On December 4, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to reduce and redraw Bears Ears National Monument, which contained the Indian Creek corridor. The proposal introduces two new monuments in this area named, north to south, Indian Creek National Monument and Shash Jaa National Monument. The 71,896-acre Indian Creek National Monument includes much of the Indian Creek Corridor Scenic Byway (S.R. 211) and Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument.
Driving down Indian Creek Corridor Scenic Byway, you'll find yourself frequently drawn to pull over to admire the scenery. The skies are big out here. Massive clouds gather and create dancing light and shadow across mesas and monoliths. This is the corner of Utah well known for the likes of Castle Valley and Monument Valley — names as grandiose as the places. The road itself leads to The Needles District of Utah's largest national park, Canyonlands. Even "Canyonlands" is highly evocative in its attempt to capture the multitudes of this carved and expansive landscape.
Travel Tips and Things to Do in Indian Creek National Monument
Photographers will quickly realize why Hollywood continues to point its cameras at these places. (HBO's "Westworld" is the most recent production to take advantage of Castle Valley's natural wonders, for example.) Indian Creek National Monument is excellent for photographers. While the hiking trails in the area mostly lead to top climbing sites, they may be worth exploring for unique vantage points over the area. But Indian Creek often welcomes a different breed of videographer, one who scales cracks up sheer rock walls to capture intrepid climbers in one of America's rock climbing meccas.
While rock climbing certainly isn't for everyone, it's easy to appreciate the scenery from a lower vantage point as you cruise the 41-mile state scenic byway. Plan time to stop at the Needles Outpost and Newspaper Rock. Chat with the locals about the area, fuel up and re-stock supplies at the Needles Outpost which is also a campground. Utilize the picnic area just across the highway from the petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock for a bit of relaxation. Due to flash-flood risk, the BLM reports that the campground at Newspaper Rock is permanently closed.
Of course, any trip down the byway should include time to visit Canyonlands National Park. (Canyonlands is divided into three land sections or "districts:" Island in the Sky, Needles and The Maze). While Indian Creek Falls camping area and The Needles District are considered more rugged and remote than the more popular Island in the Sky District. To the north (near Moab), there are a couple of very family-friendly hikes and a campground (advance reservations highly recommended, though there are some first-come, first-served sites).
While there are also BLM campsites on Indian Creek National Monument, these campsites are popular with climbers, are primitive and amenities are few or very basic. Out of respect for private land and public land with grazing rights, climbers follow Leave No Trace ethics and keep pets on-leash around livestock and ranch personnel.
Indian Creek National Monument Fees
There are no fees or permits required to visit Newspaper Rock or to drive the Indian Creek Corridor Scenic Byway through Indian Creek National Monument, national park fees are required to enter Canyonlands National Park.
The area is open year-round, and the best times to visit are March through late-May and September through October. Feel free to bring your dog, but most places require furry friends to remain on-leash.