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The Voices of Bears Ears

Locals Perspectives on Bears Ears National Monument

Written by Visit Utah

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Abajo Mountains   |  Matt Gagnon

Spanning high-elevation peaks, wild plateaus, deep canyons and towering sandstone, Bears Ears National Monument is at the heart of southeastern Utah. These lands are imbued with layers of culture — layers of life. The only way to understand the depths of this landscape is to listen to the locals who connect with the land in their own distinct ways.

In this four-part series, meet:

  • Carol Talus, Navajo and Airbnb Experience Host
  • Dustin Randall, Guide and Adventurer
  • Adam Redd and Chase Murray, Cowboys
  • Nate Thomas and Jonathan Till, Archaeologists

As Jonathan Till says, "When you go visit a place, go there with a good feeling in your heart." When visiting this area, never forget that these lands are treasured ancestral homelands.

But they are also living communities, home to several Native American tribes, pioneer descendants, and a growing number of outdoors-oriented transplants who appreciate the tight-knit rural communities, traditional values and beautiful landscapes. Bears Ears National Monument is rich with experiences, but sparse when it comes to basic amenities and visitor resources outside of the nearby cities of BlandingBluff and Monticello. Please review our travel advisory for more information.

Ep. 1: The High Desert Adventurer

Bears Ears National Monument is not like the dramatic Zion or Yosemite national parks. While there’s beauty all around, it’s the layers of life and history that give definition to these lands. Local guide and adventurer Dustin Randall believes one of the best ways to see it is on a mountain bike.

With the monument’s few paved roads, biking accesses abundant remote and hidden secrets, nestled among the exposed rock and high-country setting. From 12,000 feet down to the shores of Lake Powell, hike, bike, climb and carefully explore the starkly beautiful and fragile lands of Utah’s Bears Ears.

Ep. 2: The Archaeologists

Layers of history and culture are visible on the landscape of Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. Thousands of fragile sites are spread across the rugged backcountry. Each artifact tells a centuries-old story that is part of a longer narrative with deep meaning for the area’s indigenous people.

Visit with respect and “with a good feeling in your heart,” as you’ll hear from Jonathan Till, archeologist and curator and Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum, and Nate Thomas, archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management.

Ep. 3: The Navajo

Carol Talus calls southeastern Utah her ancestral home. Living on the Navajo Nation, just outside of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, she welcomes visitors to her home using the Airbnb Experience platform. Talus shows what it’s like to visit a Navajo, or Diné, family at their home site. She also shares the land’s beauty.

With a guide and extra time to appreciate a place, according to Talus, beauty emerges from all around: before, behind, beside, below and above. There's also a story behind the scenery and the place. Follow Talus to hear the story from some of the earliest people of modern-day San Juan County.

Ep. 4: The Cowboys

There’s real solitude in ranching. Cowboys like Adam Redd and Chase Murray were raised on the wide-open lands of San Juan County and daily experience the kind of solitude and beauty that people from the city yearn for. Head out to the Indian Creek unit of Bears Ears National Monument for a glimpse of the storied lands and lifestyle of southeastern Utah ranchers.

It all started for Redd with the arrival of his great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather by way of Utah’s famed Mormon pioneer Hole-in-the-Rock Trail, a path blazed through hardship and sheer will. Murray says something gets inside you that makes you like his way of life. “It's hard to explain,” he says, “But it's something that gets in your blood.”

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