Earth Connections Camp for Tribal Youth Connects STEM and Cultural Traditions

Story by Jeanette Shackelford, Youth Program State Lead. Photos by BLM Utah and the Bureau of Reclamation.

In June, Utah’s Earth Connections Camp welcomed about 45 American Indian youth for 2 full days of fun and learning in Salt Lake City. The day camp for American Indian youth emphasizes STEM and traditional cultural activities taught by tribal and agency experts. BLM-Utah is a founding partner along with the Utah State Board of Education, and has helped direct camp for the past five years.  

The students visited outdoor learning stations featuring hydrology, Utah Tribal history, dam engineering, ethnobotany, health and medical sciences, soils, and flute-playing. At Thanksgiving Point Institute, the youth built circuits that powered robots capable of coloring pictures, and even controlling computers.

This year, the BLM-Utah’s Associate State Director, Anita Bilbao, was the keynote speaker. In her address, Bilbao encouraged Earth Connections Campers to embrace their culture, never stop asking questions, and say yes to new experiences!


Visiting the New Bears Ears National Monument

In an area as vast and diverse as the new Bears Ears National Monument in Southeastern Utah, it’s hard to know where to start in exploring. Here are some ideas for capturing a sampling of what the new National Monument offers.

On the Northern end, take state route 211 into spectacular Indian Creek Canyon. Stop at Newspaper Rock, a large and spectacular petroglyph panel with carvings dating back to 2,000 years. Further along, the canyon opens up into a wide valley rimmed by Navajo Sandstone. The iconic “Sixshooter” spires soon become visible. Look for rock climbers scaling the narrow cracks in the vertical Navajo Sandstone.

Further south, Take Highway 261 and 95 onto Cedar Mesa. The twin Bears Ears rise just north of the mesa. This is one of the most significant archaeological regions anywhere, with ancient pueblos tucked into endless canyons. Visiting many of the pueblos require planning ahead as they include hikes and some also require visitor permits. However, a view of the spectacular Butler Wash Ruin is a one hour round trip hike from a developed trailhead while the Mule Canyon Ruin is located along the highway.

Driving south along the rolling pinion uplands of Cedar Mesa does not prepare one for the descent of Highway 261 via the “Moki Dugway”. The route drops precipitously with views of Monument Valley in the distance. Similar landforms to Monument Valley’s famous formations are found along a 17 mile unpaved loop drive beginning at the base of the Dugway which traverses the Valley of the Gods.

A final stop along the southern border of the monument is also a must see. The viewpoint at Goosenecks State Park takes in a spectacular sequence of tight and colorful meanders of the San Jun River carved into the sandstone cliffs.

Many parts of the new national monument are remote and there are no services. Make sure to stock up with supplies in Monticello, Blanding or Bluff which all offer a full array of services as well as accommodations.


Gypsym Addiction

For Endangered Species Day we want to highlight the dwarf bearclaw poppy, which has been a federally listed endangered species since 1979. A plant or animal is listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 when it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. 

The dwarf bearclaw poppy (Arctomecon humilis), is a gypsophile or gypsum-loving plant, having a distinct preference for the gypsum rich soils found in the upper layers of the geologic Moenkopi Formation. It is endemic- or found only in a certain locality or region – to Washington County, Utah, growing at elevations between 2,600 and 3,300 feet. Today, there are only five small populations of dwarf bearclaw poppy remaining, all within a ten mile radius of St George, Utah! 

Photo: Melissa Buchmann, Recreation Intern for BLM-Utah


On this day in 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed the National Parks and Recreation Act

This [Act] reaffirms our Nation’s commitment to the preservation of our heritage, a commitment which strives to improve the quality of the present by our dedication to preserving the past and conserving our historical and natural resources for our children and grandchildren. It honors those who helped to shape and develop this Nation; it acknowledges our need to receive strength and sustenance from natural beauty; and it addresses the pressing need to improve recreational opportunities in our urban areas.

-Jimmy Carter, November 10, 1978

BLM photos by Bob Wick.


#mypubliclandsroadtrip today hikes to Corona and Bowtie Arches near Moab, Utah 

The roadtrip heads a mile and a half up Bootlegger Canyon to the sandstone Corona and Bowtie Arches. The short hike to the arches includes a pass by a large cairn garden, moki steps, and a short ladder climb that rewards with the first sight of the arches.

Bowtie and Corona Arches greet hikers with unusual form and incredible views! Notice the reddish-black coating on the exposed rock surrounding Bowtie Arch. This coating– called a desert varnish– is a result of clay and other particles cementing to the rock surface. Manganese gives the rock its black-color and iron creates the reddish tone. It takes thousands of years to make desert varnish, so tread lightly when coming in contact with the rock surface. 

Photos: Hannah Cowan, BLM Utah


A little #weekendinspiration from beautiful and historic Utah!

The transition to cooler fall weather is bringing an influx of visitors to Southeastern Utah’s Cedar Mesa country.  Spectacular canyons draining from the mesa hide remnants of an ancestral pueblo civilization that flourished here from 2000 until 800 years ago.  The sense of discovery upon exploring these canyons and coming upon a dwelling or granary perched high on the red-rock cliffs is an experience like no other. These fragile dwellings are irreplaceable national treasures and special care must be taken not to enter or otherwise impact them. Make sure to stop by the Kane Gulch Visitor Center to pick up a required day-use or overnight permit and to learn proper etiquette as well as safety tips before beginning your explorations.  

