SOLD OUT! Backcountry Archaeology: Hiking the Bears Ears

Blanding, UT


Be Curious, Be Brave…

Carved into the banded sandstone of Bears Ears National Monument are twisting gorges and deep canyons. Careful and persistent hikers are met with exquisitely preserved rock art panels, kivas, towers, and granaries—a testament to the innovation and resilience of Pueblo people who have thrived in the southwest since time immemorial.

Each evening we return to a mesa top base camp tucked in a pinyon-juniper forest under a blanket of stars. Strictly limited to a small group size, we minimize our human footprint and optimize an up close and personal adventure. Daytime hikes and evening discussions around a campfire make this an unforgettable experience.


  • Three nights camping in Bears Ears National Monument; Two nights at Stone Lizard Lodge in Blanding, Utah
  • Venture into the nearby iconic high desert landscape of Canyonlands National Park
  • Gain a deeper understanding of “Visit with Respect” as we discuss Native American perspectives and the irreplaceable nature of this region

What to Expect

Meals, lodging, and transportation provided

Sunday, April 2: Opening Night

Gather in the evening to meet the group and have an evening talk to set the stage for the week to come.

Overnight: Durango (D)

Monday, April 3: Butler Wash and Muley Point

We’ll travel to the Bears Ears National Monument for a 5-mile hike along the San Juan River to see one of the largest petroglyph panels in the area. Continue up the Moki Dugway, Muley Point overlook, and Cedar Mesa where we’ll set up base camp and enjoy our first evening camping.

Overnight: Camping on BENM (B, L, D)

Tuesday, April 4: Bullet Canyon

Explore one of the major side canyons in Grand Gulch. This is a 12-mile out-and-back hike to some of the best preserved ancestral homes in Bears Ears. We’ll view granaries and petroglyph panels along the way in this all-day adventure.

Overnight: Camping on BENM (B, L, D)

Wednesday, April 5: Road Canyon

We cross over to the east side of Cedar Mesa for a classic hike to view several of the region’s most dramatic sites. This day will cover 6-miles of moderate hiking.

Overnight: Camping on BENM (B, L, D)

Thursday, April 6: Kane Gulch

Today we walk through Kane Gulch to see sites that help us gain insight into daily life in the region. We’ll break down camp and transfer to Blanding for our last two nights. This day will cover 9-miles of moderate hiking.

Overnight: Stone Lizard Lodge, Blanding, Utah (B, L, D)

Friday, April 7: Canyonlands National Park

We travel north, beyond the Bears Ears, to the Canyonlands National Park and the Needles District. The change of landscape gives us a glimpse into the extended lands and lifeways of the Ancestral Pueblo people.

Overnight: Stone Lizard Lodge, Blanding (B, L, D)

Saturday, April 8: Departures

Transfer back to Cortez for vehicle pick up and to Durango for airport shuttles as needed. (B)

*(B, L, D) indicates meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California CST 2059347-50

Is this program right for me?

WHAT TO EXPECT: This is a hiking intensive program consisting of day hikes from a base camp and does not involve overnight backpacking. Be prepared to hike across rugged and remote canyonlands. You may be required to hike between four and twelve miles a day on uneven, rocky trails. Some routes may be steep for short sections and have loose rock and no shade. While staff members are available for assistance, you should be comfortable using your hands to steady yourself and be able to take steps higher than a standard staircase step to navigate around boulders and bedrock.

This program involves van travel and hiking to access both frontcountry and backcountry sites. Some days will include van rides of one hour each way. Some days van rides will last less than 30-minutes with multiple stops.

ACCOMMODATIONS: The program begins in Durango, CO. We’ll transfer to a remote backcountry camp on Cedar Mesa for three nights. For the final two nights, we will be at the Stone Lizard Lodge in Blanding, Utah.


How strenuous is the program? This program includes extended, strenuous hikes where you will carry a pack with water and food for the day.


How long are the hikes on the trip? Our longest planned hike is approximately 12-miles. The shortest hike is four miles. The terrain is rugged, steep, rocky, and has little or no shade.


How much elevation gain do the hikes have? Most hikes involve an elevation gain of 200 - to 1200-feet.


What time does the program start on the first day? We will gather at 5:30 p.m. at the designated hotel in Durango on the first day.


What time does the program end on the last day? We’ll depart from Blanding, UT at 8:00 a.m. and arrive in Cortez at 10:00 a.m. A shuttle to Durango will continue and arrive at approximately 11:00 a.m.


What airports will transportation be provided from? Crow Canyon provides transport to/from both Durango and Cortez airports.


Can I drive myself during the program? Can I bring an RV to stay in instead? No. We will travel as a group in Crow Canyon vehicles each day. No personal vehicles will be allowed at our camp/site visits.


What if I have a dietary restriction? We will do our best to accommodate dietary restrictions to your satisfaction.


Will we be backpacking? No. We will have a base camp where we depart and return each day.

What camping gear is provided? You may bring your own gear (tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag) if you wish. You may rent sleeping bags if you do not have your own. Crow Canyon will provide tents, air mattresses, camp chairs, eating utensils, cups, toilets, etc. A full gear list can be provided upon request.

Program Details