Blog San Juan County

12 Fun Things to Do in San Juan County, Utah

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Can I interest you in a street journey by means of the spectacular American Southwest?

San Juan County is situated in Utah’s far southeastern nook. It’s a large region with a small inhabitants, overlapped by the Navajo Nation. You possibly can go to Canyonlands Nationwide Park, plus numerous nationwide monuments, state parks, tribal parks and 100,000+ ancestral Puebloan ruins.

It’s additionally shut to some excessive profile locations like Moab, Arches Nationwide Park, Mesa Verde Nationwide Park and Arizona’s Monument Valley.

San Juan County just lately invited my household for a visit. I was excited to verify off a number of locations on my wish record, and made the Three-day journey with my 12-year-old son and 11-year-old niece. We packed so much into that time and soaked up plenty of beautiful surroundings all alongside the best way.

Right here is our listing of enjoyable things to do in San Juan County – Utah’s Canyon Country.

Canyonlands Nationwide Park has three sections – Island in the Sky, Needles and the Maze – with separate entrances. I’d visited Island in the Sky a number of occasions and have written about it. This time, we targeted on Needles and I couldn’t consider that I hadn’t managed to get right here before.

The thirty-mile drive from Freeway 191 is extremely scenic, slicing by means of the brand new Bears Ears Nationwide Monument. The street is paved and properly maintained. We found a new visitor middle with clean, trendy loos and picnic tables. We solely had a number of hours, so the ranger pointed us to three brief hikes – Roadside Wreck, Cave Springs and Pothole Point – which we liked. There are also longer hikes and 4WD trails you possibly can discover.

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Associated: Favorite Hikes in Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky

Natural Bridges Nationwide Monument was the exercise that excited me most earlier than our journey, and it’s one of many reasons I’m planning a return trip. I want more time right here. Pure Bridges is situated about 45 minutes west of Blanding.

Pure Bridges is residence to three giant pure bridges. You’ll be able to see them all from straightforward view factors excessive on the mesa prime, or hike to the bottom. It was late in the day and we shortly realized that we didn’t deliver almost enough water, so that restricted our time and power for climbing. The trails aren’t very lengthy, however they are strenuous. You’ll be rewarded with a lot better views and photographs though.

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The brand new Bears Ears National Monument protects many miles of outstanding surroundings and archaeological sites. Probably the most famous and accessible sites is Newspaper Rock a number of miles off of Highway 191. Newspaper Rock is a powerful collection of petroglyphs, low to the bottom and just some steps from the paved parking zone.

At this point, there are few maps and signs for Bears Ears Nationwide Monument. No visitor middle, literature or NPS web site either. It covers two sections of San Juan County – Indian Creek to the north and Shash Jaa to the south.

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Related: Ideas for Visiting Utah’s Newspaper Rock

Hovenweep is a natural monument that includes a number of well-preserved ancestral Puebloan buildings. It sits on the Utah-Colorado border, east of Blanding. It has a small customer middle with restrooms.

My family stopped here briefly once we drove by way of the bigger Canyons of the Ancients National Monument simply over the border in Colorado. Should you pack plenty of water and a picnic, you’ll be able to simply do each on the identical day.

Associated: What to Anticipate at Canyons of the Ancients Nationwide Monument

boy in four states at once - Tips for visiting Four Corners Monument

Four Corners was a should as a result of my 2012 article about it attracts tons of of readers a day. I needed to see it at a unique time of yr and a special time of day and discover out if something has changed. It’s pretty much the same – and nonetheless a enjoyable and unique experience.

Four Corners is the one place in the U.S. where you’ll be able to stand in four states and three sovereign nations on the similar time. It is managed by the Navajo Nation, and it can be surprisingly crowded, considering how remote it is. After you get photographs, save time to store the Navajo arts and crafts cubicles and check out some recent fry bread.

Associated: Every part You Want to Find out about 4 Corners Monument

Monument Valley straddles the border of Utah and Arizona, and it’s one of many best-known scenic drives in the USA. The Monument Valley Tribal Park is managed by the Navajo Nation. It has a customer middle and costs a small payment.

Watch Forrest Gump before your journey, so you will acknowledge “Forrest Gump Hill” and cease for a photograph op.

Related: Itinerary for a Utah-Arizona Winter Street Journey

Lake Powell makes up most of San Juan County’s western border. It’s Utah’s premier water recreation destination, and lots of families spend time here every summer time. My dream is to lease a houseboat right here someday.

