Bears Ears National Monument was established by President Barack Obama in 2016. The monument protects 1,351,849 acres of public land surrounding the Bears Ears, a pair of mesas (see photo below). In 2017 protection became a highly debated topic. I anticipate many changes in 2018.
Back in 2015 I visited several BLM areas now included in Bears Ears National Monument including
- Comb Ridge Canyon (Procession & Wolfman Panels, Double Stack Ruin)
- Kane Gulch (Turkey Pen Ruins, Junction Ruin)
- South Fork Mule Canyon (House of Fire Ruin)
- Valley of the Gods and Moki Dugway
This past spring, I hiked the Sundance Trail, an access point to Dark Canyon Wilderness, which is now included in Bears Ears National Monument. This post along with many more from my travels earlier this year are still pending.
With Dark Canyon Wilderness flagged as somewhere warranting further exploration, I suggested this area when my friends Nancy aka WhyNot?! and Joan aka Hemlock were looking for ideas for a 3-day weekend this past October. Rather than using the very popular Woodenshoe or Peavine trailheads, we accessed the canyon via The Notch trailhead on the east side of the wilderness.
According to my research,
The Dark Canyon drainage is primarily administered by the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The Forest Service manages the upper end of the canyon, which includes the 45,000 acre Dark Canyon Wilderness Area. The BLM manages the lower reaches of the canyon as a primitive area. The Dark Canyon Primitive Area is 62,000 acres and includes a Wilderness Study Area. The extreme lower end of Dark Canyon is within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and is administered by the National Park Service. Source: Canyonlands Natural History Association
- Date(s) Hiked: October 7-9, 2017
- Stop in Monticello at the Ranger Station and BLM office to determine road and trail conditions as well as water status.
- Check weather reports and be aware of flash flooding potential.
- If you are depending on water, ask ranger for specific details. For example we were told there were reliable springs near the Scorup Cabin. The spring wasn’t marked on our maps and we weren’t able to locate although we didn’t spend a ton of time.
- USFS – Bears Ears National Monument
- BLM – Bears Ears National Monument
- Dark Canyon Wilderness
- Manti-La Sal National Forest