! The oils from your hands can degrade pigments and rock surfaces of these important sites.
  5. Be Considerate of other visitors
    1. As we all learned as children, leave it how you found it, if not better.
    2. Think about the next person, you do not want to leave trash or diminish the experience and integrity of the place you are visiting…if you do see trash, please pick it up and hike it out. We can all help preserve Grand Canyon’s archaeological sites.

Our presence in Grand Canyon is an opportunity to learn and appreciate the enduring legacies of the 11 modern-day indigenous tribes that maintain the connection to these archaeological sites that are directly linked to their history and ancestors. Each of us should focus on being responsible stewards of this remarkable place. We want our actions to have a positive and lasting impact for generations.

Grand Canyon is not just a place of natural beauty; it's a place of history, spirituality, and cultural significance. When we visit, we must do so with humility and respect. In this way, we can ensure that the Grand Canyon remains a living legacy for the indigenous tribes and a source of wonder and inspiration for all who come to experience its grandeur.

Back to Blog Home