Sunday, April 8, 2018

Bears Ears National Monument Excursion Overview - April/3 thru 7/2018

Bears Ears Buttes from Highway 261 (8908' & 9058')

Seven Kivas in Road Canyon

Road Trip on Highway 89 and over Glen Canyon Dam to Page, AZ

Brief Visit to Horseshoe Bend
 Bears Ears National Monument was established in the southeast corner of Utah at the end of 2016 but the treasures that it protects have been there for millions of years. From dinosaur fossils to relatively young ruins, petroglyphs and artifacts of the anasazi (or ancient ones), Bears Ears holds a vast amount. Perhaps this area has flown under the radar for so long because its precious riches are not seen until you dive into the beautiful canyons that are cut invisibly into the "flat" terrain of sagebrush and salt bushes topped with an array of cedar, junipers and pinyon pines. Further increasing the low visitation is the relative inaccessibility of the park. The best ruins and petroglyphs (not to mention the dinosaur fossils) are only reached by high clearance vehicles and rugged hikers on a mission.

Pottery Shards and Corn Cob
 Fifteen hikers from Las Vegas, (six of whom are members of the Around the Bend Friends), made the road trip to start the week in Blanding, Utah. On the way, seven of the fifteen hikers stopped for a nice visit to Waterhole Canyon and to view Horseshoe Bend just outside of Page, Arizona.

Moon House Ruins

Blanding, Utah
 The next day, we drove out Highway 95 from Blanding and turned south on Highway 261. A left turn put us on a dirt road called Cigarette Springs Road. Here, we did our longest hike of 8.5 miles in Road Canyon taking in Fallen Roof Ruins and Seven Kivas. The next day, it was Moon House Ruins on Snow Flats Road for which we had previously acquired permits. In the afternoon, four of us took a short hike to the Butler Wash Ruins. The following day was dubbed "Petroglyph Day!" We drove down to Bluff and found the Lower Butler Wash Road.

Small Section of Procession Panel
 A few miles out the road took us to the Procession Panel hike within the 80 mile sandstone Comb. On the way back, we took in the equally impressive Wolfman Petroglyph Panel and the Sand Island Petroglyph Panel. That afternoon, we ate at the Twin Rocks Cafe in Bluff.

Large Warrior within Wolfman Panel

Lower Butler Wash Road
 The last day, we did a short rewarding hike to the House on Fire Ruins and left to go back to Las Vegas. Some of us chose the return route that led back down Highway 261 to the always impressive Moki Dugway. Also on the agenda for the road trip back was Monument Valley and an unusual driving desert rainstorm which we thankfully managed to drive safely through. The fifteen rugged hikers had a fantastic time led by Keith and Beth Lane whose hiking group is called LOVE. Although there is so much more to see, we did get to see a lot of Bears Ears National Monument's major ruins and rock art. There's definitely enough still there for more trips! Our distance stats added up to approximately 25 miles. (More LOVE, please!)

In the following entries, I will cover each hike in the order it was done as follows:
Waterholes Canyon
Road Canyon (Falling Roof Ruin and Seven Kivas)
Moonhouse Ruin
Butler Wash Ruin
Procession Panel
Wolfman Panel
Sand Island Panel
House on Fire Ruin

Man in Sand Island Panel

Late Lunch in Bluff

Road Trip Home - Moki Dugway, Monument Valley and a Desert Rainstorm

1 comment:

Las Vegas Cockapoo said...

Kay--We really enjoyed following your great blog installments on the Bears Ears trip. The photos, narrative descriptions and maps were extremely interesting to us--and we appreciate your efforts in creating these memories.

On the Wednesday hike to Black Mesa with Tony, one of the snack break topics was your Bears Ears blog. Brenda and others on the hike had been following your blog installments with great interest and it created some nice discussion that day among the hikers snacking at the Black Mesa high point.

Again, thanks and Happy Trails! Chuck & Joan