Bears Ears Education Center Now Open

Bears Ears Education Center
Bears Ears Education Center
Learning about the Bears Ears National Monument at the Bears Ears Education Center in Bluff, Utah

A community-powered, grassroots education center designed to help guide visitors respectfully explore Bears Ears National Monument is now open in Bluff.

The Bears Ears Education Center provides visitors with information on where to go and what to see while encouraging those visiting the region to ‘Visit with Respect’ in an effort to preserve the natural and cultural landscape of southeast Utah.

“This is a necessary and positive step toward protecting this internationally significant cultural landscape – a landscape sacred to many Tribes and Pueblos,” said Friends of Cedar Mesa Executive Director Josh Ewing. “The support from those in the Bluff community and beyond has been tremendous as we work together to lessen visitor impacts on public lands in southeast Utah.”

Staffed with volunteers, the center aims to provide hikers, backpackers, paddlers, climbers and other adventurers with information, educational exhibits, free maps, and a gift shop that sells memorabilia, books and limited equipment for visiting the area with respect.

The education center also features information on the archaeology of the area, the creation and history of Bears Ears National Monument, and its importance to Tribes and Pueblos. In fact, the Bears Ears Education Center is currently expanding to include a collaborative Tribal exhibit driven by the five Tribes and Pueblos of the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition. Also coming soon, visitors will be able to experience remote backcountry sites through virtual reality simulations that simultaneously teach the best practices for visiting these sensitive and fragile spaces.

The Bears Ears Education Center is located at 567 W. Main Street in Bluff, UT.  It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday to Monday, from March through November.

Be sure to check out these upcoming events at the Bears Ears Education Center:

  • 8/2/2019 at 7:00 p.m. 10 Years at the Gnatalie Quarry. Presented by the Natural History Museum of LA County
  • 8/28/2019 at 7:00 p.m. Four Corners Lecture Series: Maxwell Forton presents House of Shields: Defensive Imagery at Defensive Sites
  • 9/6/2019 at 7:00 p.m. Four Corners Lecture Series: Peter Brown presents Ecology Past, Present, and Future: Taking the Long View
  • 10/3/2019 at 7:00 p.m. ‘The Anthropology of Paleontology’: Native American Depictions of the Fossil Record in Bears Ears an Beyond with R.E. Burrillo
  • 10/18/2019 at 7:00 p.m. Four Corners Lecture Series: Arnold Clifford presents Navajo Ethnobotany
  • 10/19/2019 at 10:00 a.m. Bluff Arts Festival presents Behind the Book: “Voices from Bears Ears” with Rebecca M. Robinson and photographer Stephen E. Strom
  • 10/20/2019 at 9:00 a.m. Meet the Author: Amy Irvine & Torrey House Press

2019 Bluff Arts Festival is October 17 – 20th

2019 Bluff Arts Festival

You’re invited to experience the arts of the Four Corners region at the 2019 Bluff Arts Festival set for Oct. 17-20th. Since 2004, the Bluff Arts Festival has attracted creative enthusiasts from all over the world to the red rock desert of southeast Utah for a unique celebration of the arts. 

Free events at this year’s family-friendly festival include riverside storytelling, live music, artist market, children’s activities, and more! 

The 2019 festival kicks off Thursday, Oct. 17th with storytelling along the banks of the San Juan River. Grab a lawn chair or blanket and follow the torches lighting the way to the river behind Recapture Lodge to listen to selected authors from the Ellen Meloy Desert Fund for Writers.

Friday evening you’re invited to the Bluff Community Center for an intriguing showing of regional films – tickets $5.00 at the door. And, don’t miss out on free live music and great food at Cow Canyon Trading Post Saturday night. Come hungry for the ‘Taste of Bluff’ featuring delectable dishes available for purchase from Bluff’s favorite restaurants. Live music performances include Salt Lake City country crooners Donner Pass and the Four Corners’ own gypsy jazz band Cartue Roma.

You’ll also want to leave plenty of extra time in your schedule to browse and buy from the Four Corners most talented artists at the Artist Market on Saturday (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) at the Bluff Community Center. Food trucks and free children’s activities will also be provided. 

Additionally, artist-led, hands-on workshops begin Friday and run through Sunday. Advanced workshop registration and prepayment required.

For a full list of events, go to Bluffartsfestival.org.

A Celebration of Ellen Meloy on April 17th

Celebration of Ellen Meloy

When: Wednesday, April 17th at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Bears Ears Education Center

Utah author Ellen Meloy died unexpectedly in 2004, three months after completing Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild, which went on to become a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Only a few years earlier, her book The Anthropology of Turquoise had been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. This spring, Torrey House Press, in partnership with RadioWest, is honored to publish Seasons: Desert Sketches, an original collection of essays by Meloy with a foreword by Annie Proulx. 
“This cinematically vivid collection feeds both intellect and soul, and shows that Meloy possessed the brevity and vision of a poet, and the coy sass of an understated comedian.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY  

Join Torrey House Press and RadioWest for A Celebration of Ellen Meloy with Friends of Cedar Mesa featuring Zak Podmore, Amy Irvine, and Elaine Clark at the Bears Ears Education Center in Bluff, Utah. This event is free and open to the public.

Ellen Meloy was a native of the West and lived in California, Montana, and Utah. Her book Eating Stone (2005) was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for nonfiction. The Anthropology of Turquoise (2002) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Utah Book Award and the Banff Mountain Book Festival Award in the adventure and travel category. She is also the author of Raven’s Exile (1994) and The Last Cheater’s Waltz (2001). Meloy spent most of her life in wild, remote places; at the time of her death in November 2004 she and her husband were living in southern Utah.  

