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12 Free Bear Ears Monument Boondocking Locations

Bear Ears

The Bear Ears National Monument is located in southeastern Utah and is home to one of the most fascinating cultural landscapes in the United States. Bear Ears gets its name from 2 distinctive buttes which tower over Utah landscape and those look like the ears of a bear. It includes thousands of rock petroglyphs, native community centers, ancient cliff dwellings, and artifacts.

The Bear Ears National Monument was created with an original size of 1,351,849 acres which were later reduced to just over 200,000 acres. The area within the monument is undeveloped and it has a wide array of cultural, historic, and natural resources. The proposed management plan for the reduced area permits firewood gathering and tribal access for the traditional plant, cattle grazing, use of recreational off-road vehicles, water, and utility infrastructure.

This piece of Utah landscape is a great place for visitors who are interested in site seeing, photography, mountain biking, rock climbing, and trail running. Travelers from different parts of the world visit the cultural history and natural beauty within 201,876 acres of Monument. You can spend several days or weeks exploring different ancient cliff dwellings, pictographs, petroglyphs that were occupied by ancient groups.

Proof of their lifestyles has been left for vacationers to appreciate include pottery, tools, grainaries, kivas, and other artifacts. This Bear Ears National Monument area has juniper forests, high plateaus, and red rock.

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History of Bear Ears National Monument

The Monuments land is considered sacred by the region’s American Indian Tribes. About 13,000 years ago, individuals, started inhabiting Cedar Mesa part which currently is part of the Monument. Additional tribes of early people, such as the Puebloans, moved into area about 2000 years ago. This is evident by the cliff dwellings and artifacts that was left behind.

On 28, December 2016, former President Barack Obama declared Bears Ears as designated monument. The original designated area as noted agove was a larger area than it is today. On 4, December, 2017, former President Donald Trump ordered to adjust the National Monument border.

In the coming term, the Biden government will decide if it is going to restore the Monuments original borders. Despite these recent changes, the surrounding and Bears Ears has a long history, back thousands of years.

Ideally, the Monument is administered jointly with U.S. Forest Service and BLM. It is made up of 2 units: the Indian Creek Unit to the north and the Shash Jáa Unit to the south. In the fiscal year 2020, the BLM estimated that there were 161,247 visitors with 125,911 to the Indian Creek Unit and 35,336 to the Shash Jaa Unit. In the face of growing visitation, this Monument has an estimated visitation of 450,000 people per year.

Saguaro Pro Hiking Trails

12 Free Bear Ears Monument Boondocking Locations

1. Bear Ears National Monument Boondocking – 12 Miles: – Hammond Canyon Overlook

Address
Utah
GPS: 37.681236, -109.767778
Elevation: 8058′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Dirt and 15 miles from a paved road. Hammond Canyon Overlook is open Aprilish to early Decemberish. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 15 feet. You may stay 14 Days at Hammond Canyon Overlook.

One of the highest elevation camps in the area at 8000 feet with ok+ plus views of Hammond Canyon. One large site with easy access near corrals, several along Canyon rim with high clearance access. As I recall this was at the limit of 3g smartphone access. You can see the worst of the road from the corrals and there are plenty of alternatives in the area. Elk Ridge Road itself is a good quality gravel road.

Activities:

Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Rock Climbing
Wildlife Viewing

1 Hammond Canyon Overlook 1 Boondocking 1 Hammond Canyon Overlook 2 Boondocking 1 Hammond Canyon Overlook 3 Boondocking

2. Bear Ears National Monument Free Camping – 12 Miles: – Human Panted Rocks in Burch Canyon

Address
Lake Powell, Utah
GPS: 37.610409, -109.929119
Elevation: 6811′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Dirt and 6 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. Cool little prepared spot on public lands great for tent camping (and you can pull your RV in Nearby).

2 Human Panted Rocks 1 Boondocking 2 Human Panted Rocks 2

3. Bear Ears National Monument Dispersed Camping – 13 Miles: – Burch Canyon Road

Address
Road 254
Utah
GPS: 37.601438, -109.923472
Elevation: 6998′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

You may stay 14 days at Burch Canyon Road. About 3 miles outside of Natural Bridges National Monument UT, look for a sign for Deer Flat Rd. Turn onto that road. Smaller sites on the left in the trees just as you turn into the road (Burch Canyon) and a larger site (large turnaround area) about a half mile up the road. Several more sites further back the road. But road can be rutty especially if wet. The road is ok first half mile. The park ranger suggested the area to us.