Photos and description by Bob Wick, BLM.  


Happy holidays!

From spectacular red rock canyons and roaring rivers, to high mountain peaks and expansive salt flats, BLM Utah manages your public lands for a variety of uses. Making our job complex and extremely varied. We are a small agency with a big mission, and a lot of ground to cover. This season, we thank our partners, volunteers, stakeholders, and communities that help us care for our nation’s resources. Happy Holidays!


#weekendinspiration from Road Canyon Wilderness in Utah

Road Canyon Wilderness Study Area contains 52,000 acres of spectacular mesas and canyons in Southeast Utah. The remote canyons are popular for backpacking and canyoneering.  A major attraction for visitors are the many sites left behind by the ancestral pueblo people who lived here almost 1,000 years ago. The area is most popular in spring and fall, as the canyon rock reflects the intense summer heat.  A must for the #bucketlist!

New photos by Bob Wick, BLM

Celebrating #wilderness50

“I moved to Kanab for the magnificent red-rock landscapes of Southern Utah. I will never tire of them and plan to stay here after I retire and explore for many years to come,” said Tom Christensen, BLM assistant field manager in Kanab, Utah.

“That our nation had the foresight to protect these special places and that BLM is the caretaker is both a duty and privilege that I take very seriously. Wilderness protection truly represents one of the best aspects of civilization and human spirit." 


Happy Friday from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument!

The vast and austere landscape of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument offers a spectacular array of scientific and historic resources. Encompassing 1.9 million acres, the Monument was created in 1996 by presidential proclamation – the first monument entrusted to BLM management. World-class dinosaur excavations have yielded more information about ecosystem change at the end of the dinosaur era than almost any other place in the world. Among the fossil finds, paleontologists have identified dinosaurs not previously known to have inhabited this region, as well as several new species.

The vast landscapes of GSENM offers visitors a variety of recreational opportunities for a wide range of users.  From the solitude of lonesome canyons to the excitement of winding rugged backways, the Monument is truly a treasure.


Celebrate National #TakeAHikeDay by Exploring Your Public Lands!

Visitors enjoy countless types of outdoor adventure – not just hiking – on the approximately 250 million acres of BLM-managed public lands in the United States.

In an increasingly urbanized West, these recreational opportunities in beautiful natural landscapes are vital to the quality of life enjoyed by residents of western states, as well as national and international visitors.

Photos by BLMer Bob Wick.


This Halloween weekend, visit one of the most spectacular ghost towns on your public lands – the Harrisburg Ghost Town in Utah. 

In 1859, Moses Harris founded Harrisburg, Utah – now know as the Red Cliffs Recreation Area within the BLM-managed Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. A few years later, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “called” the Adams family, among others, to settle in Harrisburg. Quail and Leeds Creek, through a system of ditches, delivered enough water to sustain them until Leeds Creek was diverted further up the road. Water became scarce and the population of Harrisburg began to dwindle.

Today, Orson B. Adams House is the most intact structure remaining of this small pioneering community as it was the last inhabited. This beautiful sandstone block house, and other stone remnants, have a stunning red cliff backdrop.  As a bonus, there are on-site interpretive signs that help tell the community’s story.  #SeeBLM

Ghost town photos by Iris Picat; landscape photos by Bob Wick, BLM’s National Conservation Lands


The Perseid Meteor Shower didn’t disappoint last night in Utah’s Valley of the Gods, where 500+ foot rock spires offered a great foreground.  BLMer Bob Wick took the starry photo of the area last night and the day shots earlier in the week. A scenic loop tour travels through the spectacular sandstone formations – accessible to a passenger car in dry conditions.  #weekendinspiration


Heading into the holiday weekend with beautiful new shots of Red Cliffs National Conservation Area in Utah.  Add Red Cliffs to your bucket list for rugged beauty and miles of trails – great for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.  #getoutdoors

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM


It’s easy to see why Lower Calf Creek Falls is one of the most popular hikes in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah, designated 20 years ago today. The hike traverses a lush streamside oasis that bisects the dramatic and harsh bedrock landscape east of the community of Escalante. Observant hikers on the 6 mile round-trip trek can spot pictographs and rock granaries perched on the opposite canyon walls as they wind up the cottonwood lined canyon. The hike is relatively level, but stretches of soft sand make it moderately strenuous.  

At the end, the reward is a picture-perfect 126 foot cascade over a red-rock cliff. The green and yellow colors that line the contours of the column of water came from algae growing on the sandstone that thrive on the falls’ year-round flow.  A must for your bucketlist!

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#traveltuesday – beautiful new shots from Moab taken last weekend by BLMer Bob Wick.

Corona Arch in Utah is a free standing arch with a 140 by 105 foot opening. Corona and adjoining Bowtie Arch are a popular hike located just 20 minutes from Moab.  The 1.5 mile trail climbs 400 feet. Note that there are two short stretches of steeper slick rock, but cables and footholds are provided.

The Highway 128 corridor follows the Colorado River corridor through slick rock canyons east of Moab. The area is a recreation mecca with a paved bike trail (western part of the corridor), numerous campgrounds, trails, and flatwater boating opportunities. About 30 miles east of Moab, the canyon opens up into Castle Valley with its numerous spectacular rock formations – including Fisher Towers. The towers are renowned as photo subjects and  also provide for challenging rock climbs.  The BLM provides a picnic site at the base of the towers and a 2.2 mile trail offers close up views.  A definite bucket list location!