What to do and see in Blanding, United States: The Best Places and Tips

October 15, 2017 Brandee Mangan

Blanding is a city in San Juan County, Utah, United States. The population was 3,375 at the 2010 census, making it the most populated city in San Juan County. It was settled in the late 19th century by Mormon settlers, predominantly from the famed Hole-In-The-Rock expedition. Economic contributors include mineral processing, mining, agriculture, local commerce, tourism, and transportation.
Restaurants in Blanding

1. The Edge of the Cedars State Park

660 W 400 N, Blanding, UT 84511-4000 +1 435-678-2238
Excellent
74%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 164 reviews

The Edge of the Cedars State Park

Informative displays on the history of the region.

Reviewed By Cindy G - Prescott, Arizona

If you want to know the history of this area, then this is a must see museum. The displays are very nice and informative. Unless you love rock art, skip the guide they give you - it's confusing. Just wander through and be sure to go to the round "tower" room. Beautiful vistas and even more to learn.

2. Utah State Route 95

between Hanksville and Blanding, Blanding, UT
Excellent
69%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 135 reviews

Utah State Route 95

Reviewed By CrankingChick - Tucson, Arizona

This road is also known as Bicentennial Highway scenic byway. Scenic Highway 12 gets all the love but the views along this route are just as stunning. We drove the byway south from Hanksville to Natural Bridges National Monument and it's a two-lane paved highway in good condition. There are some curvy areas but no really tight hairpins or steep grades. There are some short stretches near Hite (where the route crosses the Colorado River) where the road is elevated and there's a drop-off. I wouldn't describe it as a dangerous or "white-knuckle drive" unless the weather is very bad.

The scenery is simply spectacular; headed north to south, the road passes the Henry Mountains and Little Egypt Mesa then winds through narrow red-rock canyons for miles before it crosses the Colorado River where it empties into Lake Powell (part of Glen Canyon Recreation Area). Then the route climbs to Natural Bridges and Bears Ears National Monuments and passes some ancient ruins at Mule Canyon and Butler Wash before it reaches Blanding.

Make sure that you have a full tank of gas and bring plenty of water and snacks because this is remote, rugged country and there are very few services. About 33 miles south of Hanksville and 14 miles north of Hite Crossing bridge over the Colorado, there's a BLM picnic area along a creek on the west side of the road at Hog Spring that has a restroom and some short hiking trails where you can stretch your legs (the picnic area is wheelchair-accessible but the trails are not). There are places along the shoulder on the south side of the road at Hite where you can pull off for amazing panoramas of the Colorado River canyon - Watch for a driveway to Hite Overlook.

We took about half a day to make the drive from Hanksville to Mexican Hat. We stopped several times for photos and spent about two hours at Natural Bridges before taking UT261 south to experience Moki Dugway. [These attractions have separate Tripadvisor pages.] One could easily spend an entire day visiting sites on UT95 between Blanding and Hanksville and there are also some spur roads to Lake Powell at Bullfrog (UT276, 40 miles one-way) and Hall's Crossing too (UT276, 47 miles one-way). There's an option to take a ferry (fee) that crosses the lake between Bullfrog and Hall's Crossing, see Utah Department of Transportation or call 435-684-3088 for info.

3. Natural Bridges National Monument

Blanding, UT 84511-0001 +1 435-692-1234 ext. 16
Excellent
62%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 679 reviews

Natural Bridges National Monument

The natural bridges in this remote area are best visited on a nine-mile, one-way loop road.

Reviewed By CrankingChick - Tucson, Arizona

This park was the first National Monument and preserves an area of serpentine river canyons where rushing water has eroded the rock to form large stone bridges. These look similar to the red entrada sandstone arches at Arches National Park that were formed by weather erosion, but the color of the Cedar Mesa sandstone in this area of the Colorado Plateau is light tan and gray with streaks of other hues. The elevation is about 6500 feet.

Natural Bridges is a smaller, less-crowded park - a manageable size if you don't have a lot of time or are enroute elsewhere like Capitol Reef, Arches or Canyonlands National Park. It took us about 90 minutes to see everything we could access without hiking. It could even be used as a rest stop since there's a visitor center with restrooms as well as informative exhibits and a book/gift shop (park admission: $10/car or NPS pass). The rangers that work at the visitor center can provide a map and answer questions about the area. A small campground is available but no restaurant or gas.

There are three bridges that are accessed via a 9-mile, one-way, paved loop drive (please leave trailers at the visitor center). The points of interest are clearly marked and there are parking areas along the road. The bridges are not visible from the roadway, but the viewpoints are fairly close and the walkways are paved (see below). We were able to access the overlooks with a wheelchair but there are areas with steep inclines and no railing so I recommend that wheelchair users bring an able assistant.