Activities:

Wildlife Viewing

3 Burch Canyon Road 1 Boondocking 3 Burch Canyon Road 2

4. Bear Ears National Monument Boondocking – 15 Miles: – Fry Mesa

Address
Lake Powell, Utah
GPS: 37.622705, -110.083528
Elevation: 5843′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and .2 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. Just off the 95 down a short dirt road, there were a few fire rings set up when we stayed there August 2016

4 Fry Mesa 1 Boondocking 4 Fry Mesa 2

5. Bear Ears National Monument Free Camping – 16 Miles: – Grand Gulch

Address
Utah 95
Blanding, Utah
GPS: 37.582931, -109.893541
Elevation: 6772′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

The road in is 4×4. Free Dispersed camping in the Bureau of Land Management Monticello District. No reservations. First come, first served. It is rcommended that you have 4×4 and high clearance to reach this free camping area.

6. Bear Ears National Monument Dispersed Camping – 16 Miles: – Jct 95 – 261

Address
Unnamed Road
Blanding, Utah
GPS: 37.570671, -109.882549
Elevation: 6801′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

Free Dispersed camping in the Bureau of Land Management Monticello District. No reservations. First come, first served.

7. Bear Ears National Monument Boondocking – 18 Miles: – Jacob’s Chair

Address
Utah 95
Lake Powell, Utah
GPS: 37.706954, -110.23939
Elevation: 4849′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

Free Dispersed camping in the Bureau of Land Management Monticello District. First come -> First Camped. Reservations not accepted.

I spent a little over a week there. I was in a 29’class c pulling a motorcycle trailer, and had no trouble getting in and out. The site is close to the highway, but there is not much traffic. I had no cell service, and the nearest pit toilet is about 10 miles away. I was parked on the rim of the canyon with great views in all directions! I had the site to myself most of the time with the occasional motorcycle or jeep going up the trail to Jacobs Chair.

8. Bear Ears National Monument Free Camping – 18 Miles: – Salvation Knoll

Address
Blanding, Utah
GPS: 37.561635, -109.813721
Elevation: 7021′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Dirt and 1 miles from a paved road. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet.
Activities:
RV Parking
Tent Camping
Hiking

9. Bear Ears National Monument Dispersed Camping – 19 Miles: – Blue Notch Road BLM Boondock

Address
Hanksville, Utah
GPS: 37.763397, -110.293869
Elevation: 4823′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Managment (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and .5 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 40+. You may stay 14 days at Blue Notch Road BLM Boondock.

9 Blue Notch Road BLM Boondock 3 9 Blue Notch Road BLM Boondock 4 9 Blue Notch Road BLM Boondocking 1 9 Blue Notch Road BLM Boondocking 2

10. Bear Ears National Monument Boondocking – 20 Miles: – White Canyon Overlook

Address
Lake Powell, Utah
GPS: 37.798324, -110.304595
Elevation: 4610′

Management – Public (Unofficial)

West of Natural Bridges National Monument on Hwy 95, just a large pullover site at MP 62.5, but beautiful views of the canyon and not much traffic on Hwy 95 so pretty quiet. There is another larger area about 5 miles east of here as well – both on the canyon side of the road.

11. Bear Ears National Monument Free Camping – 22 Miles: – Canyonlands NP – Devils Kitchen

The price is $30
Address
Unnamed Road
Monticello, Utah
GPS: 38.136053, -109.859954
Elevation: 5285′

Management – Public – National Park Service

The road in is 4×4. There are four campsites at this location. You will need to be self sufficient. Water is not available. Bring some. There are no trash services in this area. Please pack all of your trash, and any that you see, out with you. Remember to stay on the trail and leave no trace. Pets are not permitted, even in vehicles.

Amenities:

Restrooms

12. Bear Ears National Monument Dispersed Camping – 22 Miles: – County Road 236 Boondock

Address
Blanding, Utah
GPS: 37.524635, -109.748459
Elevation: 6100′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Managment (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and 1.5 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 30. You may stay 14 days at County Road 236 Boondock.

Turn south off of Route 95 onto CR 236 (Balley S Lower Road). Travel through a juniper and pinyon pine forest for about a mile before coming to open range land. Go another 1/2 mile and turn left along the pasture fence. There’s an existing campsite with a stone fire ring. This place is really quiet. The only traffic was a water truck filling the tank in the pasture.

Boondocking 12 County Road 236 Boondock 4 12 County Road 236 Boondocking 1 12 County Road 236 Boondock 2

Places and Things to Do and See in Bear Ears National Monument

1. Rock Climbing

If you adore climbing rocks, you need to visit Indian Creek section of the Monument. In this area, you will find around 1,000 diverse rock climbing routes that usually attract many climbers from all over the world who are looking forward to challenging themselves in climbing rocks. Remember that there are no amenities found within the rock area in the pack, however, you can utilize the vault toilets. You must bring your water and only experienced climbers should try to conquer these cliffs.