Lake Powell boasts hundreds of miles of jagged shoreline and lots of nooks and crannies where you will get away from the crowds. The pink rock surroundings is outstanding and scorching summer time temperatures beg you to take a swim.

Associated: Ideas for Touring the Glen Canyon Dam

Dead Horse Point State Park - Moab in Winter

Lifeless Horse Point is a stop on the best way to the Islands in the Sky district of Canyonlands. The panoramic view is beautiful, and it’s value paying the state park entrance payment on prime of the Canyonlands entrance payment. There is a visitor middle, and it’s a brief walk from the parking zone to the view level.

Mountaineering, mountain biking and tenting are additionally obtainable at Lifeless Horse Level. Morning is the most effective time of day for pictures. The first jiffy of Mission Unimaginable: 2 have been filmed right here.

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Associated: 4 Methods to Save on Nationwide Park Charges

Fringe of the Cedars in Blanding was our first cease on our current journey. It’s a museum built next to a restored ancestral Puebloan house. Mounds of earth indicate unexcavated buildings nearby. The museum has two floors of artifacts from local websites, discovered as lately as April 2019. There is a room crammed with palms on activities for teenagers.

I LOVE seeing the ancestral Puebloan ruins that dot the 4 Corners area, so this was my sort of place. The youngsters favored the museum, and thought that it was particularly fun to climb down a ladder into an actual kiva. They have been somewhat previous for the youngsters’s play space contained in the museum, but I feel they’d have cheerfully spent extra time there if we weren’t in a rush.

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Related: Greatest Locations to Go Stargazing in Utah

Fort Bluff was a pleasing shock on our means again from 4 Corners to Monticello. It’s situated in the town of Bluff, where the Gap in the Rock pioneers settled after their harrowing six-month journey across Southern Utah. Fort Bluff is a free historic website, nevertheless it’s apparent that a substantial sum of money has been donated to renovate it – and pretty just lately. It feels all new.

Start with the brief two-part HD film that may fill you in on the Gap in the Rock story. Then explore the household activities and historic buildings and antiques in the back. The youngsters had fun pulling handcarts, dressing in pioneer garments and roping “cows.” We spent about an hour here, nevertheless it was just a little rushed.

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Associated: Greatest Family Actions in Utah from A to Z

Blanding’s Dinosaur Museum was a enjoyable stop on our method to 4 Corners. It has three galleries that includes life-sized skeletons and fleshed out sculptures. It additionally has a variety of basic dinosaur movie memorabilia. Certainly one of our favorite reveals was the Permian Logs contained in the front doors, which have been found in San Juan County and pre-date the dinosaurs.

This museum is just not as giant as some other dinosaur museums in Utah, and I needed extra native fossils. However, it’s cheap and educational, with some showy reveals. We spent about an hour right here.

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Panning for gold was (unexpectedly) our favourite exercise in San Juan County. Kevin and Tyler are Monticello locals who have been prospecting for gold in their spare time for 17 years. It helps that Tyler is a licensed gemologist and Kevin owns the native ironmongery shop, and that they’re both fairly personable. They’re now sharing their expertise – and pay filth from their mining claims – by means of AirBnB Experiences.

We spent a couple of hours learning methods for real-life gold prospecting and successfully found small amounts of gold, copper and colourful gems – principally apatite. Results will differ. Tyler collected our treasure into clear pendants with silver chains, and we took them residence as souvenirs.

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We visited throughout peak summer time trip season, and located that the crowds haven’t but discovered this a part of Utah. We had the open street and the pure wonders all to ourselves. Spring and Fall are particularly good occasions to go to San Juan County as a result of the weather is cooler.

It was so enjoyable to go to San Juan County with my son and niece. They have been good sports, and made probably the most of every activity on our itinerary. My husband wasn’t in a position to be a part of us on this trip, and we’re actively planning a romantic street journey by way of Monument Valley before too lengthy.

These are simply of a few of the fun issues to do in San Juan County. Discover extra, plus ideas for lodging, eating, tour guides, outfitters… at

Pleased travels!

Disclosure: The San Juan County Workplace of Tourism deliberate an itinerary based mostly on our interests, and paid our bills for this journey. My family has visited this region at our own expense on a minimum of three earlier trips. All opinions are my own.

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Hi there! I’m the founder of Ideas for Family Journeys. I am a married mom of two youngsters, ages 11 and 14, dwelling near Salt Lake City, Utah. We took our first baby on a two-week street journey when she was 4 weeks previous and we have now been touring as a household ever since. We love to get out of the house to see and do enjoyable issues, both distant and in our personal neighborhood.