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Bears Ears National Monument

Three Southwest Adventure Destinations

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Bluff, Utah and neighboring towns like Blanding and Mexican Hat are gateways to a lifetime of adventure. The San Juan river, Natural Bridges National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument are just a few highlights in the area. Photo by Brandon Mathis

These southwest adventure destinations might not all be synonymous with epic adventure, but they sure could be. Take a look at why we love them and why we think you will too. 

by Brandon Mathis

1) BLUFF, UTAH

You might not think of Bluff, Utah (population 258) as a major destination – and that’s what we love about it. Possibly most familiar as a put-in for any number of incredible San Juan River expeditions, Bluff is also a gateway to some of the Southwest’s most iconic locations, as well as best kept secrets. Monument Valley is 20 miles south, Goosenecks State Park is 25 miles west and Natural Bridges National Monument is 60 miles northwest. But some of your favorite excursions might be those true adventures, when you’re ready for a primitive experience. No signs, no guides and no one around; miles of dirt roads lead to remote trails in some of the most spectacular canyon country in the world. Bring a compass, plenty of water and your thirst for adventure. If you’re looking for a place to chill, head for the Comb Ridge Eat and Drink, or head south for a swinging grill steak at the Mexican Hat Lodge. Check the Bears Ears Visit With Respect Education Center in Bluff for more information about the area.

The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness outside Farmington, New Mexico, is a unique landscape filled with hoodoos, fossils, and an array of colors that make it one of the most surreal badlands in the west. Photo by Terrance Siemon

2) FARMINGTON, NEW MEXICO

The largest city in the Four Corners  (population 45,000), Farmington, New Mexico may get more love for its shopping and auto malls than it does for the outdoors, (on any given weekend some 115,000 shoppers flock to the city for goods) but take a closer look. There’s fun in those hills, like the upper portions of the San Juan River and insanely awesome mountain biking at the Road Apple Trail network. These desert landscape trails and river access make Farmington stand on its own, especially when other outdoor locales are cloaked in snow and mud. In fact all of northern New Mexico is a wonderland of natural and historic beauty. Click here for a visual journey through the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness

Prescott is known for its 50- mile Circle Trail system that wraps around town. Photo by Morgan Sjogren.

3) PRESCOTT, ARIZONA

Tucked in the Williamson Valley and up against the Bradshaw Mountains at 5,000 feet elevation, Prescott, Arizona is “Everybody’s Hometown” with a charming downtown “Whiskey Row” and endless miles of trails and climbing. The 50-mile Circle trail circumnavigates Prescott and is a rite of passage for any visiting or local mountain biker. Granite Mountain offers incredible hiking and trail running, but most notably its superb granite multi-pitch climbing. Check out the Granite Dells and Thumb Butte, which offer even more climbing and more trails. After a day playing on the rocks, grab a drink at Superstition Meadery.

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