Here in our little corner of southeast Utah, we seem to be central to everything! From the scenic views of Monument Valley, the dizzying bends of Goosenecks State Park to the majestic bridges of Natural Bridges National Monument, Bluff boasts an expansive backyard. If you're looking for a fun day or multi-day road trips from Bluff for anytime of the year, here are a few recommendations.
Sand Island Petroglyph PanelStarting from Bluff, you can head west on Highway 191 a short four miles and visit the Sand Island Petroglyph Panel. The prehistoric rock art ranges from 800 to 2500 years old. Can you spot Kokopelli, the humpbacked flute player?
Valley of the GodsContinuing west of Bluff on Highway 163, you can't help but notice the giant formations sculpted from Cedar Mesa sandstone. Painted with the territory’s famous red dirt, these monoliths boast a royalty of rich colors and fantastic formations. The formations have been given names such as Rooster Butte, Setting Hen Butte, Balanced Rock/Lady in a Tub by locals. As you drive through Valley of the Gods, think about the names you would give these formations. More information on the 17-mile loop through Valley of the Gods can be found here. Camping beneath these stately towers is a fun option, too!
Goosenecks State ParkThe Goosenecks of the San Juan River are a series of tight loops– or “goosenecks”—made by the river as it flows towards the Colorado River. Geologists refer to these loops as entrenched or incised meanders. This state park has an easily accessible viewpoint above the river offering spectacular views of the goosenecks below. To reach the Goosenecks, drive west from Bluff on US 163 for 20 miles, then turn north on UT-261. Turn left at the sign for Goosenecks State Park (UT-316).
Monument ValleyThe famous Monument Valley. Say, didn't John Wayne poke his head around these parts? Monument Valley is all about the view of magnificent buttes, spires, mesas, and pinnacles. You can tour the park via a 17 mile, unpaved loop that can be quite bumpy in some areas. Monument Valley is about an hour drive southwest of Bluff on Highway 191 and 163. For more information on its history and geology, click here.
Moki Dugway to Natural Bridges National MonumentAfter you've had your fill of towering sandstone spires, buttes and mesas (but can you really tire of such beautiful views?), circle back towards Bluff but head north on Highway 261 to climb the famous Moki Dugway. These three winding miles of climbing will take you to the top of Cedar Mesa. A detour "left" at the top of the Moki Dugway will take you to the Cedar Point and Muley Point Overlooks. Best time to experience these scenic lookouts? Sunset. Continue north on 261 for 32 miles, then take a left on Highway 95 to follow signs to Natural Bridges. This National Monument is famous for its long, natural sandstone bridges and Ancestral Puebloan ruins. For more information about Natural Bridges, visit here.
Arch Canyon OverlookContinuing on our road trip, we can start to loop back to Bluff by heading east on Highway 95 towards the town of Blanding. On the way, you'll pass the Arch Canyon Overlook. This slight detour requires high clearance vehicles but is well worth the effort. Stunning views of Arch Canyon give you a taste of how grand all the canyons on Cedar Mesa are. We suggest reading Utah's Canyon Country blog for great directions on getting to the overlook.
Hovenweep National MonumentThe name “Hovenweep” is a Ute word for “deserted valley,” a suiting description of the landscape of southeastern Utah. Once home to more than 2,500 indigenous people, the Ancestral Puebloan ruins of Hovenweep are believed by archaeologists to have been part of an agricultural community in 900 A.D. To reach this National Monument, continue east on Highway 95 towards Blanding. When you hit Highway 191, turn right to head south for 10 miles, then turn left on Highway 262 towards Hovenweep. More details about Hovenweep can be found here. After some fun stops and a couple of days on the road, time to head back to Bluff. If you are looking to add more stops to your road trip, we recommend checking out our full list of recommendations here. Have fun- and safe travels!
Local conservation group Friends of Cedar Mesa is hosting its annual Celebrate Cedar Mesa event, a full weekend of lively presentations, local films, workshops, hikes and service projects helping protect the beauty and archaeology of this spectacular landscape. The three-day weekend held March 4 - 6, 2016 in Bluff is sure to make a splash. Friends of Cedar Mesa kicks off the weekend Friday the 4th with service projects on our public lands. Friday night, everyone is invited to a free evening of films, awards, snacks and a presentation on archaeoastronomy. Saturday is the big gathering at the Bluff Community Center. Early registration for this event is $30 and includes lunch and a chili dinner. The agenda featuring archaeologists, botanists, local land managers and FCM staff can be found online. Saturday night, registrants are invited to an evening of dancing and live music by Durango bluegrass band "Running out of Road." Cash bar. Sunday, meet up with other Cedar Mesa Celebrants for organized hikes and workshops. Register now for workshops, as they're filling up quickly!
Here is all you need to navigate the 2015 Bluff Arts Festival Trail of the Artists Friday Oct. 16 - Saturday, Oct. 17. The map below will help you decide at which gallery to begin your tour.
Additional DetailsFor more details on the Bluff Arts Festival, visit the event website or check out their Facebook for the latest updates. Click here for a full schedule of the weekend's events.
A new monument at the Bluff Fort honors the San Juan pioneers who came to Bluff after the original Hole in the Rock company. The monument will be dedicated on October 10th by Steven Snow, LDS Church Historian and Record, and Executive Director of the Church History Department. The dedication ceremony begins at 11 a.m. at the Bluff Fort and will be preceded by a public chuck wagon breakfast beginning at 8:30 a.m. The original Hole in the Rock pioneers arrived in Bluff in April 1880. Beginning the next year, more pioneers came to Bluff as part of the San Juan Mission via the Hole in the Rock trail. Elder Steven Snow is a descendent of Apostle Erastus Snow, who issued the calls to those sent to the San Juan Mission between 1879 and 1883.