Mesa Backcountry Permit Information
Backcountry permits are required in the following Cedar Mesa Canyons: Grand
Gulch, Slickhorn Canyons, Fish Canyon, Owl Canyon, North and South Forks of Mule Canyon
north of U.S. Highway 95, Road Canyon, Lime Creek, and their tributaries.
ON SEASON March 1 June 15 and September 1
Day Use Permits $2.00/per person/per day
person/ 7 consecutive day pass
Overnight Permits $8.00/per person/per trip
All advanced and walk-in overnight permits must be picked up on the day of your trip at
the Kane Gulch Ranger Station between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon, 7 days a week. Advanced
overnight permits may be reserved up to 90 days prior to your trip through the Monticello
Field Office at (435) 587-1510.
Commercial groups, groups of 8 or more people, or groups using pack or saddle
stock must obtain their permits by advance reservation through the Monticello Field
Office. Walk in permits will not be issued to these groups.
Day Use Permits
Permits may be obtained at each trailhead through a self pay system.
OFF SEASON June 16 August 31 and November 1
Day Use Permits $2.00/per person/per day
person/ 7 consecutive day pass
Overnight Permits $5.00/per person/per trip
All overnight and day use permits may be self issued at each trailhead
during the off season.
Overnight permits for commercial groups, or groups using pack or saddle stock
must be obtained in advance through the Monticello Field Office at (435) 587-1510.
Annual Day Use Passes
The annual day use pass is $20.00 and can be purchased at the Monticello Field Office or
the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. This pass is good through the calendar year and will cover
all passengers in the vehicle.
Saddle and Pack Stock Use
1. All Commercial and Private Stock Use reqires a Permit
A permit reservation system is in place requiring advanced reservation permits
for overnight use to be obtained from the BLM Monticello Field Office at least 3 weeks in
advance for private parties and by July of the previous year for commercial trips. Walk-In
overnight permits are not available. Physical permits for commercial and private trips
must be obtained from the Kane Gulch Ranger Station between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and
12:00 noon on the trip start date or one day prior. Private day use does not require an
advanced permit. All commercial and organized groups are required to submit a Special
Recreation Application. All groups of 8 or more must make reservations for overnight use.
- OVERNIGHT STOCK USE AREAS: Kane Gulch, Collins Canyon, Government Trail,
Grand Gulch from Kane Gulch to Collins Canyon, Fish Creek Canyon from Comb Wash to
confluence with Owl Canyon, Mule Canyon South of U-95, Road Canyon, Lime Creek Canyon,
Johns Canyon and Arch Canyon.
- AREAS FOR DAY USE ONLY: Bullet Canyon from Grand Gulch to Jailhouse
Ruin, Two miles upstream Fish Canyon from the confluence with Owl Canyon, McLloyd Canyon
to the impassable pour off, and Owl Canyon to Nevills Arch.
- AREAS CLOSED TO STOCK USE: Grand Gulch below Collins Canyon, all of the
Slickhorn Canyons, Mule Canyon north of U-95, Bullet Canyon above Jailhouse Ruin, Fish
Creek Canyon from 2 miles upstream from Fish Creek and Owl Creek confluence, and Owl
Canyon above Nevills Arch.
- USE LIMITATIONS. Stock use, both day and overnight, is subject to the
provisions of the Grand Gulch Plateau Cultural and Recreation Management Plan which allows
for no more than one overnight stock party at a time in any canyon on Cedar Mesa. However,
Grand Gulch is limited to only one stock trip at any time, day or overnight. In the other
canyon systems on Cedar Mesa day stock use, at this time, is not restricted. The BLM will
monitor day use, and reserves the right to implement a day use allocation and reservation
system at a future date if the impacts of day use visitation warrant.
2. GROUP SIZE for overnight and day use in the Grand Gulch Primitive Area, and
other Cedar Mesa Canyons are restricted to 12 individuals and 10 animals (pack and/or
3. FEES: All private overnight trips must be paid in advance through the
Monticello Field office. Private day use fees may be paid in advance or at the fee tubes
located at trailheads. Fees are $8.00 per person/per trip for overnight use (March 1
June 14 and Sept. 1 Oct. 31) and $5.00 per person/per trip during off
seasons or $2.00 per person/per day for day use. Commercial fees are billed at the end of
4. CAMPING is allowed only at existing campsites. No new campsites may be
developed. Camping in Grand Gulch between Kane Gulch and Bullet Canyon is limited to no
more than two consecutive nights at one campsite. The bench surrounding Split Level Ruin
in Grand Gulch is closed to camping. No unauthorized use of existing corrals.
5. FEED: All riding and pack animals must be fed certified weed-free feed for 48
hours in advance of and for the duration of the trip on public lands. Adequate amounts of
feed will be carried for all stock.
6. LOOSE HERDING of pack and saddle stock is prohibited. All stock must be under
physical control. When tethered, all stock must be at least 200 feet away from any water
source and well away from archaeological sites and their surrounding benches.
