Utah's newest Government and Recreation industry owned property to serve your outdoor acitivties buzz.
Bears Ears is the newest national monument located in San Juan County in southeasstern Utah. The monument covers an unprecidented 1.35 million acres in size, including about 1 million acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and 290,000 acres managed by the US Forest Service. The monument borders Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and surrounds Natural Bridges National Monument.
The monument is named Bears Ears for a pair of buttes that rise to an elevation of 8,700 feet (2,700 m), more than 2,000 feet (610 m) above the surrounding Colorado Plateau. The Bears Ears is said to hold sacred Navajo grounds and ruins which will lead to more archeological research. Ancestral Publoan cliff dwellings dated to more than 3,500 years ago have been discovered in the region, just some of the estimated hundreds of archaeological sites protected within the monument.
On December 28, 2016, President Obama proclaimed the 1,351,849 acres Bears Ears National Monument, including the buttes and the surrounding landscapes, using his authority under the Antiquities Act to create national monuments by proclamation.The Salt Lake Tribune reported that reactions to the monument's designation ranged "from scathing to celebratory" within the state. The designation was praised by the coalition of Native Americans and environmentalists who have led the campaign to protect the land. Navajo Nation President wrote that the president's decision will "protect this land as a national monument for future generations of Navajo people and for all Americans," while collaborative land management provisions "strengthened the relationship between our Navajo and American nations."
Even through all the controversary of the monument and how to approach this land, the Bears Ears region whether it stands as a monument or not is a beautiful place for recreating. This land was public land before the monument and used by hundreds of locals and thousands of visitors a year. You can find opportunities for Camping, hiking, fishing, backpacking, photographing, canyoneering, backcountry travel, ATV riding and so on. While the politicians hash it out we will continue to use the land and recreate in the beautiful scenery.
For those that are familiar with the area and the surroundings you know how wonderful and pristine the back country region is here. Thousands of years of stewardship over the land has gone into play to keep it that way. As locals we not only recreate on the land, we use the resources to live off of from gathering firewood to the native american's gethering herbs and ceremonial plants to keep their traditions alive. This land has been protected and served by those who use it. We know that the monument deisgnation will increase visitation to this area to see it's beauty and we encourage all to keep the land as sacred as it has been for hundreds of year.
Visitors traveling to the area today should be aware that the recent designation of monument status has not allowed for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to develop their management plan, nor create new services or facilities. Don’t expect the same level of infrastructure as Arches, Canyonlands or Zion national parks. Much of the land in Bears Ears National Monument is rugged, wild and remote, requiring greater preparation, fitness and respect on the part of the visitor. Additional care needs to be taken around the numerous archaeological sites in the area. The Bureau of Land Management and Tread Lightly’s “Respect and Protect” ethic should be the mindset for anyone traveling to Bears Ears.
When visiting sensitive archaeological, paleontological, and other natural resources on federal, state, and tribal lands, always visit with respect. To help visitors understand the importance of these incredible sites, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Utah State Office and Tread Lightly! partnered to develop and implement a statewide public awareness campaign called “Respect and Protect” to engage the public in the stewardship of our nation’s priceless cultural and natural heritage. The campaign also reminds public lands visitors that looting and vandalism of archaeological and paleontological resources on federal, state, and tribal lands is still against state and federal law as it has been for several decades now.
The area is approximately 5 minutes southwest of Blanding.
The best time to go is March through mid-June and September through October. The heat of July and August can exceed 100 degrees in some areas, and there are also monsoons, which can bring flash floods.
While we might be just a bit biased, we truly believe that the best and safest way to experience the area is to hire a guide to lead you to the sites and locations. The country in San Juan County and the Bears Ears Monument region is rough an unforgiving. There are no services in most of the monument including cell phone service. If you get lost you will be lost until someone realizes you are lost. Plan accordingly. Guides from the local area know the backcountry and where they are going. They know how to safely travel and how to return. They know how to respect the archeological sites and may know many places or things about locations you won't find in any guide book. Guides are worth their cost in this remote wilderness.
At North Wash Outfitters we have been guiding this area for over a decade now and we offer several guided trip packages into this pristine area. We love to show it off and show others how to respect the land and the surrounding area. Keep in mind, this is still back country travel. While there are trails and routes that have been developed, they are still somewhat arduios and at times tough. Good physical condition is still required to hike in this area. This is not your typical National Park with paved trails.
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