Sipapu Bridge: 300' walkway with 30' elevation change, .6 mile strenuous trail to arch with 500' elevation change, restroom, picnic area nearby

Horsecollar Ruin Overlook: .3 mile trail, mostly level (binoculars or zoom lens helpful)

Kachina Bridge: 600' walkway to overlook with 60' elevation change, .75 mile strenuous trail to arch with 400' elevation change

Owachomo Bridge: 220' walkway to overlook with little elevation change, .2 mile moderately-difficult trail to arch with 180' elevation change

There are other hiking trails in the canyon of various lengths that can be combined for distances up to 8.6 miles. Note that leashed pets are allowed on paved areas only and are not permitted on hiking trails. There isn't much shade (particularly at the canyon rim where the scenic drive and overlooks are) so be prepared for sun exposure and bring plenty of water.

This park is in a remote area and it's true that there are few services but there are many things to see nearby. It's located along the scenic Bicentennial Highway (Utah State Route 95, turn northwest on UT275 to reach the park) about 40 miles from Blanding, and within an hour of numerous other attractions such as Monument Valley, Moki Dugway, Goosenecks State Park, Edge of Cedars State Park, Butler Wash Ruins, Mule Canyon Ruins, Bears Ears National Monument, and amazing views of the Colorado River and Lake Powell at Hite Crossing. (These points of interest have separate Tripadvisor pages.)

4. Blanding Visitor's Center

12 N Grayson Pkwy, Blanding, UT 84511-2840 +1 435-678-3662
Excellent
77%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 120 reviews

Blanding Visitor's Center

Reviewed By Mindy and Roger A - Janesville, Wisconsin

We had already checked things to do in the Blanding area prior to stopping at the visitor center. However, we were so impressed with all additional specific brochures, maps etc there were available. The volunteer staff were also very pleasant & helpful. There is also a film running with visuals of things to do in the area. The lady behind the counter even offered to photo copy a map of the "Recapture Pocket" near Bluff.

There is also a nice but small museum that captures the history of the area. Bathrooms are very clean & well maintained. Wonderful visitor center for such a small town. Maybe all of us tourists should consider volunteering at our local visitor center.

5. Goosenecks State Park

Sr 316, c/o Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum 660 W 400 N, Blanding, UT 84511 +1 435-678-2238
Excellent
57%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 499 reviews

Goosenecks State Park

Reviewed By Mickigirl1310 - Gerrards Cross, United Kingdom

There could be the most fantastic view of the goosenecks here in the park, but instead of seeing the circular formations that you see in Horseshoe Bend for example near Page, you have huge concrete blocks in the way of the view. In my opinion they should invest some money in this park and build a platform out so that people can see the circular formations. It's still worth visiting though.

6. North Wash Outfitters

88 W 100 N, Suite B, Blanding, UT 84511-3608
Excellent
99%
Good
1%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

5 based on 57 reviews

North Wash Outfitters

North Wash Outfitters takes visitors to out of the way places showing off some of the natural beauty and history available in the Four Corners area of the state of Utah. We travel to amazing slot canyons and historical ruins of many of the forefathers of the inhabitants of this area. Whether you are joining us on one of our Technical Canyoneering trips, taking a Canyoneering instructional course, or participating in hike to the ancient ruins, you will enjoy your time spent exploring the Four Corners with North Wash Outfitters.

Reviewed By HatRez - Vancouver, Canada

Leprechaun Canyon was the highlight of our 12-day trip, and it had to compete with three of the big five national parks! We were lucky enough to get a tour with just my husband and I and our awesome guide Brett.

The canyon is amazing. As soon as we got to the start of the canyon the fun started. He said, "Let's head in and we'll start our first rappel." I looked down and said, "Yeah, I can't get down there." He said, "Yes you can." And then he showed me exactly how. It was terrifying and thrilling at the same time.

About 85 times that day I told Brett, "I can't do that! I'm going to die!!" And he'd say, "No you're not. You can do it." And I did it. I felt so proud of myself by the end of our five hours in the canyon. I had accomplished so much physically and mentally that I never thought possible. He's an excellent guide who is patient, knowledgeable, and easy to chat with.

The lunch they packed was great. I told Jared ahead of time during booking that I was vegan and they made sure I was accommodated. It was so nice.

The canyon is gorgeous! There are parts of it that are so tight it's just rock on either side of you. And the way it twists and turns is amazing. We're already planning another trip to Utah so we can go on another excursion with Brett or Jared. And for the rest of our trip we were telling everyone we talked to about the canyon and North Wash Outfitters.

