Visit With Respect
Utah is filled with a variety of different state and federal land designations, all of which share a connection with Native Nations. Whether you're on Tribal lands (see a map), in a national park or anywhere outdoors in Utah, it's important to understand that there are strong Native ties, present and past, to these lands, even if it doesn’t fit in an official category. While many Nations welcome visitors for activities and events, each comes with its own set of regulations and etiquette. Do research to understand your destination and the customs of the people who live there. However, some general guidelines on visiting Native lands, reservations and sites include:
- Avoid taking pictures of people or events unless you have permission. Remember, this is where people live and work.
- Act respectfully at all times, but particularly at important sites and burial grounds.
- Do not touch or remove pottery or other artifacts you may find — this is a violation of federal law. (Watch: Voices of Bears Ears — The Archaeologists)
- You are a guest on the reservation and allowed on site with the permission. Act accordingly.
- Bears Ears National Monument Day Hiking passes are required year-round for in the Bears Ears National Monument, visit recreation.gov to obtain a pass.
- Follow all travel guidelines related to COVID-19. Check for updates on Utah’s best travel practices before your trip.
Top Experiences by Region
Federally-recognized Tribes: Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation (Washakie Reservation), Confederated Tribes of Goshute, Skull Valley Band of Goshute, Ute Indian Tribe of Uintah and Ouray Reservation
Home to the Fremont peoples from approximately 300 Common Era (CE) to 1300 CE, Northern Utah is known in more recent history for three primary Nations. In the most northern part of the state, you’ll find the Shoshone, who have traditionally lived in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. Their name translates as “high-growing grasses,” and they were traditionally hunter-gatherers who relied on bison as their primary sustenance.
The Goshute people live in the desert landscape in western Utah and eastern Nevada. The harsh environment meant that they remained largely isolated until settlement by white people in the mid-19th century.
The largest group is the Ute people, with ancestral lands east of the Great Salt Lake and into Colorado. The Uintah and Ouray Reservation, about 150 miles east of Salt Lake City, is the second-largest reservation in the country, at 4.5 million acres. The Nation currently has a membership of more than 2,000, with about half of the members living on the reservation.
Top Places to Visit
- This is the Place Native American Village
- Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake
- Nine Mile Canyon
- Natural History Museum of Utah
- Living Traditions Festival | Salt Lake City | May
- Heber Valley Pow Wow | Soldier Hollow | June
- Northern Ute Pow Wow | Fort Duchesne | July
- Native American Festival and Pow Wow | West Valley City | August
- Native American Pow Wow | Tooele | September
- Tour the Native American Village, directed by Navajo Meredith Lam at Salt Lake City's This is the Place Heritage State Park.
- In Salt Lake City, check out the Native Voices exhibit that explores Native American art and culture at the Natural History Museum of Utah.
- In Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park, see both artifacts and contemporary Native American art at the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Art.
- Take a drive on Nine Mile Canyon Road (about 10 miles southeast of Price and a two-hour drive from Salt Lake City) and stop to see the displays of Fremont petroglyphs along the way.
"If there’s water nearby, I'll go there for solace. I grew up on that [San Juan] river, stepping its rapids and floating through my childhood. Both the river and I have changed, but our course remains the same."
– Tacey M. Atsitty, Diné, about her poem "River Sonnet"
Top Places to Visit
- Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
- Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum
- Bears Ears National Monument
- Hovenweep National Monument
- Ééhaniih Day Celebration | Navajo Mountain | August
- Bear Dance: Traditional Hand and Stick Games | White Mesa | September
- Tour Monument Valley with a Native guide (look up Airbnb experiences or offerings at Goulding’s, which offers exclusive tours of the area).
- Visit House on Fire during sunrise or sunset to get iconic photos of this well-preserved site in Mule Canyon outside of Blanding.
- Go inside a reconstructed kiva at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding to get a glimpse into the ancient life of Ancestral Puebloan lifestyle and architecture, as well as a large collection of pottery and artifacts.
- Head to Bears Ears Education Center in Bluff to learn how to respectfully visit the Bears Ears National Monument, one of the largest archeological sites in the world.
Top Places to Visit
- Fremont Indian State Park and Museum
- Anasazi State Park and Museum
- Cedar Breaks National Monument
- Zion National Park
- Paiute Restoration Days Pow Wow | Cedar City | June
- Western Legends Heritage & Music Festival | Kanab | August
- Cedar Band of Paiutes Thanksgiving Pow Wow | Cedar City | November
- Hike at Parowan Gap to see the impressive collection of petroglyphs, most likely made by the Fremont, just outside of Cedar City.
- Enjoy an afternoon at Navajo Lake, east of Cedar City, which was known to the Paiute Indians as Pa-cu-ay, which means “cloud lake.” Boating, fishing, swimming, and mountain biking are all popular here now.
- Take a drive on scenic Johnson Canyon Road, outside of Kanab, where you can see several petroglyph sites.
- Go off-roading on the 245-mile Paiute ATV Trail in the Fishlake National Forest and explore upwards of 900 miles of spur trails you will find off the main loop.
