Panoramas of Ancient Life
Loop through time along portions of the dramatic Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway, which intersects with Ancestral Puebloan history of the Bears Ears National Monument and Four Corners area and Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. This is a place where monumental landforms connect with the sky, and vast fields of stars fill the night skies.
On your road trip, you'll see evidence of early cultures who built a life in the ruggedly beautiful Canyonlands region, including the incredible cliff dwellings of Hovenweep National Monument. You'll realize, this was a very different way of life. In these sparsely populated lands, it is easy to imagine this place before humans.
After seeing the Valley of the Gods and massive natural bridges with mythological significance, you'll learn about a more primitive time and place, and maybe learn a little about modern life in the process.
For an Extended Stay
You can access Lake Powell and the 1.2 million acres of Glen Canyon National Recreation from S.R. 276, which breaks south from S.R. 95 and Natural Bridges National Monument.
Only an hour south of the adventure-rich Moab area a whole other incredible journey begins. You'll travel through millennia of human history when driving through these unexpected landscapes and hallowed lands as you uncover evidence of ancient peoples and witness geologic magnificence through the lens of another time.
Begin with Cave Spring Trail in Canyonlands, showcasing a convergence of cultures across time with a cowboy camp and prehistoric pictographs. Explore additional short hikes then drive toward Blanding to see the large display of Ancestral Puebloan artifacts and the 1,000-year-old kiva at Edge of the Cedars State Park. Edge of the Cedars is an archaeological gem that cannot be overlooked. Consider a side trip about 14 miles south of Blanding on S.R. 95 to ancient cliff dwellings like Butler Wash Cliff Dwelling on Comb Ridge and House on Fire.
Next, you'll be off to a place that may already define this region in your mind: Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Stop the car by the side of the road in Monument Valley. Turn off the engine and step out into the vast expanse of desert, you'll find the stillness and the solitude of the mesas and the canyons remains — just as it has for centuries. John Ford and John Wayne recognized and captured the timelessness of Monument Valley, a place that has persisting elements of the frontier and the mythology of the American West. With Bluff, Mexican Hat or Goulding's Lodge as your basecamp, you'll have close access to all the aura and adventure of the iconic American West. You can drive the scenic byway or explore the Wildcat Trail on your own, but many believe the richest experience is in booking Navajo-guided jeep tours and hikes.
The spectacular river-carved bridges of Natural Bridges National Monument have Hopi Indian names: delicate Owachomo means "rock mounds," massive Kachina means "dancer," while Sipapu, the second largest natural bridge in the state (and one of the world’s largest), means "place of emergence." It's the world's largest display of natural bridges. Continue up S.R. 95, the Bicentennial Byway toward Hanksville for the return trip. The 133-mile high-desert drive crosses some of Utah's most rugged and beautiful canyon country, including a Glen Canyon crossing and views of the remote Henry Mountains.