Things to note: The hike up was a bit strenuous for two pale Canadians who hadn't seen sun in six months and weren't used to the elevation, (I thought hitting the gym four times a week had prepped me but obviously not!) but Brett stopped a lot to let us catch our breath and take in the view. Once in the canyon, it's not so much a cardio exercise as a mental exercise. It's all down hill or flat inside the canyon so just the 45-minute hike up is uphill.

Use all the safety gear they offer, knee pads, elbow pads, gloves, etc. My husband and I both left some skin in that canyon. There are spots that are high (well, they seemed high to us newbies) and you have to just squeeze down and control your descent by placing pressure on your hips, shoulders, elbows, etc. We skinned our elbows, and knees and definitely ripped holes in our clothing. Wear something you don't mind tossing after but that's thick enough to provide some traction and a buffer between the rock and your skin.

My husband is over six feet and about 250 pounds and he was able to fit through all the tight spaces. Keep that mind if you're in there and think, "I can't fit through there!" You totally can.

We camped right at the trail head at Sandthrax the night before. It's a free BLM spot for tents or trailers. I highly recommend that so you can avoid the drive from Blanding early in the morning.

7. The Dinosaur Museum

754 S 200 W, Blanding, UT 84511-3909 +1 435-678-3454
Excellent
65%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 82 reviews

The Dinosaur Museum

Reviewed By Dmarkwind - Kansas City, Missouri

We spent about two hours enjoying this museum. It included the kinds of dinosaur models and skeletons you’d expect, but there’s also quite a bit exploring the cultural impacts of dinosaurs. There were exhibits which delved into scientific discussions on various topics, including an interesting one on the origin of birds, but my favorites were the exhibits about the many dinosaur-related movies which have been made over the years. This included one large room and part of another. There were scads of movie posters, and a few props, including the original mechanically-operated brontosaurus prop from the 1933 King Kong film. This movie is a favorite of mine, so I definitely geeked out over seeing this. There was also a recreation of a tabletop display similar to the ones used to make King Kong that showed how they used paintings on glass as well as background art to create depth when they shot the clay model dinosaur. There was another case displaying dinosaur-themed trinkets and other items. We were very glad we stopped here and felt like they could have easily doubled or tripled the $3.50 admission charge. Would definitely visit again if I got the chance.

8. Four Corners Adventures

245 E Center St, Blanding, UT 84511-2950
Excellent
93%
Good
4%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
3%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 65 reviews

Four Corners Adventures

Hidden away from the stress of the world and located in the one of the most adventure rich areas lies our company Four Corners Adventures. As a full-service adventure company we offer guided tours, rentals, information, and our retail storefront to meet any outdoor excursion needs. Shop is open 8am - 5pm, Monday - Saturday. Tours available every day including Sunday. Advance reservations are recommended.

Reviewed By Cindy M

Just returned from the 3 day Hole in the Rock tour. It was fabulous! I was a bit nervous about the razors but Jared made me feel comfortable right off the bat. His knowledge and skill were outstanding. The beautiful scenery and incredible history of the area gave me a much greater appreciation for the pioneers that came before us as well as a great respect for the land and terrain of the area. All in all an incredible trip that I will never forget! Jared and Lane made us feel right at home and exceeded every expectation. Thanks guys!!

9. Mule Canyon Ruins

San Juan County Road 263, Highway 95, 20 Miles Southwest of Blanding, Blanding, UT
Excellent
64%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
5%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 60 reviews

Mule Canyon Ruins

Reviewed By BradJill - Hong Kong, China

One of the interesting stops to make along Scenic Route 95 is the Mule Canyon Rest Stop, 10 miles past the Hwy 261 turnoff south to the Muki Dugway.

Here you find an small abandoned Anasazi settlement from the 13th century. The area is well protected, shaded and includes interesting information to help visitors understand the layout of the building foundations.

If time allows, there is a 1-mile hike to cave towers where you can view impressive dwellings. However, it time prevents you from making the hike, it is still worth making a quick stop here to see the ruins which are near the carpark. Overall, a nice add-on for those making the Route 95 Scenic Drive in southern Utah.

10. Butler Wash Archeological Ruin

Highway 95, 14 miles south of Blanding, Blanding, UT
Excellent
58%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 41 reviews

Butler Wash Archeological Ruin

Reviewed By Homeiswherewetravel - Pennsylvania

We have done both Butler Ruins that everyone goes to and also the upper ruins which is before the turn to Butler Ruins on the right if you are coming from Blanding. As soon as you cross the bridge there is a pullout on the right side to park and entrance at the fence. We took the first left at the first junction and followed that all the way to the end. There are many ruins along the way when you look up. Note the trails that take off from the main trail. Highly recommend.

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