Natural History Museum of Utah

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Range Creek Canyon Overview

Prehistory

Range Creek has been recognized as a national treasure because of the high density of virtually undisturbed prehistoric sites that have been found.  Nearly four hundred sites have been identified and recorded including granaries, rock art panels, ruins and artifact scatters.  Most of the sites are associated with the Fremont archaeological complex, a term used to describe Utah's earliest farmers who inhabited the region from about A.D. 300 - A.D. 1350.  Based on the results of radiocarbon dating it appears that prehistoric occupation of the canyon may have been particularly intense from A.D. 1000 - 1175, a time near the end of the Fremont Period.


The History of Range Creek 1885 - 2001

In 1884, Deputy U.S. Surveyor, Augustus Ferron discovered a small, perennial stream in a remote and unoccupied canyon on the plateau. He called the stream Ranch Creek. The following year, Ferron and four partners renamed the stream Range Creek and formed the Range Valley Cattle Company.  For 115 years this remote valley along Range Creek was devoted to cattle ranching.

 


Geography & Geology

Towering cliffs and steep unstable slopes make access to Range Creek difficult. The formidable features of the natural setting is undoubtedly part of the reason that the archaeological record is so well preserved but it also presents a challenge to researchers trying to gain access to the sites.

 

 


Plant Communities

From the headwaters of Range Creek at about 10,000 feet above sea level to its confluence with the Green River thirty miles and 6000 feet lower, Range Creek flows through several easily recognizable plant communities. Growing in each of these communities are edible wild plants that would have been part of the prehistoric diet.  

 

 


Wildlife

Range Creek is home to a variety of wildlife species, each living in the area best suited to their needs.  Learn more about the large & small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds that live in the Canyon.