Bears Ears Area Starter Kit
A pair of distinctive, towering buttes stand against beautiful scenery. We call them "Bears Ears." With the help of local expertise, respectfully explore ancestral cliff dwellings and massive natural bridges in a fascinating desert ecosystem.
A pair of towering, distant buttes stand against beautiful scenery. The twin buttes are so distinctive that in each of the native languages of the region their name is the same: Hoon'Naqvut, Shash Jáa, Kwiyagatu Nukavachi, Ansh An Lashokdiwe, or in English: Bears Ears. (Your best view of the Bears Ears occurs on the third day of this itinerary, but they are not a primary destination.)
Bears Ears National Monument covers a broad expanse of red rock, juniper forests, high plateau, cultural, historic and prehistoric legacy that includes an abundance of early human and Native American historical artifacts left behind by early Clovis people, then later Ancestral Puebloans, Fremont culture and others. The Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Hopi Nation and other tribes have close, contemporary connections to the land.
Perhaps many road trips have covered the distance between Moab and Monument Valley without realizing what’s out there. While the designation of Bears Ears has started to change that, southeastern Utah remains a remote and little-understood place.
Two units of Bears Ears, Indian Creek and Shash Jaa, provide a glimpse into the diverse lands that stretch across the southeastern corner of Utah, in the famed Four Corners region of the United States. You'll visit ancestral cliff dwellings, examine the desert ecosystem, stand beneath gargantuan natural bridges and interact with the communities of locals and Native cultures that call it all home.
Much of Bears Ears National Monument is remote and requires a combination of wayfinding skills and a high-clearance vehicle to access — or the savvy of a well-prepared backpacker. Much of Bears Ears is fragile, too. Travelers to any of the thousands of ancestral sites, including cliff dwellings and kivas, testaments to astonishing architectural prowess and strong prehistoric communities, should visit with extreme care and observe the land's Respect and Protect principles. Appreciate from afar. Examine potsherds, arrowheads and other fragments of past cultures with awe, but leave in the places where you find them. Note the imprint of some ancient thumb in the adobe mortar, but leave no trace of your own.
No matter its designation, no matter how you say it, Bears Ears combines profound human past with distinctive and sacred lands. You could lose yourself for days out here, but your Bears Ears Area Starter Kit introduces you to the experiences, places, history and people that give definition to these fascinating lands.