2. Bears Ears Education Center

One of the great places you need to visit when you arrive at the Monument is the Education Center. This place is situated in the city of Bluff. Ideally, this place was established to assist visitors to understand the local environment while educating them about the area’s history through educational exhibits. This education center is run by the local community. It is the perfect place to ask questions that you may have about this parcel of land before visiting. This Education Center is open from Thursday through Monday during peak season. If you want to get printable and downloadable maps, you can visit the Bears Ears Education Center website.

3. Mountain Biking

The enormous 4-wheel driving roads within National Monument are also ideal for mountain bikers who want to go exploring. Riding is permitted on all the roads found on the monument. One of the finest places to ride if you are an experienced rider is on the Lockhart Basin Road. You will get to see mesmerizing views of the bordering Canyonlands National Park. It is a 44-mile mountain ride, therefore, you must be prepared to have some sore legs if you consider to ride it on.

4. Hiking

No matter what pack of the Monument you visit there, it will be a great hiking opportunities ahead of you. There are various archeological sites situated inside the monument (including Butler Wash Ruins and Cave Towers) together with several hiking trails that allow you to have spectacular views of the surrounding area. One of the well-known places to visit is San Juan Hill where the Hole-in-the-Rock excursion took place. It is important to remember to carry plenty of water since the area is arid.

5. Auto Touring

If you are visiting the Monument with a vehicle, you can consider taking a drive on the many scenic roads. These roads have different surfaces including off-road which is ideal for 4-wheel driving. The most popular roads you can hike with your vehicle include Harts Draw Road, Valley of the Gods, Needles Overlook, and Bears Ears Buttes. If you decide to go auto touring, you are advised to bring extra supplies and fuel as you will be far from civilization. Driving in Monument Valley will give you maximum flexibility and it is the most cost-effective way to visit the park.

6. OHV Trails

There are a lot of trails ideal for recreational vehicles within the National Monument. One of the best trails is situated at Jacob’s Chair landmark where you will find a 28-mile loop ideal for riding. It is ideal for experienced riders and mostly runs sideways the ridge to offer you a great view. Whenever you are riding, do not disturb the surrounding environment and you will require to stick to the trail.

7. Canyoneering

This is a technical adventure requiring ropes and technical skills. Some people have the skills to navigate these canyons on their own. Nevertheless, you can opt to hire a guide service to take you. A technical canyoneering venture will often require swimming, climbing, and abseiling. Visitors who are brave enough to participate in the Canyoneering activity will discover beautifully sculpted places were few individuals get to explore.

Top 5 Trails to Hike at Bear Ears National Monument

1. Bear Ears Hiking Areas  – Valley of the Gods Road

1. Valley of the Gods-1 National Monument

Valley of the Gods Road is a 16.3 mile heavily trafficked point-to-point trail located near Mexican Hat, Utah that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for scenic driving and ohv/off road driving and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Have you watched movie called the HBO series Westworld or John Wayne Western? Then there is a chance that you have seen this Valley. It is situated in the southern part of the Bear Ears National Monument close to a small town called Mexican Hat. It is red rock region spires and soaring monuments that Navajo alleged were immortalized warriors.

If you want to visit the place, you need to hop 17-mile rough loop and hike across the desert toward hills on the particular mesa, known as Moki Dugway. Besides, you will have panoramic views of the geologic prodigies on earth. Depending on which way you approach down the valley, the ground drops away and it will leave a breathtaking view of big sandstone that raises from the Valley Floor. It is a great alternative if you do not want to hike.

Length: 16.3 mi
Elevation gain: 1,653 ft
Route type: Point to point

Interactive Map

OHV/Off-road driving
Scenic driving
Dog friendly
Views
Wildflowers
Wildlife

1 Valley of the Gods at Bear Ears National Monument

2. Bear Ears Hiking Trails – Lower Muley Twist Canyon and Grand Gulch Loop

2 Lower Muley Twist Canyon and Grand Gulch Loop-1 National Monument

Lower Muley Twist Canyon and Grand Gulch Loopis a 14.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Boulder, Utah that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

It’s a 15 mile hike on the Grand Gulch which is one of the unique trips in the planet. As you trek deeper in the desert, you will find more cultural artifacts. Watchtowers, granaries, kivas, Cliff dwellings are around each corner, and petroglyphs, arrowheads, pottery shards are in abundance.

Length: 14.8 mi
Elevation gain: 1,328 ft
Route type: Loop

Interactive Map

Backpacking
Camping
Hiking
Nature trips
Bird watching
Views
Wildlife
Fee
No dogs

2 Lower Muley Twist Canyon and Grand Gulch Loop at Bear Ears National Monument

3. Bear Ears Nature Trails – Bullet Canyon Trail to Grand Gulch and Kane Gulch

3 Bullet Canyon Trail to Grand Gulch and Kane Gulch-1 at Bear Ears National Monument

Bullet Canyon Trail to Grand Gulch and Kane Gulch is a 20 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Mexican Hat, Utah that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until November.

