Site Ethics and Care

When you visit an archaeological site, please be aware that archaeological sites are unique cultural resources that are easily damaged. Do your part in preserving what our forebears, particularly those of New Mexico’s Indigenous communities created.

The term “ sites” includes sites of both historic and prehistoric age. Most are not open to the public. Preserving archaeological sites helps ensure that future generations can also enjoy and learn from them. Because they are extremely fragile and easily damaged, please don’t sit, stand, lean on or climb on walls or other archaeological features

Follow the rule of “take only pictures and leave only footprints.” If you don’t own the land, you must have the owner’s permission to be there, and artifacts are not yours for the taking. Leave all artifacts where they are. Removing artifacts from an archaeological site is illegal. On some Federal and State lands, even the removal of plants is illegal. Be sure to read the guidelines for the sites you visit since each site might be protected by different laws.

Digging for any reason at an archaeological site on state or federal land without a permit is illegal.

Stay on established trails to protect fragile vegetation and prevent erosion.

Refrain from tracing, touching, climbing on or using water on rock art. These activities can cause permanent damage and could prevent dating as new methods to date rock imagery are developed. Chalking petroglyphs or wetting pictographs to get a better photograph is vandalism.

State and Federal Laws protect all archaeological sites on public land.