Visitors traveling to the area of Bears Ears National Monument should be aware that the designation of monument status has not allowed for the United States 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 the area (including the land designated as Bears Ears National Monument and the smaller areas designated as Indian Creek National Monument and Shash Jaa 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 the Bears Ears area, which includes the Indian Creek and Shash Jaa units. Bears Ears FAQ [PDF].
Respect and Protect
The law of the land is to leave what you find in the ruins and with the ancient artifacts. Enjoy it by viewing and photographing it, and note that touching these things accelerates the erosion process.
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 against state and federal law.
There is no official visitor center in the area, thought these places will have information on visiting areas within and around the monument and current conditions.
Kane Gulch BLM Ranger Station
36 miles west of Blanding
March 1–June 15, September 1–October 31
8 a.m.–noon, 7 days a week
The Kane Gulch Ranger Station is located along Utah Highway 261 about four miles south of Highway 95, not far from Natural Bridges National Monument
BLM Field Office, Visitor and Permit Information
365 North Main, Monticello, UT 84535
8 a.m.–noon, Monday–Friday
Blanding Visitor Center
12 North Grayson Parkway, Blanding, UT 84511
Travelers on the Indian Creek Corridor Scenic Byway (S.R. 211) to The Needles District of Canyonlands may find visitor information within Canyonlands or at the Needles Outpost, in season.
The BLM has developed georeferenced maps compatible with any georeferenced map mobile application. These work without cell coverage and are perfect for remote adventure. Find instructions and the latest available maps (Look under Utah, then Monticello)
Weather and Climate
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. Much of this area is high desert country, often exceeding 6,000 feet above sea level on the plateau. Carry plenty of water at all times and know your limits. For more information on packing for outdoor adventure in Utah, see our Planning Ahead for Your Utah Adventure: Outdoors Tips for Three-Season Fun.
Permits, Fees and Roads
Permits and fees are currently required for several hikes in this area. Some permits are payable at the trailheads, others must be obtained from BLM field offices. Many of the dirt roads in this area are impassable when wet, snowy or muddy. Check at the visitor center or the ranger station before traveling into the backcountry. Permits are needed for both day and overnight trips, and backpackers must make advance reservations.
Mule Canyon/House on Fire requires a hiking permit, which is available at the trailhead. Beginning in March 2018, advance reservations for overnight trips in the Bears Ears area may be obtained on recreation.gov or the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. Please visit the BLM Cedar Mesa Permits webpage for more information. Note there are additional permitting sites on nearby Cedar Mesa.