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The Bears Ears

Southern Utah Wanderings | Northern Bears Ears
Friday – Sunday, September 29 – October 1, 2017

Big Cap Hoodoo
A large hoodoo we visited while exploring the northern portion of Bears Ears National Monument.

This year for my annual weeklong trip into southern Utah during the first week of October I met up with Jared and we spent most of the week exploring, hiking, four-wheeling, camping, backpacking, peak-bagging and photographing within Bears Ears National Monument. The first few days of our trip were spent in the northern part of the Bears Ears between Canyonlands National Park and Lockhart Basin. (We did a little hiking into Canyonlands, too.) We were hoping to visit a few new pictograph panels and maybe find some ruins, but we ran into some issue that prevented us from reaching the rock art sites we were looking for this time, so we will definitely have to come back and try again another time. Here are some photos from the first three days of the trip.

After meeting up with Jared in Moab we continued on to Davis Canyon where we planned to spend the night. As we turned off onto Highway 211 I had to stop for a quick photo of Church Rock since it was looking pretty nice. To me there’s nothing much better than dark clouds above sandstone that is lit up with warm light. Such a beautiful sight!

Dark Clouds & Lit Sandstone

The sunset only got better as we drove through Indian Creek Canyon, so we had to stop a few more times for photos.

Indian Creek Sunset

Sunset on the cliffs of Harts Point.

Harts Point Cliffs

North Cottonwood Canyon with colorful clouds above.

Cottonwood Canyon Sunset

Vibrant green cottonwoods along Indian Creek with nice clouds above Harts Point.

Cottonwoods & Clouds

Bridger Jack Mesa after the sun went down.

Bridger Jack Mesa

The drive through the wide wash into Davis Canyon in the dark was a little nerve-wracking since it appeared to have flash-flooded very recently and was pretty wet and muddy in places. I’ve driven this canyon a number of times and never seen it this wet. We ended up making it to our planned campsite without any issues.

Stars and sandstone in Davis Canyon. It’s been a while since I took any night photos, so I thought I would try a few on this trip.

Night Sandstone

Our campsite in Davis Canyon under the stars.

Davis Camp

The ADVENTR Jeep under the stars and lit up by the almost full moon.

ADVENTR Under Stars

There was a pretty nice sunrise the following morning at our campsite.

Morning At Camp

Entering Canyonlands National Park shortly after the sunrise.

Entering Canyonlands

Hiking through an unnamed wash in the backcountry of Canyonlands.

Down The Wash

View down the Trail Fork of Horse Canyon near its head. We had hoped to hike down into Horse Canyon, but the move to get into the canyon from the head was too difficult and exposed for both Jared and I, so I guess I will have to return from the bottom again.

Trail Fork

It’s such a beautiful canyon from above…

Sandstone Layers

Canyon Fingers

Since we couldn’t get down into the canyon as we had planned, we decided to follow the rim for a while instead.

Colorful Canyon Hiking

After rounding a corner we came across a nice double arch. The alcove below the bottom arch was massive!

Double Arch

Jared stands on the top arch.

On The Arch

Jared takes a photo of the colorful canyon below as we continued along the rim.


Along The Edge

On our way back to my Jeep I spotted this hoodoo above that looks like a sitting bird.

Bird Rock

These dark clouds to the north dumped a lot of rain on the Moab area, but we were far enough south that it missed us.

Dark Sky

Before returning to my Jeep I took Jared over to see Ruin Arch, which has an inaccessible tower hidden underneath it.

Ruin Arch

Here’s a different view of the two-story tower on a ledge under the arch.

Hidden Tower

North Six-Shooter in the distance.

Six-Shooter View

Here’s a very cool three-story tower we visited next.

Three Story Tower

A nicely painted potsherd found nearby.

Painted Design

There were some faded pictographs in a shallow alcove adjacent to the tower, too.

Big Fading Pictographs

This photo shows the built-up wall that protects the well-preserved tower.

Three Story Wall

Just a little granary that Jared spotted.

Long Boulder Granary

Driving towards Lockhart Basin in search of a campsite for the night.

Lockhart Basin Road

Warm evening light on sandstone formations along the Lockhart Basin Road.

Roadside Rock

Spotlight on part of Hatch Point.


A distant view of the United Nations Tablet from our campsite. I spent a nice night up above at the Canyonlands Overlook a few years back.

U.N. Tablet

The La Sal Mountains are visible over the cliffs of Hatch Point towering above Lockhart Basin viewed from our campsite shortly before sunset.

Lockhart & La Sals

A great sunset with a beautiful view of Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands Camp

Hatch Point at dusk.

Hatch Point

One last view after the sun went down. I liked the sparse clouds and colors in the sky in this scene.

Evening Expanse

Junction Butte and Grand View Point at sunrise in Canyonlands National Park the following morning.

Junction Butte

Another sunrise photo of the Island In the Sky with Airport Tower casting its shadow on the cliffs behind it.

Canyonlands Sunrise

After sunrise we packed up camp and hoped to hike down to Big Bottom along the Colorado River today. Unfortunately, this hike would not go in our favor either…

A benchmark from 1926 that we passed by.

1926 Marker

It was pretty easy to spot when we got near it. The view from here wasn’t bad either…

Benchmark View

A very tight turn on an old mining track that doesn’t seem to have been used for quite a while. I actually was able to get around the corner with a three-point turn in this direction, but had a little more trouble on the way back.

Tight Turn

Here’ my Jeep in the same spot as above, but from a different angle. It was a pretty narrow and off-camber old mining track in places. We had to stop and fill in a few holes with rocks along the way.

On The Edge

While it doesn’t seem to have been used in a very long time, there once was an old mining road here…

What Road?

A large hoodoo and other sandstone formations from our hike along the top of a high ridge above Horsethief Canyon.

Horsethief Canyon

Desert Wasteland

Hiking along the top of a ridge through the rugged country within The Bears Ears.

Rugged Country

We tried to hike down to Big Bottom from the end of the ridge, but were unable to find a route down. We tried a few different ways and kept getting cliffed out.

No Way Down

So close, but not quite there. That’s the mouth of Gooseberry Canyon on the opposite side of the river behind the large hoodoo.

So Close

It was a pretty cloudy day, but the sun did break through a few times.


A very cool hoodoo we found on our way to try to get down to Big Bottom.

Stacked Hoodoo

The thin cap on top was much wider and more impressive from the other side.

Desert Hoodoo

After returning to my Jeep from our hike we drove back to Monticello for dinner and then found a campsite at the base of the Abajo Mountains to continue our adventure!

>> The Bears Ears Photo Gallery


  1. Robert VandenBroeke
    Robert VandenBroeke October 15, 2017

    No matter where you go you always seem to take such amazing photos. I always enjoy them.
    Thank you

  2. John Spurr
    John Spurr October 16, 2017

    Another gorgeous set of photos!

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat October 16, 2017

      Thanks again John! Glad you enjoy them! I’ll keep posting them 🙂

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