The town of Bluff is located in a unique area of the country offering access to just about any type of backcountry adventure imaginable.
Take off from Bluff to the west to discover the incomparable Cedar Mesa. Driving the exciting Mokee Dugway on Highway 261 or coming in from the north on Scenic Byway Highway 95, leads to some of the most beautiful canyons to be found anywhere!
The trailheads for these canyons are accessed by dirt roads, some of which may require four-wheel-drive. Exploring the canyons can be as short as a day hike or, for the more adventurous, provides opportunities of up to a week or more of hiking through spectacular scenery while investigating the ruins of the Anasazi culture of a thousand years ago. Some of the canyons offer arches and bridges carved by millions of years of erosion and slickrock trails for smooth walking. There are many dramatically different canyons offering opportunities for return visits to see them all.
A word of caution is in order: The archaeological sites are VERY FRAGILE. Climbing and pulling on the walls is forbidden as is taking ANYTHING from the site including artifacts and other remains. Please take the time to learn about the Anasazi and the proper protocol for visiting these sites.
Surrounding Bluff are still more canyons and mesa-tops to explore. These areas can be easy day hikes from roads just outside of town and offer more rock art panels, ruins and just great views of the amazing desert.
Drive throughout the Four Corners region and visit the sites that bring the world to Bluff. Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods, Natural Bridges, Mesa Verde, Arches, Canyonlands and Hovenweep are just a few of the National Parks, Monuments and Navajo Tribal Parks that attract visitors by their serenity, beauty and natural wonder. The photographer, budding archaeologist or sightseer will enjoy the landscape of the entire region.
One of Bluff’s most popular spots is the BLM Sand Island Camping Area. It is the put-in for the famous San Juan River trips in the region. Even if not taking off on a river trip, be sure to stop to see some of the most telling examples of many ages of rock art. From ancient times many cultures have left their mark and told their stories on the painted walls along the San Juan corridor. Then spend one day or many traveling the river know for the steepest gradient in North America!
A fast moving river without technical whitewater, it is a challenging trip with opportunities to view layers of geological formations and to visit fascinating rock art and ruins on short hikes along the way. Whether traveling all 84 miles to Clay Hills take-out for a multi-day trip or just doing the 26 miles to Mexican hat – in one day or a few – the San Juan features a trip that is enjoyable for the entire family. From senior citizens to kids with water-fight buckets, everyone enjoys trips through the scenic canyons of the San Juan.
Mountain bike enthusiasts will find a pleasant diversion from slickrock trails here in Bluff. There are many dirt roads taking off just outside of town that lead to wonderful views, interesting archaeology and just great rides.
Only 25 miles north of Bluff are the Abajo Mountains offering a cool break for the summer visitor and even backcountry skiing in the winter. The 10,000 feet of elevation showcases lakes for fishing and easy access by paved and unpaved roads for spectacular vistas and shady picnics.
Remember to contact the appropriate agency to obtain permits for camping, hikes or river trips. If possible, hire a guide to lead those trips. Bluff has experienced, knowledgeable and enthusiastic backcountry guides and river outfitters trained to help find exciting places, better understand what is being examined and explain ways to help preserve the sites for future visits and archaeological interpretation.
Come to Bluff for adventure because as the saying goes: There IS something for everyone.