The many landscapes of Bears Ears

See photos of the proposed national monument, ranging from meadows to cliffs.

  • Bears Ears buttes, at the heart of the proposed Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah, a sacred place for tribes.

    Tim Peterson
  • Moonlight in the Valley of the Gods, on the southern end of the proposed monument.

    JT Thomas
  • A ruin on Cedar Mesa near Elk Ridge.

    JT Thomas
  • Potsherds scattered across a rock in a canyon on Cedar Mesa.

    JT Thomas
  • Early-morning light casts shadows in the Valley of the Gods, part of the proposed Bears Ears National Monument on Cedar Mesa in southeastern Utah.

    Adriel Heisey/Courtesy Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition
  • The Texas Arm of Arch Canyon, to the northeast of Bears Ears.

    JT Thomas
  • The San Juan River, seen from the Mexican Hat formation, creates a ribbon of green between Navajo lands and the proposed Bears Ears National Monument.

    Whit Richardson
  • A car drives through the Valley of the Gods, at the southern end of the proposed monument.

    JT Thomas
  • The forested north slope of Bears Ears East, as seen from Bears Ears West.

    JT Thomas
  • Aspens and cottonwoods in Whisker Draw on Cedar Mesa.

    JT Thomas
  • South Six Shooter Peak towers over the world-class climbing destination, Indian Creek, at the northern end of the proposed monument.

    Brooke Warren/High Country News
  • A prehistoric granary overlooks Cedar Mesa in Utah, part of the proposed Bears Ears National Monument.

    Josh Ewing/Courtesy Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition
  • Bears Ears buttes, at the heart of the proposed Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah, a sacred place for tribes.

    Tim Peterson/Courtesy Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition

 

The area encompassed by the proposed Bears Ears National Monument is big -- 1.9 million acres in southeastern Utah. Its various ecosystems and geologic formations make the area both visually and biologically diverse. On the east side there's a national forest with a backdrop of the snowy La Sal mountains, and on the west side, Native American ruins perch in the sandstone cliffs of Cedar Mesa. The San Juan river snakes its way along the proposed monument's southern perimeter, while climbers scale cliffs near Indian Creek on the north end. The photos above show landscapes of sacred lands and recreational areas.

Read our recent feature story about the divisiveness over the proposed Bears Ears National Monument and what it means for the communities surrounding it.