About the featured panelists:
Elaine Clark, producer of KUER’s RadioWest, is a Hoosier, and studied Folklore and Germanic Studies at Indiana University. She earned a Master’s degree in Middle East Studies from the University of Utah, which included a year of academic research and work for an education NGO in the West Bank. In her free time, Elaine dreams about her former days as a rugby fullback, wanders the desert and mountains with her husband and stepdaughter, and, as a self-confessed history nerd, reads 19th century newspapers and census records for sport.  

Amy Irvine is a sixth-generation Utahn, long-time public lands activist, and author of Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness. Her memoir, Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land, received the Orion Book Award, the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, and the Colorado Book Award. Irvine teaches in the MFA program of Southern New Hampshire University. She lives and writes off the grid in southwest Colorado, just spitting distance from her Utah homeland.  

Zak Podmore is a Utah-based freelance writer, film producer, and editor who covers conservation issues and Utah politics. He is editor-at-large for Canoe & Kayak magazine and editor of the Canyon Echo: A Journal of Southeast Utah. He has previously written for Outside, Sierra, High Country News, Four Corners Free Press, High Desert Journal, and the Huffington Post. His films have been selected for the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, and the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, and his magazine writing won a 2018 Folio Eddie Award. His essay collection Confluence is forthcoming from Torrey House Press.

Rent the Bluff Community Center and Kitchen for your next event

Exterior of Bluff Community Center

Looking for rental space in Bluff, Utah for your next event?

In the heart of the Bluff community surrounded by red rock and desert sands sits the Bluff Community Center and Kitchen. This multi-use facility boasts nearly 5,000 square feet of flexible space perfect for any event. The event center includes a sport-floor, ideal for yoga or other sporting events, as well as a large stage, high-quality curtains, a portable podium, and portable sound system for amplification.

Social and corporate gatherings, as well as weddings, will find the 10, 8-foot rectangular tables along with the 16 round tables, both which seat a minimum of 8, included with community center rental to be a useful addition. The community center can also provide 7 long tablecloths and 8 round green tablecloths. 

Restrooms are located at the entrance to the building. Supplies, including trash bags, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and more are available for use.

Renters are responsible for set up and take down of tables, chairs and any additional decorations. Renters must empty trash into approved bins for pick up and leave the Bluff Community Center in the condition in which it was leased.

Maximum occupancy is 300 people, and all events must conclude by 10 p.m. No alcohol or firearms are allowed on premise.

If you’d like to rent the Bluff Community Center:

  1. Download the documents below to review rental fees and requirements.
  2. Send an email to BSAcommunitycenter@gmail.com, or contact Carol Shook at 435-672-2317, to check availability for your date.

Bluff Commercial Kitchen

Additionally, the Bluff Community Center property boasts a free-standing, commercial kitchen available for rent as well. The kitchen and freestanding grill area known as Fire Mesa were designed and constructed by Design Build Bluff, from the University of Utah’s School of Architecture. Click here for a link to Design Build Bluff’s website and description of the project.

The Bluff Commercial Kitchen features a paved walkway leading to the Bluff Community Center for ease of use. A rolling cart makes it easy to transport dishes to and from the community center for catered meals.

The kitchen also includes the use of Fire Mesa, the large outdoor grill for parties. The patio surrounding the grill allows for easy wheelchair accessibility to both the grill and the indoor kitchen. There is an electrical outlet on the exterior of the building beside the grill, which can be fun for setting up a small band for your party.

The interior kitchen has heat and air conditioning. The two ovens, a refrigerator, a second refrigerator/freezer, and an electric five-burner stovetop make kitchen cooking easy. There is lots of counter space for food preparation and clean up. The numerous drawers and cupboards are fully stocked with pots, pans, bowls, plates, glasses, pitchers, knives, forks, spoons, grill tools, as well as a full assortment of kitchen utensils such as measuring cups, coffee maker, and paring knives. 

The large window on the north side of the kitchen slides open to allow serving right out of the kitchen and onto the patio. From there it’s an easy, accessible walk to either the grill area or the community center.
Clean up is easy with three large sinks allowing you to wash, rinse, and sanitize your dishes. Soap and bleach are all included with your rental. Please leave the Bluff Community Kitchen clean and in the same condition in which it was leased. 

If you’d like to rent the Bluff Community Center:

  1. Download the documents below to review rental fees and requirements.
  2. Send an email to BSAcommunitycenter@gmail.com, or contact Carol Shook at 435-672-2317, to check availability for your date.

Fees and Rental Agreement for Community Center Public and Private Events

Fees and Rental Agreement for Kitchen

Fees and Rental Agreement for Classes and Activities

2019 Bluff Balloon Festival

Join us for the 21st annual Bluff Balloon Festival the weekend of January 18 – 20, 2019.  

The festival lineup includes:
Friday, January 18th
7:30 a.m.   Balloons fly over Bluff
5:30 p.m.   Navajo Taco Supper sponsored by the Bluff Elementary School

Saturday, January 19th
7:30 a.m.  Balloons fly over Bluff
Noon – 5 p.m.  Arts Fair
4:00  p.m. – 6:30 p.m.  Chili & Ice Cream Social
5:30 p.m.  Glow-in

Sunday, January 20th 
7:00 a.m.   Gather at Community Center to caravan to Valley of the Gods
Fly over Valley of the Gods 

To be a vendor at the Artist Market, contact Jana at georgianasimpsonart@gmail.com