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.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in New Mexico preserves 2000 years of archaeological treasures. Visitors can learn the incredible story of the Mogollon Culture and see the fascinating cliff structures they left behind. It’s a great experience for the mind and the eyes. Photo by Janice Wei, National Park Service.
Grave stele. Hellenistic period and used subsequently in the1st century B.C, possibly by members of the same family. Found at Trikalitis’ plot in Thebes. Preserved on one side, a male portrait with the inscription “Theodoros Farewell” (ΘΕΟΔΩΡΟΣ ΧΑΙΡΕ). On the other side, without a representation, the inscription “Theodoros Worthy” (ΘΕΟΔΩΡΟΣ ΧΡΗΣΤΟΣ)
This grave stele was discovered recently, and it is one of the newest additions in the exhibition of the museum. That was the main reason for wanting to visit the museum as soon as it opened. I am in a bit of a quest to document works of ancient greek painting. I first saw the portrait of “Theodoros” on an article, in a blurry photo, and then at the online guidebook of the museum. Before this, the only works of ancient greek painting I had seen up close, were the funerary stelai at Pella, and some designs on tombs at Thessaloniki. A few days ago I finally saw this portrait in person and I was elated. Theodoros looks so alive- I guess that was the point.
Last summer I was in for a surpise when I visited the Archaeological Museum of Volos. I had seen a picture of another painted funerary stele with a woman lying in bed dying after having given birth. The quality of the photo was not very good, but the stele was to be found in a greek museum. I drove all the way to Volos just so I could see this stele, and I found dozens of them with vivid scenes and bright colors. Now there are news of two Macedonian tombs with beautiful paintings opening to the public. I think finally ancient greek painting starts gaining the attention it deserves.
The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado contains some of the highest densities of archaeological sites in North America, with pueblos from around 1200 A.D. Stop first at the Anasazi Heritage Center (monument headquarters), Southwest Colorado’s premier archaeological museum of the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) and other Native cultures of the Four Corners region. A short hike from the Anasazi Heritage Center leads to the Escalante Pueblo and a dramatic view of the surrounding Colorado and Utah landscapes.
Gobekli Tepe. Believed to be an early Neolithic Sanctuary (10th millennium B.C.E). The site is located in south Turkey near the Syrian border and was excavated by German Archaeologist Klaus Schmidt from 1999. The purpose of the structure is not clear. However, the site is believed to be a religious sanctuary that had been abandoned in the 8th millennium B.C.E.
#TravelTuesday with Guest Photographer Bob Wick Continues with Day Trips Near the Vegas Strip.
About two hours from Las Vegas in a very remote, lightly populated area is the Basin and Range National Monument. It is truly an iconic American landscape. The vast, rugged landscape redefines one’s notions of distance and space and offers great landscape photography opportunities among its vast valleys surrounded by rugged mountains. The Monument preserves the legacies of 13,000 years of culture and the White River Narrows and Mount Irish Archaeological Districts, which include large concentrations of prehistoric rock art. During the late 19th century, Basque and other ranchers brought sheep and cattle into the valleys, and ranching remains an important part of the local culture to this day. This is a very remote area with no visitor facilities and limited cell phone coverage, so come prepared.
Photo tip: Learn to use a digital editing program. There are many on the market that will work perfectly well for most basic photo adjustments. Great photographers like Ansel Adams spent much more time in the darkroom than they did in the field. Now we have the advantage of doing the same types of adjustments digitally. Adjusting contrast, light balance and other basic fine-tuning will make your images pop – the key is to be subtle and not overdo it. I always shoot “RAW” images and do the all image adjustments myself. Most people who think adjustments are “cheating” don’t realize that if they don’t shoot RAW files, their camera is doing many adjustments automatically and they are giving up personal artistic control.
Greece is home to many archaeological sites and monuments and their distinctive prestige and charm reflects the various periods that have combined, through history, to produce such a rich culture.
For the modern day visitor, these landmarks offer a superb opportunity to journey through this exceptional mosaic of culture and history that have left an indelible mark on every region of the country.
Feeling the wanderlust? See more beautiful things from Greece here.