The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

Visiting Cedar Mesa

If you go


From LAX, Delta, American, Southwest and United offer nonstop service to Salt Lake City, and Southwest, Delta, United, Frontier and US Airways offer connecting service (change of planes). Restricted round-trip airfares begin at $242, including taxes and fees. Bluff is also accessible from Denver International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Albuquerque International Sunport. You'll need to drive four to seven hours to reach Bluff. My drive from the Denver area was seven hours.


A Bureau of Land Management permit is required for hiking or backpacking on most of Cedar Mesa. Day-use permits are $2 per person and payable at a self-service kiosk at Kane Gulch Ranger Station. Backpack permits cost $5 per person per trip during the low season Nov. 1-Feb. 28 and June 16- Aug. 31, and $8 per person per trip the rest of the year. For more information, go to or call the BLM at (435) 587-1510 from 7-11 a.m. (Pacific).


Recapture Lodge, 220 E. Main St., Bluff; (435) 672-2281, Comfy but no frills, with a small library and regular slide shows on local history. A nature trail out back winds along the San Juan River. My single room cost $75 a night with a small breakfast included. Spotty WiFi.

Desert Rose Inn & Cabins, 701 Main St., Bluff; (888) 475-7673, More upscale is just down the road. Single room prices vary depending on the time of year. They were about $80 a night when I was in town.


I was in Bluff in November, the off-season, so choices were limited to the Twin Rocks Café (913 E. Navajo Twins Drive; [435] 672-2341, The food was fine, especially the pizza on Navajo frybread.

Cottonwood Steakhouse, 409 W. Main St., Bluff; (435) 672-2282, Open April-October; known for relaxed vibe and outstanding steaks.



Far Out Expeditions, Bluff; Cedar Mesa guide Vaughn Hadenfeldt leads backcountry tours to archaeological sites, particularly rock art. All-day tours with lunch, $195 per person, for two to four people.

"A Hiking Guide to Cedar Mesa," by Peter Francis Tassoni, provided exact directions in a place short on signs. It was invaluable.

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