Four days three nights may 24-27 gorgeous scenery unlike anything I have ever experienced. We entered at the ranger station and carried enough water for two days of hiking with the intent to hit the Green Mask spring on our second night. It was lovely and reliable. Lots of brushy wash-crossing, trail relatively easy to find, ruins absolutely spectacular. Hike out was moderate and beautiful. I would do this again in a heartbeat. All I can say is look up! Lots of unmarked ruins here.

Length: 20.0 mi
Elevation gain: 1,719 ft
Route type: Point to point

Interactive Map

Hiking
Nature trips
Walking
Bird watching
Views
Rocky
No dogs

3 Bullet Canyon Trail to Grand Gulch and Kane Gulch at Bear Ears National Monument

4. Bear Ears Hiking Areas – Wolfman Panel Trail

4 Wolfman Panel Trail-1 at Bear Ears National Monument National Monument

Wolfman Panel Trail is a 0.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Blanding, Utah that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Very close to parking. Follow trail to the edge and you’ll see trail markings to your left. Lots of Petroglyphs in the area.

Length: 0.8 mi
Elevation gain: 91 ft
Route type: Out & back

Interactive Map

Hiking
Dog friendly
Views
Rocky
Historic site

4 Wolfman Panel Trail

5. Bear Ears Nature Trails – Monarch Cave via Comb Ridge Trail

5 Monarch Cave via Comb Ridge-1 at Bear Ears National Monument National Monument

Monarch Cave via Comb Ridge is a 1.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Bluff, Utah that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and bird watching and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Monarch Cave is located in Butler Wash on the east side of Comb Ridge near Bluff, Utah. A short trail leads from the trailhead up a narrow canyon to a cave.

Length: 1.5 mi
Elevation gain: 114 ft
Route type: :
Out & back

Interactive Map

Kid friendly
Hiking
Walking
Bird watching
Cave
Dog friendly
Views
Wildlife

5 Monarch Cave via Comb Ridge

5 Scenic Places To Visit in Bear Ears

1. Mule Canyon Roadside Kiva

This Roadside Kiva was built for religious ceremonies. When you visit this Canyon Roadside Kiva, you will have a great sense of the type of underground and surface structure constructed by Ancestral Puebloans. Ideally, these structures were constructed on Cedar Mesa 700 years ago. The path to the kiva is paved and is an easy walk.

2. Sand Island Petroglyph Panel

This Sand Island is situated in the Sand Island Campground and it has a boat launch, a seasonal ranger station, camping, restrooms, and seasonal drinking water. Therefore, be prepared to carry your water.

3. House on Fire Archaeology Hike

This is an iconic Ancestral Puebloan cliff popularly termed “House on Fire” since, at some time of the day, the rocks become lit with colorful color. It is a great hike for families. If you want to obtain photographs of the rock structures, make sure that you visit before noon. An annual pass is accessible at the BLM office in Monticello or BLM Kane Gulch Ranger Station.

4. Butler Wash Ruins

This is an Ancestral Puebloan structure constructed and occupied around 1200 A.D. ideally, the cliff dwelling has storage, habitation, and ceremonial structures, including 4 kivas. The parts of the site have been reconstructed and stabilized. The moderate walking trail is 1-mile with a few plant identification signs and benches along the way. At the end of the trail, you will find a fenced overlook with interpretive signs. Restroom and packing are available.

5. Needles Overlook

This place offers stunning views of the BLM lands and Needles District of Canyonlands pack. This site provides a panoramic view whenever you are walking along the fence and you will see Canyonlands National Park, the Abajo Mountains, and Indian Creek. A pit toilet and picnic area are available.

Bear Ears Kiva

Paid Accommodations and Dining Near Bear Ears National Monument

Unless you like camping, there very few lodging options you will find near the Bears Ears area. The 2 nearest cities where you can find and rent Accommodations and Dining motels include Hanksville, Ut. And Blanding, Ut. There is no 4 or 5-star lodging anywhere close. If you want something nicer, than a typical road motel, Moab, Utah town is about 2 hours away and it has many lodgings. However, booking in advance is advised. Other lodging options include Abajo Havens Guest Cabins, Blue Mountain RV Park and Trading Post, and more.

What to Pack for Your Visit to Bear Ears National Monument

If you are traveling to Bear Ears Monument soon, you need to plan for you to get all the fun and learning out of the place. Make sure you don’t miss any ancient art, prehistoric sites, scenic routes, or breath-taking natural formations. Here is the list things you might need and somethings you have to have.

Water—at least one gallon per person per day.
Food—more than you think you’ll need.
Ice and ice chest.
Sun hat and sunscreen.
Sunglasses.
Layers of light clothing.
Sturdy footwear.
Daypack or Camelbak.

Bear Earns OHV

We hope that you have enjoyed reading the article and it has helped you plan a visit to Bear Ears National Monument. Happy travel planning!

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