7. NO NEW TRAILS will be established for stock use. Use will be restricted to
existing trails and routes in areas open to recreational stock use.
Information line (435) 587-1532, for current road, trail,
weather and water conditions.
Disposal of human waste is not permitted within 200 feet of a water source or campsite.
Human waste should be deposited in shallow catholes (6 inches deep) and covered with soil.
Please pack out toilet paper. Burning of toilet paper has resulted in a number of
wildfires in Grand Gulch.
All water should be filtered, treated or boiled for 3-5 minutes before drinking. At
certain times of year, or in certain conditions, it can be difficult to find water. Please
check at the Kane Gulch Contact Station for the most current water conditions.
GROUP SIZE LIMITS
The group size limit for any of the canyons is 12. Pack stock is limited to 10 animals per
There are no fires allowed in Grand Gulch or in any of the other canyons on Cedar Mesa.
Stoves may be used for cooking. Fires are allowed on the mesa top or where one is in a
dispersed vehicle camping area. If you are going to have a fire, use a fire pan or an
existing fire ring. DO NOT create a new fire ring.
IN CANYON CAMPING
There are no designated camps. Please use camps that have previously been used, or camp on
slickrock to lessen your impact on the canyons. You must camp at least 100 feet from a
water source. Camping, sleeping, cooking or lighting a fire in a ruin, or the alcoves they
are in, is not permitted. Carbon and other introduced material can prevent dating and
other scientific analysis of the site.
When camping in Grand Gulch, note that the Split Level Ruin and surrounding bench area are
closed to camping. In addition, you may not camp within one mile of the San Juan River
when backpacking in Slickhorn or Grand Gulch.
If you are looking for a commercial outfitter to assist you in exploring Cedar Mesa click
here outfitters for a list of permitted outfitters. Hiring and using a non-permitted
outfitter will result in a fine to both the trip participants and the commercial
Back to Top
There are numerous cultural sites on the Grand Gulch/Cedar Mesa Plateau. The larger sites
in Grand Gulch are marked on the map, but keep your eyes open for smaller less visible
sites scattered throughout the canyons. It is unlawful to use climbing equipment to access
Here are some things to keep in mind when visiting cultural sites:
Please Stay Out of the Trash
The midden is sometimes thought of as a prehistoric trash mound. It is usually soft,
charcoal-stained soil located immediately down slope of an alcove or cliff site. Middens
contain valuable evidence of day to day activities revealing changing preferences in
pottery, food, tools and even treatment of the dead. Please avoid creating or using trails
through midden area, as trailing increases the natural erosion processes which eventually
destroy these reservoirs of scientific information.
Would you want someone violating your ancestor's bones?
If you come upon human bones, please leave them alone and notify a ranger as soon as it is
possible. Keep in mind that burial sites are the remains of ancestors of present day
Native Americans and should be treated with respect. Native people view burials as part of
a cycle. Birth, life, and then death are all a stage of the cycle, as is the process of
burial or the abandonment of a village. When a burial takes place it is not seen as a
leaving, but is a state of being that should not be disturbed by anything but the forces
Whether its paintings or peckings, rock art is always exciting to find
You may find two types of rock art on your trip. Petroglyphs are pictures carved into the
rock by pecking, incising, and scratching. Pictographs are paintings on the rock surface.
You will see a variety of figures, animals, and abstract representations. Because the
drawings do not present a written language as we know it, their meaning is left to our
imaginations. When viewing rock art it is important to keep in mind that the real
importance is not found in literal meaning, but in the feelings that result from the
viewing. We are privileged to be looking at the abstract expressions of earlier peoples.
As the oils on your fingers speed the erosion of rock art, please don't touch these
ancient traces of previous cultures. The taking of latex mold prints or rubbings from rock
art or adding modern additions is vandalism.
Bring those memories home with you, take a picture!
One way to enjoy archaeological sites and rock art in a low impact fashion is by
photography. However, please be cautious when publishing captions. Avoid naming a site or
offering its location. We know you want a good picture, but please never chalk rock art or
light fires nearby to enhance the quality of a photograph.
You can bring your dog into most of the canyons, but you should know that the opportunity
to hike with dogs in the Cedar Mesa Canyons could be lost. Due to numerous visitor
complaints and concerns regarding dogs, the BLM is considering banning dogs from all Cedar
Mesa canyons. How well you manage your dog in the canyons today will bear directly on the
future of this privilege.
Cedar Mesa Pet Stipulations
- Dogs must be leashed at all times.
- Pets are not allowed in Grand Gulch below Collins Canyon or in Slickhorn.
- Pets are not allowed in alcoves, or in cultural sites.
- Pets are not allowed to swim or play in springs, pot holes or other natural water
sources (you and I drink this water).
- Pets must not harass or harm wildlife.
- Pets must not harass visitors or other visitors' pets.
- Pets are not allowed to bark often or incessantly
- Pet waste must be buried in a shallow hole away from trails, campsites, cultural
sites and natural water sources.
- Please remember, it is only courteous to clean up after your dog if it makes a
mess in the trail or in camp.