Looking for an off-grid RV adventure? Located within San Juan County, Bears Ears National Monument is a mainly undeveloped area of southeastern Utah that is very important to Native Americans. Managed collectively by many Native American tribes, the BLM, and the United States Forest Service, Bears Ears National Monument is full of important archeological sites and adventure opportunities. Free dry-camping on the land is allowed since it is managed by the BLM, but due to the unsealed roads, there are many areas that RVs won't be able to navigate to.
Originally designated as a National Monument by President Obama in 2016, Bears Ears National Monument was reduced in size from over a million acres to just over 200,00 by President Trump in 2017. Named after two buttes within the monument area that are over 8,900 feet in height, there are so many things to see and do in this beautiful area. Rock climbing in the Indian Creek section of the monument is highly regarded, as well as numerous hiking, OHV, and mountain biking trails. There is no park office at the monument, but if you want to learn more about the history of the area you can head to the town of Bluff and visit the community-run education center. If you want to do even more exploring you will also be within close proximity to Canyonlands National Park.
Along with having free dry-camping, Bears Ears National Monument also contains plenty of campsites for RV lovers wanting more amenities. The Hamburger Rock and Superbowl campgrounds are two of the more popular places to stay within the park, along with the Windwhistle Campground that is close to the monument in the Canyon Rims Recreation Area. Peak season at Bears Ears National Monument runs from April until October each year.
Driving to and from the monument can be quite challenging depending on where within Bears Ears National Monument that you are planning on visiting. Since the monument is very big, there are many ways to gain access, including via the 211, 261, 191, 95, and 163 Highways. A lot of the roads within the monument are totally unsealed and can also get washed out during wet weather. Since RVs aren't usually suited to going off-road, this will limit what areas of the monument you can travel to if you don't have a day-use vehicle.
Another thing to keep in mind before leaving for your journey is that most of Bears Ears National Monument will be totally off-grid with no access to water. You will have to plan your journey in advance and make sure that you bring enough supplies to last for your stay, especially if you are heading out to the more remote parts of the monument. There are plenty of towns on the outskirts of the park that you can visit if you need to stock up, including Monticello, Blanding, and Bluff.
Although the monument is open all year round, visiting during the winter months can be challenging, especially if you want to do a lot of exploring off the beaten path. Snowfall in the area can cause many roads to be blocked, so if you do plan to travel during this time be prepared for delays.
There are plenty of places to park at Bears Ears National Monument, but be sure to park on areas that have already been disturbed.
One of the more popular campgrounds within the Bears Ears National Monument area is Hamburger Rock. Located near Canyonlands National Park and operated by the BLM, you will have to pay a fee to use the campground, but it is well worth it. The campground contains 10 large sites, most of which are near the rock formation that has been coined Hamburger Rock.
All of the sites at the campground come equipped with a picnic table, fire ring, and access to vault toilets. None of the campsites feature electric, water, or sewer hookups and you will have to haul in your own water. Apart from a few juniper trees and the Hamburger Rock, there isn't much shade on offer at the campground due to the barren desert landscape.
All of the sites within the Hamburger Rock Campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but the campground is usually quiet so you should be able to get a site all year round.
There are plenty of places for free dry-camping throughout Bears Ears National Monument thanks to its location on BLM land. It is advised that RVers who are dry-camping outside of a campground do not disturb the environment and stay at sites that have already been disturbed.
If you are looking for another dry-camping option where you can stay in a campground you should consider the Superbowl Campground. Featuring 16 sites, Superbowl Campground is located within Bears Ears National Monument and features some gorgeous views of the surrounding canyons. All of the sites in the campground are primitive and there are no hookups or water collection points, so you will need to bring your own water. Some of the sites have picnic tables and there is a vault toilet that is available for all campers.
All sites at the Superbowl Campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis and your fee needs to be paid once you arrive at the campground.
Located just outside of Bears Ears National Monument within the Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Windwhistle Campground is another BLM campground that is a great choice for a developed camping experience. The campground is around 6,000 feet in elevation and features one loop that contains 15 sites that offer privacy thanks to trees at each site.
Windwhistle Campground doesn't feature any sites that have hookups, but the campground does have water collection points open during the peak season and vault toilets for your convenience. All of the sites are level, on the larger side, and come equipped with a picnic table and fire ring. Another great feature of the campground is the nature trail that will take you on a brisk one-mile walk in the surrounding area.
Windwhistle Campground is available on a first-come, first-served basis and you will have to pay a fee to use the campground. Since it is in quite a remote location there won't be large crowds disrupting your stay.
If you love to rock climb, you must visit the Indian Creek section of Bears Ears National Monument. Here you will find over 1,000 different rock climbing routes that attract experienced climbers from all over who are looking to challenge themselves in this remote environment.
There are no amenities within the rock climbing section of the park, but you can use the vault toilets at the Indian Creek Group Campground. Only experienced climbers should attempt to conquer these cliffs and you must bring your own water to the area.
One of the first places you should visit upon your arrival to Bear Ears National Monument is the Bears Ears Education Center. Located in the town of Bluff, the education center is run by the local community and was established to help visitors understand more about the local environment and educate them about the history of the area through educational exhibits.
Open from Thursday through Monday during the peak season, Bears Ears Education Center is also the perfect place to ask any questions you may have about this massive parcel of land before you go exploring.
The vast four-wheel driving roads within Bears Ears National Monument are also perfect for mountain bikers wanting to go exploring. Riding is allowed on all of the roads within the monument and ranges in difficulty from easy rides to difficult ones due to the length of some of the roads.
One of the best places to ride for those who are experienced is on the Lockhart Basin Road where you will get to see the mesmerizing views of the neighboring Canyonlands National Park. This is a 44-mile ride, so be prepared for some sore legs if you choose to take it on.
No matter what park of Bears Ears National Monument you visit there will be incredible hiking opportunities waiting for you. There are several archeological sites located inside the monument (such as the Cave Towers and Butler Wash Ruins) along with many hiking trails that will lead you to stunning views of the surrounding area.
A popular hike is to visit San Juan Hill where the historic Mormon pioneer Hole-in-the-Rock expedition took place. Before you go hiking remember to bring plenty of water with you since this is an arid environment.
If you are traveling to Bears Ears National Monument with another vehicle you should consider taking a drive on one of the many scenic roads. The roads vary between surfaces and due to them being off-road most are only suitable for four-wheel driving.
Some of the popular roads to check out include Bears Ears Buttes, Needles Overlook, Valley of the Gods, and Harts Draw Road. If you do decide to go auto touring we recommend that you bring extra fuel and supplies since you will be very far from civilization.
Off-road lovers rejoice! There are plenty of trails suitable for recreational vehicles within Bears Ears National Monument. One of the most well-known trails is located at Jacob's Chair landmark where there is a 28-mile loop perfect for riding. The trail is suited to experienced riders and mostly runs along a ridge that will provide you with a great view. When riding you will need to stick to the trail and not disturb any of the surrounding environment.