Read the Stories
Ancient Pictographs, Petroglyphs and Timeless Mysteries
Exploring Horseshoe Canyon isn’t for everyone. First of all, the effort to get there is an adventure in itself, but those efforts make the reward — namely, the chance to see up close some of the most significant pictograph panels in North America — even more noteworthy.
Art Keeps the Native American Culture Alive
Utah artist Al Groves launches a new art collective as he works to keep indigenous traditions alive.
Exploring Mule Canyon: House on Fire and Cave Tower
Driving the up the dusty, terracotta-colored road toward Mule Canyon in Cedar Mesa, you get a sense that this is a special place, though you might not be able to put a finger on why.
Following the Markings of Native American History
This road trip across Utah to view ancient petroglyphs and pictographs will give you an incredible window into the past.
Hike Among Traces of the Ancients at the Mysterious Parowan Gap
See an impressive number of panels covered in petroglyphs. Some people believe that the Gap was considered a special place at certain times.
Hoop by Hoop with Patrick Willie
A Navajo storyteller found his purpose in hoop dancing. Now he’s using social media videos to amplify the Native voices of a younger generation.
How to Visit Rock Imagery Sites Like an Archaeologist
There are untold thousands of rock imagery sites across Utah, and hundreds of thousands of archaeological sites of every stripe. Learn how to explore these sites with the respect and deference they deserve.
Insider's Guide to Hiking Rainbow Bridge National Monument
From choosing the best season and trail, to understanding logistics and history, here's what you need to know to hike Utah's Rainbow Bridge National Monument located off the south coast of Lake Powell.
Meet the Fremonts: Unearthing an Ancient Civilization
Did you know that interstate highway construction created Fremont Indian State Park? Visit the park and Museum for a peek into Utah’s past, plus hiking and ATV trails.
Navajo: Fry Bread, Tacos, Pizza
Despite its troubling origins, Navajo fry bread is an inspired food of the nation’s people, and it can be found in many forms with various names around the southwest.
Nourished by the Land: A Shoshone Perspective
Darren Parry learned from his grandmother about the plants, places and worldview that sustained their Shoshone ancestors.
San Juan and the Trail of the Ancients
At almost 8,000 square miles, San Juan is Utah's largest county, nearly the size of New Jersey. Between the Needles district of Canyonlands and Four Corners there are vast lands of incredible wilderness, national forest, the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and beautiful rivers and...
Spirits in the Rock
Spectacular pictograph panels, ingenious cliff-hanging architecture and the mysteries of Range Creek Canyon’s first inhabitants, the Fremont.
The 46 Miles of Nine Mile Canyon
Follow Nine Mile Canyon Road into the rugged and remote Book Cliffs, where messages from the ancients interface with settlers of the West and modern ways of thinking.
The Art of Supporting Utah Artists
Here’s a look at six local artists whose work draws upon Utah’s diverse environments as inspiration.
The History of River House (and How to Experience It Today)
Looking for items to add to your Bears Ears Monument itinerary? Explore the history of the River House Ruin site here and see it for yourself. Visit Utah.
The Navajo Basketmakers
Meet the Navajo artists behind this labor intensive and traditional practice.
The Petroglyphs of Comb Ridge
Comb Ridge in Southeastern Utah offers dramatic galleries of ancient petroglyphs engraved on sandstone cliffs by Ancestral Puebloan artists over 1,000 years ago. Learn more about Comb Ridge and its unique rock art sites, including the famed Procession Panel.
The Story of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Ancient erosion and modern cinema joined forces to elevate Monument Valley to one of the world's most iconic places to visit — but it's also the sacred home of the Navajo people. Learn more about the history, size and scenes that define the Monument Valley Utah experience.
The Voices of Bears Ears
Bears Ears National Monument is at the heart of southeastern Utah. These lands are imbued with layers of culture — layers of life. In this four-part video series, meet the locals who connect with the land in their own distinct ways.
Touring Utah with the State’s Most Well Known Women Writers
The diversity and beauty found in Utah has often been captured by women. Here are the places that seven of Utah’s most well known women writers knew and loved most.
Twin Rocks Trading Post
A must stop! The shop has museum-quality ancient art as well as handcrafted Native American and Southwest art.
Utah Heritage Hot Spots
Today, evidence of a blend of indigenous culture and Mormon pioneer heritage abounds throughout Utah’s astonishing landscapes. This combined heritage is the foundation for a modern legacy of arts and culture that also includes a thriving Olympic spirit, inspiring earth art and fascinating drives on historic roads.
Utah’s Unexpected Pit Stops
You’re doing it wrong if you think road trip pit stops are boring layovers on your way to more exciting destinations. How many of these hidden gems have you been to? Here are 11 mini-adventures to check off your list next time you’re road-tripping through Utah.
Wintertime Storytelling With Shoshone Tribal Elders
We’re shining a spotlight on elders from the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation who keep tribal history alive through the stories traditionally told and retold in winter months.
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.
Countless generations of Native Americans have called the landscapes of Utah home, from the hunter-gatherers of the prehistoric era to the more than 50 Native Nations currently in Utah.
Phoenix to Monument Valley: Exploring Utah's Historic Sites
Share the same reverence for the landscape as the first prehistoric inhabitants and the modern-day Native Nations as you embark on this six-day road trip to the Monument Valley region.