San Juan County, Utah: Paradise of Monuments
By Meimei Wu
San Juan County, located in southeastern Utah, is known as the world's largest outdoor museum. Its unique landscape and rich cultural heritage monuments are certainly worth your visit. My first impression of the monuments and natural wonders was pure amazement! In addition to being surrounded by such beautiful nature, I learned a lot about Navajo culture here.
Attractions Blending Nature and History
Many tourists come to Utah to witness the natural spectacle of Monument Valley. The vivid, red sandstone buttes look otherworldly, but oddly familiar at the same time; that’s because this place has been a backdrop for many Western movies and even commercials. Many of the buttes are named for what they resemble, such as The Mittens, Rooster Rock and Three Sisters. The iconic monuments are located on the tribal territory of the Navajo natives. Guided tours are available, and your Navajo guide will take you to the off-the-beaten-path places where their traditional way of living is still cultivated today.
Another place to visit for an incredible cultural experience is Hovenweep National Monument. Here, I marveled at the towers that displayed the ability and resourcefulness of ancient Native American civilizations. More than 7,000 years ago, what did they use to build the towers and houses on the edge of the cliffs? And how did they build them? A guide gave me all the answers; it was fascinating.
The Four Corners Monument where four U.S. states come together in one place is another fun spot to visit. Many people who come here want to take a photo, and of course, you should! In the parking lot are license plates from just about every state, so you can imagine how popular this spot is. I placed my left hand, right hand, left foot and right foot (like a push-up position) respectively in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.
Next, visiting the Butler Wash Petroglyph was one of my most memorable and interesting experiences. I suggest renting an all-terrain vehicle because you can experience the diversity of the landscape, hills and water, while getting a rush on this fun ride. So cool! This place is a full of surprises and unforgettable outdoor adventure. Of course, you can also rent a boat to ride along the San Juan River to visit Butler Wash. The lifelike pictures represented in the panel are impressive, and it’s interesting to contemplate the meaning and purpose of the paintings to the Native Americans who created them at that time.
As long as you have the time to explore, San Juan County will have time to welcome you. I recommend traveling in the off-season, from November – March, to enjoy travel savings and fewer crowds. San Juan County, Utah is definitely worth your visit!