Cedar Mesa - Bears Ears National Monument Permit System

Bears Ears National Monument, including areas like Cedar Mesa and Comb Ridge, is a special landscape that contains many cultural and natural resources. Backpackers and hikers flock to this region to visit Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites, trek through spectacular canyons, and share public lands with friends and family.

If you plan to explore this area on foot, whether day hiking or backpacking, you may need to obtain a permit or pass in order to do so.

You can also watch the Visit with Respect Video on YouTube.

Do I need a permit...

...to backpack?

...for Moon House?

...for day hiking?

Yes. A permit is required to backpack in the canyons of Cedar Mesa and their tributaries: Grand Gulch, Lime, Road, Fish, Owl, Slickhorn and Mule canyons). Backpacking permits are limited to 20 people/trailhead/day. Yes. Moon House is the only day hike that requires a permit instead of a day hiking pass. Moon House permits are limited to 20 people/day. Day hiking in the Cedar Mesa and Comb Ridge areas of Bears Ears National Monument requires a day hiking pass. Day hiking passes are unlimited.

Please call the Monticello Field Office if your trip starts in a Cedar Mesa Canyon not listed on recreation.gov.

Permit and Pass Basics

Where are permits required?

Permits and passes are required in the Shash Jaa Special Recreation Management Area (Comb Ridge and surroundings) and the canyons of Cedar Mesa, including Grand Gulch and its tributaries as well as Slickhorn Canyon, Fish and Owl Canyons, Lime Creek, Road Canyon, and the South and North Forks of Mule Canyon.

How much do permits cost?
How do I get a permit or pass?

Moon House and backpacking permits are not valid until you meet in person with a BLM Park Ranger. To get your permit validated by a park ranger, print two copies of your permit and visit the Kane Gulch Ranger Station (spring and fall only) or the Monticello Field Office (year-round). A ranger will speak with you about archeological site etiquette, provide current conditions, and go over details of your trip with you. This requirement is lifted in the summer and winter seasons.

Moon House and Cedar Mesa backpacking permits can be obtained by visiting rec.gov and reserving permits there. Starting 14 days in advance of your entry date, you will be able to self-issue and print your permits at home. Then, take your printed permits to a ranger as described above to validate your permit. 

All 20 daily permits for Moon House and backpacking trailheads are available to purchase online year-round starting 90 days in advance of your entry date. Starting three days in advance of each entry date, any remaining quota will be shifted to walk-up purchase only. To purchase a walk-up permit in the spring or fall, visit the Kane Gulch Ranger Station during its open hours of 8 a.m. to noon daily. To purchase a walk-up permit in the summer or winter, call the Monticello Field Office at 435-587-1500.

Day hiking passes

  • Daily or weekly day hiking passes can be purchased online at recreation.gov or with cash or check at your desired trailhead.
  • Annual day hiking passes can be purchased online at recreation.gov or in person at the Monticello Field Office and Kane Gulch Ranger Station.

If you find online reservation systems difficult to navigate, please see our step-by-step guide for Making Moon House & Cedar Mesa Backpacking Reservations.

Does my America the Beautiful Pass count toward my permit or pass?
  • No. You will need to purchase the appropriate permit or pass for your desired activity.
  • America the Beautiful Passes typically count for entry to public lands. For example, if you were visiting our neighbors at Canyonlands National Park, you would show your pass to a ranger upon entering the park and that would grant you entry. But if you were planning to backpack in Canyonlands, you might need to pay for an activity fee in order to do so.
  • At Bears Ears National Monument, we do not charge an entry fee where your America the Beautiful Pass would typically apply. However, we do charge activity fees called "Individual Special Recreation Permits" for day hiking and backpacking. Because your America the Beautiful Pass does not cover Individual Special Recreation Permits, it does not apply toward your backpacking permit, Moon House permit, nor day hiking pass.
Other Pages and Resources

If you have a question that has not been answered on this page, try our Cedar Mesa Frequently Asked Questions page. Visit our current conditions report in the spring and fall for current road and water conditions. The Cedar Mesa Trip Planner also contains a lot of useful information while preparing for your visit.

The Kane Gulch Ranger Station is open daily from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. during the spring and fall. Rangers staff the station to answer questions about the area, validate permits, and provide general assistance. The ranger station does not have a public phone.

Flickr Album:

Cedar Mesa