BLM: Buttes, Spires and Towers, Utah
If you’re looking for a way to escape the crowds and see unique destinations that most visitors never get to experience, the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands surrounding Arches and Canyonlands National Parks offer the perfect solution. These areas are often just as good, if not better than the parks themselves, offering better access to the rock formations, unique destinations, and fewer crowds.
It’s important to note that access to any of the locations listed below does require a high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle. You will be navigating slick rocks, boulder crawling and deep sand trails traveling from one attraction to the other. For those not ready to tackle this type of terrain you might consider a jeep/photo tour guide to bring to these destinations.
Attractions in the Area
Merrimac Butte (seen in the header photo) is one of the most unique formations in the area. This stunning butte rises majestically from the desert floor, with its distinctive profile resembling the Civil War ironclad ship, the USS Merrimack. The butte is composed of Entrada Sandstone, which is around 165 million years old. It stands at a height of around 280 feet and is approximately 650 feet wide.
Monitor Butte sits only a few hundred yards from Monitor Butte. This butte offers breathtaking views of the surrounding canyons and mesas, and it’s an ideal spot for hiking, rock climbing, and photography. The butte is composed of Wingate Sandstone, which is approximately 200 million years old.
Tusher Tunnel For those looking for a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience, Tusher Tunnel is a unique destination. This tunnel was blasted through the sandstone by a local rancher back in the 1940s, and it offers an incredible perspective on the surrounding landscape. The tunnel is approximately 16 feet wide, 12 feet tall, and 142 feet long. It was dug through the Kayenta Formation, which is around 190 million years old.
Determination Towers are an ideal spot for photographers. Interesting geology surrounds the towers allowing you to compose a variety of images. The towers make amazing foreground silhouettes for nighttime landscapes and astro-photography.
Courthouse Rocks is a stunning formation located just west of Arches National Park. This towering rock formation offers incredible views of the surrounding landscape, and it’s an ideal spot for rock climbing, hiking, and photography. The rocks are composed of Wingate Sandstone, which is approximately 200 million years old. They stand at a height of around 300 feet.
Uranium Arch is a stunning natural arch located a couple miles from the other listed formations. It differs from most arches, being surrounded by rock walls. You are able to walk in and around the arch for more interesting photos. The arch is approximately 25 feet tall and spans a distance of around 40 feet. It was formed by erosion of the Navajo Sandstone, which is around 190 million years old.