The Dolores River Valley has a long record of human culture and is particularly rich in the remains of the Anasazi culture. Because the Anasazi occupied the lands within the Dolores Project, it was recognized early in planning the Dolores Project that extraordinary measures would be needed to locate and recover scientific archaeological data which would be lost or destroyed through project construction. The Dolores Project Cultural Resources Mitigation Program is one of the largest archaeological projects ever undertaken by either the private or public sector. Archaeological work began in 1972, prior to construction of McPhee Dam.
Teams from the University of Colorado, Washington State University, and a contractor, Complete Archaeological Services have recovered several million artifacts from the reservoir site and canal excavations. The Anasazi Heritage Center was built by the Bureau of Reclamation as part of the Dolores Project. Artifacts recovered are stored and displayed in the Center which also serves as a museum and curation and research facility.
The Bureau of Land Management operates the Anasazi heritage Center.